Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plain Political Language Part 1

In the spirit of Gowers' Plain Words and Orwell's Politics and the English Language (two works that should be read and digested by anyone who aspires to write good English), this is the first of what I hope will be a series turning recent political statements into plain English.

China says that other nations should leave Myanmar to resolve its own problems.
Translation: China will keep its mouth shut about the abuses committed by the murderous regime in Burma in exchange for being allowed to loot the country's abundant natural resources.

Donald Tsang says that this year is a time to focus on the economy.
Translation: Donald Tsang does not want to have to answer tricky political questions like when we will get the democracy promised in the Basic Law.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Men Are From Earth, Judges Are From...

Two cases reported on last night's news make me wonder if Hong Kong's judges live on the same planet as the rest of us.

In the first case, a part-time music teacher was convicted of indecent assault against two of his pupils. In passing sentence, the judge stated that the assailant was neither a paedophile nor a homosexual, noting that he had been with his girlfriend for ten years. In the real world, men who are neither paedophile nor homosexual do not usually go around groping little boys, but perhaps they have different rules where this judge comes from.

In other news: Oscar Wilde was married.

In the second case, a young man who blew off most of his fingers when a home-made bomb he was holding exploded was sent to a training centre. The judge noted that he only made the bomb "to relieve his anxiety". Well, don't we all? Though if I was forced to live in Tin Shui Wai, I might be anxious to blow the place up myself.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What's in a name?

Sitting in the airport departure area yesterday (don't get your hopes up, I wasn't the one leaving), I found myself in front of a massive information board advertising Morgan Stanley with (curiously) a picture of an Indian temple, presumably to emphasise the worldwide nature of their services. Along the top and bottom of this board were scrolling bars of financial information - currency exchange rates, stock indexes and the like - provided, so the board said, by Thomson Reuters.

I happened to notice that among the Hong Kong share prices listed was one for "Amoy Properties". Amoy Properties changed its name to Hang Lung Properties in 2002. If it takes one of the world's leading banks and possibly the world's largest financial information provider more than seven years to notice that one of Hong Kong's biggest companies (a constituent of the Hang Seng Index) has changed its name, it's no wonder we have a financial crisis.