December 15, 2010

Another Rant about American Pronunciation

I don’t care about accents as such, I have one, you have one, we all have one, and none are ‘correct’.

A typical American uses, in pronunciation at least, the diphthong ‘ae’ (pronounced something like ‘eh’) whereas a typical Brit would use ‘a’ (pronounced something like ‘ah’) when saying, for example, ‘hand’. That’s not a problem, all are understood.

But it becomes a problem when the USA thinks it can teach the rest of the world how to spell English in other alphabets, using its pronunciation. The letter ‘a’ is generally pronounced ‘ah’ in every major language in the world, including English, everywhere except North America – it is never ‘eh’ (ae). More annoyingly, when they use it correctly, as in ‘aesthetic’, they change the spelling to ‘esthetic’!

The Koreans have a letter that is pronounced ‘ae’ (eh) it’s ㅐ in Hangeul (there’s a picture above if you can’t see this (you need Korean language on your computer). So now we have Americans telling Koreans how to spell place names, in Korean, using American phonetics. For example Amsterdam phonetically ‘spelled’ in Korean is akin to “Ehm-ster-dehm”! New Zealand, spelled in Korean, is 뉴질랜드 (Nyu-jeel-LEHND-uh). So we’ve got Americans telling the rest of the world how to pronounce and spell the names of cities and countries that are, in some cases, ten times older that their own country. They really have no right to do this. It begs the cliched question. Who do they think they are?

And while we’re on the subject of place names, Moscow does not rhyme with ‘cow’, Iraq and Iran are not Eye-raq, and Eye-ran, Nottingham is not pronounced Nodding Ham, and Yorkshire is not pronounced York Shire. Accents are one thing, they are forgiven, but don’t tell us how to say the names of the places we come from! We don’t pronounce the ‘s’ on the end of Arkansas, despite there being a Kansas with an audible final ‘s’, so return the favour and say our, and the rest of the world’s, place names correctly. And unless it’s North American like Canada (캐나다) Keh-na-da don’t have the downright arrogance to instruct other countries to use your phonetics.

December 10, 2010

The Problem with Scottish Football

There are many problems with Scottish football. The standard of play, and facilities in some cases, up in Scotland is as low as it’s ever been. Even though I’m English, I can also tell you that the national team has struggled for years, not having qualified for a major tournament since 1998. Attendances are down across most leagues. The Champions of Scotland have been Celtic or Rangers for each on the last 25 years, since Aberdeen won it under Alex Ferguson way back in 1985. To put this into perspective, it’s quite possible that you’ve become a parent, and a grandparent, since anyone outside the Old Firm has won the title.

The referees have been on strike, some clubs are on the verge of financial extinction (again in some cases), the TV money has all but dried up, and Scotland, I think it’s fair to say, hasn’t really produced a truly world class player for as long as anyone can remember. Even the most die hard Scot would not, I think, argue with any of the above.

So who is to blame for this state of affairs? In my opinion, the state of everything bad about Scottish football, if not all of Scotland, can be attributed to one loathsome set of people, the fans of The Old Firm. Not the clubs themselves, the FANS.

Let’s take the referee’s strike to begin with. One of the main reasons they went on strike was persistent abuse received, not from clubs’ managers, or in the press, or even inside stadiums, but after the game, over the phone and in person, to their houses, often threatening their families too. Who do you surmise was doing this? If you guessed fans of the Old Firm, you would be correct. If a decision goes against their team you can guarantee that the presiding official will receive phone calls, and even visits, to his home. Windows have been broken, families threatened, death threats issued. No official should have to go through this, and no other clubs’ fans are known to do this in Scotland, only Rangers’ and Celtic’s fans.

Sectarianism is also rife in Scottish football. Except there are only two clubs who participate, you’ve guessed it, the Old Firm. Well, specifically, their fans – both clubs have publicly (at least) distanced themselves from such Neanderthal prejudices, but any attendee of any game involving either half (or both) of the gruesome twosome will have witnessed a spectacle of idiocy known rarely elsewhere in the game. Where else inside a football stadium do fans sing of battles from 400 years ago, famines, pseudo-religion, and celebrate and glorify terrorist atrocities often committed on their own soil against their ‘own’ people for the sake of cheap points scoring?

Let’s move on to money, itself a problem within the game, and not just in Scotland. Most of the money up there goes to the Old Firm. True, they have the largest fan bases, but those fan bases themselves are built upon sectarian foundations. Why are Partick Thistle, Motherwell, Hamilton Academical, St Mirren, Clyde et al not as well supported? They have the same or similar catchment areas. Some might say that that the Old Firm’s early successes paved the way for a huge and loyal fanbase, but Queens Park FC, who play at the national stadium smack in the middle of Ibrox and Parkhead (The Old Firm’s grounds) won the Scottish Cup ten times in the 19th century alone. Why did Third Lanark, another famous Scottish club go bust in 1967? Because they didn’t have the revenue of Glasgow’s two ‘giants’ perhaps? Although, in Third’s case, mismanagement was a huge factor in their downfall. The Old Firm also feature in more TV games then the other ten clubs in their division combined, adding to their already bloated revenues, and ensuring their dominance and cancerous grip on Scottish football carries on unabated.

Fans' Behaviour

Their fans’ behaviour was perfectly summed up by Rangers’ recent visit to Manchester for the 2008 UEFA Cup Final, where hours of rioting and destruction ensued. A lesser known fact is that when Rangers previously reached a European final in 1972, there was an equally bad (if not worse) case of rioting, when thousands of drunken hordes invaded the pitch, with a minute or two of the game still remaining. From Wikipedia “Rangers were allowed to keep the trophy, but were banned from European competition for two years (reduced to one on appeal). This marked the first time in the history of the competition that the winners were banned from playing in Europe the following year.”

And I’m not singling out Rangers fans , vile "gutter-rats' (to quote their ex-manager Willie Waddell) though they are. Celtic’s fans are equal in their contemptible, violent, moronic and sectarian behavior. Did anyone see this photo a few weeks ago of a misspelled banner? I can tell you first hand having been to Celtic Park, and games featuring Celtic away from there, that their fans’ behaviour is also a complete disgrace. I’ve seen bottle throwing incidents, been pelted with rocks, had bus windows broken, and various other violent drunken incidents seen and witnessed. The same with Rangers too. Some would argue that this happens at every football much, Trust me, the Old Firm’s fans are much worse, much more often. Also, why do so many of them treat everywhere they go as a public toilet?

In short, pretty much all of the problems stem from one thing, two Neanderthal sectarian dinosaurs masquerading as football clubs, who have fans masquerading as human beings. They truly are Scotland’s shame.