Satirical verse: UKIP Brexit if you want to

As my Brexit-inspired satire continues, here is my mini-glossary for those reading this post outside Great Britain.

UKIP stands for the UK Independence Party, which is a Eurosceptic and right-wing populist political party in Great Britain. The party strongly opposes immigration, pledging to reduce it to zero within five years. Incidentally, the wife (alluded to below) of the party’s former leader (who is a great fan of President Trump) is German.

Brexit refers to the British exit from the European Union, narrowly voted for in the 2016 EU membership referendum. Brexit has bitterly divided the country, and even the government cannot seem to agree what sort of Brexit it wants. Needless to say, Europe is baffled …  

 

We don’t want no immigration

To pollute this brilliant nation;

We were once the purest race

Which this Mother Earth did grace

(Sorry, there is one correction:

German wives are an exception),

 

But the EU plots and schemes

To extinguish our dreams

About being alien-free

In this land of ours – see?

Our challenge is immense –

We must mount a bold defence.

 

When we seal our porous border

We’ll restore all law and order,

And, to pick our fruit and veg,

We will summon good old Reg

(He is 80 – did we mention? –

This will help him boost his pension).

 

We will stop most foreign aid

And engage in global trade

Beyond EU neighbourhood

(North Korea would be good),

Plus, in line with our agendum,

We will rule by referendum.

 

Also (you’ll be filled with glee),

We will let you park for free*

When you do your weekly shop

(We don’t reckon it’s a sop:

As an ordinary Brit,

You’ll be rather badly hit**).

 

Even if our gut gets busted,

We want to be done and dusted

By the end of next year – max;

See how neatly all this stacks?

(We can – by all indicators –

Trust our clever negotiators.)

 

To take charge of our laws,

We must rally to the cause

With a zealous incantation:

“We are here to save our nation,

And, in Donald’s dazzling vein,

We’ll make Britain great again!”

 

*For at least 30 minutes

**In your pocket

 

PS

 

Wanna know – that’s by the way –

What folk Googled the next day***?

“What’s this construct called EU?”

You are laughing? It is true;

Still, we say: “You know the score,

That’s**** what you have voted for.”

 

***After the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership

****Whatever that is; if the government still (at the beginning of 2018) can’t agree about what sort of Brexit it wants (hard, soft or anything in-between), you can jolly well make up your own wish list and announce that this is exactly what you have voted for – hey ho!

 

94: The Demise of a Publisher – and the Rise of a Phoenix

Grammar and punctuation book cover 2.jpg

It was ten months ago that I proudly announced the impending publication of my linguistic opus, Grammar and Punctuation for Key Stages 3 & 4 with Handy Usage Notes, by First and Best in Education. Well, maybe not quite an opus: I had, in fact, lopped nearly a third off an earlier incarnation of the textbook, which was targeted mainly at the British Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14). But, while the book had been shortened and, I hope, improved, its scope had been widened to include also older students. So all that was left for me to do was to sit back and wait for the royalties to start rolling in. Alas, a few months later I found myself a bewildered recipient of a notification of the demise of my book’s publishing house. How come: they had been going for years! Sadly, it appeared as if they were now going straight into administration.

But what is it they say about doors closing: when one door closes, another slams in your face? No, perhaps not that one, for I definitely wasn’t going to let this setback deflate me. After all, I am now a fully-fledged publisher myself. So my phoenix-like textbook is again in the public domain, as a shiny A4 paperback, elegantly bound, as well as an e-book, both available worldwide. And the best thing is that, with no middlemen to take their cut, I was able to slash the book’s price considerably. The book can be accessed via the links below, via the books page on my website or by Googling its title and author (i.e. me).

Paperback

http://www.lulu.com/shop/anna-nolan/grammar-and-punctuation-for-key-stages-3-4/paperback/product-22988266.html

 E-book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N1QVWHD

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N1QVWHD

 For those interested, here’s a brief description of my textbook. The book gives an introduction to the grammar and punctuation of present-day Standard English in the context of their relevance to communication. Its up-to-date grammatical and punctuation content, rooted in British national literacy strategies, is particularly relevant to Key Stages 3 and 4 (ages 11-16), but the book can be used also for, and by, older students. Its unique selling points include concise notes addressing a range of relevant usage points, a spotlight on the areas which writers tend to find troublesome and authentic examples helping to bring the content to life. While focusing on British English, the book does point out some differences with American English – particularly in the area of grammar. Its main aims are to improve students’ communication skills (particularly written), to constitute an accessible reference source and to serve as an editing handbook.

I hope the book will serve its users well.

 

 

88 – Some little light relief with spelling (From my satirical book: Who’s Put Rat into Bureaucrat?)

This is also from my political – and linguistic – satire, Who’s Put Rat into Bureaucrat?

 

Chapter 14

ET

It had been a hectic time since our ill-fated team-building event, with all the SPs busily working on their priority deliverables. Having got over my concussion, I immersed myself in FART’s policies, procedures, standards, visions, priorities, tenets, agendas, regulations, principles, doctrines, prescriptions, proscriptions, instructions, rules, precepts, commands, conventions, codes, protocols, directives, decrees, orders, schedules, exclusions, guidelines, recommendations, suggestions and advice. Oh, and process maps and process flow charts, of course. Among all this spiritual nourishment were also the writings of my more established colleagues.

Imagine the extent of my discombobulation when I discovered that I couldn’t rely on my powers of comprehension as reliably as I had – undoubtedly naively – assumed I would. My perplexity desperately needed an outlet, but there was only Crystal around, for our Cluster was having another action-packed day: Greg was attending a meeting of the Current Government Thinking Committee, Morag was attending a meeting of the Shared Vision Committee, Duncan was attending a meeting of the Common Purpose Committee, Ant was attending a meeting of the Information Technology Advisory Forum, Violet was attending a meeting of the Inter-Divisional Liaison Group and Trace was attending a meeting of the House, Lift and Stairwell Committee.

