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It's a relief to learn that the CDU/CSU's choice for a challenger to Gerhard Schröder will be Angela Merkel, rather than Edmund Stoiber. Bavaria's Stoiber is every bit as statist in his instincts as Schröder is, perhaps even more so, and the last election failed to offer a genuine choice on economic policy; with Merkel, on the other hand, one senses that the Germans are going to be in for a rather dramatic surprise. Are we looking at Germany's Margaret Thatcher? Thatcher didn't sound very radical in 1979 either, so Merkel's current reticence doesn't count for much.
As E.T. Bell once wisely counseled, it is always advisable to consult the original sources when one is studying a subject, and it is with this in mind that I link to a translation by Matthew Watkins of Bernhard Riemann's original paper on the zeta function named after him, "Uber die Anzahl der Primzahlen unter eine gegebene Grosse" ("On the number of primes less than a given size"). It will undoubtedly come as a pleasant surprise to many readers to learn that Riemann's paper is a scant 8 pages long, both in translation and in the original German, and this despite containing two different proofs of the functional equation of the zeta function.
PS: Copies of Riemann's paper in both the original German and in English can be found here.
Economic liberals, as well as home owners with blocked drains, love them, while trade unionists hate them. Polish plumbers - once simply expected to come to your home and fix your pipes - have taken on a new role. They have come to represent everything that is controversial about the European constitution.
In France they have boosted the 'non' camp, coming to represent the dangers of enlargement and globalisation as people worry about an influx of low-paid workers sweeping in and taking their jobs.
The fears of the French are clear enough, but what has the reality of the "Polish Plumber" invasion been like in Britain, one of only two countries to open its labor market to Eastern Europeans from the very beginning of accession?
Jan Egeland, U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, says he is livid that the international donor community has brushed aside his appeal for 16.2 million dollars in emergency food assistance to Niger -- as they have other urgent U.N. appeals for Africa.
And he perceives a strong bias -- this time based on language -- is to blame in how donors decide who gets what.
Egeland told reporters this week that overt discrimination percolates down to whether a country is French, Portuguese, or English-speaking.
He said that both French and Portuguese-speaking countries ''are systematically lower on our funding tables than many of the English-speaking countries.''
''We urgently appealed for help to Niger (a French-speaking country). But we still have zero commitments,'' he added.
''It shouldn't be like that because we should give according to needs. But that is not happening now,'' he added.
I'm overjoyed to learn that the French electorate has done the right thing by rejecting the monstrosity of a constitution their political class tried so hard to cajole them into endorsing, albeit for the wrong reasons (if only it really were an "ultra-liberal" treaty!).
France's voters last night decisively rejected the new European constitution, plunging the country into political upheaval and the EU into the deepest crisis in its 50-year history.
The outcome also prompted immediate speculation in London that Britain's planned referendum on the treaty was now pointless.
With all of the votes counted last night, France's interior ministry put the no vote at 54.87%. Overall turnout was forecast to be around 70%.
Now I can sit back in the pleasant expectation that the Dutch will soon deliver the final blow to the impenetrable 448-page doorstop through which the advocates of "ever-closer union" were hoping to secure ever greater powers for themselves at the expense of the electorates of Europe's nations. The sky will not fall simply because the EU has to pause for a while with its centralizing tendencies.
PS: In related news, does the following come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the Europhile mindset?
Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister and rotating
president of the EU, said last week that, even in the event of a French
and Dutch No, EU nations should continue putting the treaty to votes
until they gave the "right answer". But in Paris such talk was angrily
rejected as an affront to democracy. Paul El Sair, a 72-year-old junk
dealer and staunch opponent of the constitution, said: "People are
saying that we must vote again if we vote No. You must be joking."
Mais non, Mr. Sair, I assure you that he definitely is not joking: just ask the Irish.
A down to earth introduction to a class of languages whose significance for the study of the wellsprings of human language is far out of proportion to the disdain in which they are commonly held. It usually takes only a single generation for a highly restricted pidgin to transform into a full-blown language with a consistent syntax, and by watching this process, linguists can gain some insight into how exactly we are wired for language.
Today, there are spoken about 200 pidgin and creole languages in the whole world. They are found in every continent, particularly in West Africa, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. As it is to be seen in the above examples, creoles differ from each other. In the past and even today, pidgins and creoles are thought to be inferior, haphazard, broken and bastardised versions of older, longer established languages. They are seen as auxiliary languages or debased jargons.
In this paper I will give you some definitions, the theories of origin and the development of pidgins and creoles, and I will give you an overview on how those languages are structured and what scope they have in different spheres.
As will be clear from reading the article, many of the resemblances we see between pidgins across the world have nothing to do with their parent languages per se, and everything to do with the circumstances in which they arise, i.e., as simplified forms of communication between people who share no common language. Indeed, a good argument can be made that English itself is a creole grown respectable with age, and that the highly simplified grammatical structure of the language by comparison to other Germanic languages can be laid directly at the door of the initial clash between first Old English and Old Norse, and then subsequent contact between the already somewhat simplified result of this earlier event and the speakers of Norman French.
The things one finds by blind luck! I'm linking to this TNR article on Cyril Darlington not out of any great interest in the man himself - though the description of his journey from the left to the extreme right does say a great deal about the intellectual dishonesty of many prominent 20th century thinkers when it came to facts which might have threatened the "progressive" cause of communism - but because of the following excerpt which caught my attention.
A web page devoted to the accent which seems to be gradually edging out the old "Received Pronunciation" as the standard within the UK, so much so that even the Queen's accent has moved some way towards it over the decades - though she's unlikely ever to adopt Estuary's glottal stops in the manner of her son Prince Edward.
Although I'm personally indifferent between the sound of traditional RP and Estuary English*, to the extent that the rise of the latter makes it more difficult for British people to pigeonhole each other by class and education, I think it a welcome development; if there's one good thing to be said for the accent situation in America, it's that outside of enclaves like Boston with its Brahmins, it actually isn't all that easy to tell very much about people's class backgrounds just by hearing a few words out of their mouths. Geographical accent differences do exist in the US, of course, but that is a rather more benign phenomenon than one being able to write others off as "Non U" based on whether or not they pronounce "house" as "hice", "off" as "orf" and "rather" as "rawther."
*Alright, I'll admit it: I don't really care to indulge in the use of EE-style glottal stops myself, though I'm not all that irritated by hearing others do so.