By now, I had been through my own baptism of committee fire, having attended my very first meeting of the Big CORPSE. Before the meeting, Morag had e-mailed us the agenda accompanied by the following message: “Blackberries will be needed”.

“Won’t the hotel supply them? That’s what usually happens.”

“Too expensive, Ali.”

“You mean because they are out of season?”

“Uh? Rewind.”

“Well, blackberries usually ripen in September.”

By now, Crystal, who had been giggling fairly quietly, was laughing so hard she could barely draw breath for all the gasps. “She … ha, ha, ha … she means … our … ha, ha, ha … smartphones … ha, ha, ha.”

“O-o-o-o.”

“‘Course I’m meaning our smartphones – what else did you think I was meaning?”

“But that’s not how you spell BlackBerrys.”

“‘Course it is, Ali.”

“No, no: you use ‘y’ – not ‘i’. Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“Look, Ali, I know for a fact – for a fact – that you write ‘two ladies, three baddies, four ditties’, eksetera, eksetera, eksetera – with an ‘i’. The ET have told us that you have to change ‘y’ to ‘i’.”

“Absolutely, Morag, but proper nouns are an exception.”

“No offence, Ali, but all our words are proper, aren’t they, Greg?”

“Indeed they are, indeed they are. You might have some improper ones in Polish, Ali, but, in English, everything is proper.”

“No, no, no, proper nouns are names of people, places, organisations, gadgets, things like that – it’s a grammatical term.”

“Not your grammar again – go and get a life!”

“But Morag’s rule does not apply to names, Greg. For example, if you had more than one person called Kerry or Perry, you’d write Kerrys and Perrys – with a ‘y’ – not Kerries and Perries – with an ‘i’. Where you do have to use ‘i’ is with plural forms of common nouns.”

Greg and Morag exchanged their usual look, to which I have, by now, become quite accustomed, and Greg terminated the exchange with a stern, “Basically, we don’t do common, you know what I’m saying.”

79 – Punctuation shot: The main uses of the comma

Having witnessed much uncertainty, and even helplessness, around the uses of the comma, I have decided to devote this (overdue – apologies) post to this punctuation mark. Those who have read my books will recognise the list below, but I’m sure most of you won’t have come across it, so here it is.

The comma is used:

1  To separate pre-modifying adjectives having a similar relationship with the noun being pre-modified (such commas usually translate into ‘and’):

  • He now eats regular, healthy, substantial meals.
  • They were locked up in a small, cold, damp, dark cell.

2  To separate short items in lists, although usually not before the last one (longer items are best separated with semi-colons):

  • He bought bread, butter, cheese, eggs and coffee. (A comma before ‘and’ would be the so-called Oxford, or serial, comma. Unless it prevents genuine ambiguity, the Oxford comma is usually redundant.)
  • Their march through the jungle was slow, arduous and terrifying. (Ditto)

3  To mark off extra information in non-defining (non-restrictive) relative clauses:

  • Their house, which stands by the river, has been flooded. (Don’t forget to use both correlative commas – some writers do.)
  • She looked at the trembling boy, whose head was bowed.

4  To mark off extra information in other non-defining (non-restrictive) modifying clauses:

  • The year 1979, when he was born, was difficult for the whole family.
  • Poland, where they now live, has avoided sliding into a recession.
  • She gave the little girl, looking frightened, a reassuring hug.  

5  To mark off non-defining (non-restrictive) amplification:

  • Oily fish, such as salmon and tuna, contain important fatty acids.
  • Soap operas, such as Coronation Street, are quite popular in Britain.

6  To mark off extra information in non-defining (non-restrictive) modifying phrases (apposition):

  • Warsaw, my home town, was badly bombed during the war.
  • We’ve just seen David, our new neighbour.

7  To mark off other included units – both phrases and clauses:

  • The protest, I was convinced, had now become essential.
  • All students, during many hours of testing, considerably expanded their powers of recall.

8  To mark off conjuncts = connecting adverbials (adverbials linking sentences, e.g. to begin with, secondly, likewise, furthermore, moreover, besides, in other words, consequently, therefore, however, nevertheless, until then, in those days):

  • I don’t feel like going out. Besides, I have too much reading to catch up on.
  • Extra information is always marked off by commas. In other words, we put commas around those details which are not essential to understanding the sentence.

9  To mark off sentence adverbials (both phrases and clauses):

  • Frankly, I don’t give a damn.
  • Personally speaking, the Lake District is breathtakingly beautiful.

10  To separate coordinated clauses (remove those commas and you’ll see their importance immediately):

  • Teachers valued the guidance of individual officers, and inspectors found their performance satisfactory.  
  • He sold the premises, and the office had to relocate.

11 To mark off subordinate clauses (be that finite, as in [a] and [b]; non-finite, as in [c] and [d]; or verbless, as in [e]) preceding main clauses:

  • Although they tried hard, they didn’t win.
  • If you had asked me, I would have helped you.
  • Having failed her repeatedly, he was unable to regain her trust.
  • To be a good writer, you have to know how language works.
  • When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

12  To mark off phrases in the initial position (particularly where the absence of the comma would result in ambiguity, as in [a] and [b]):

  • In all, 5,000 schools were affected.
  • The day after, it was dumped.
  • In schools throughout the country, discontent was beginning to take hold.

13  To mark off some types of subordinate causes (disjuncts) following the main clause (although many subordinate clauses in non-initial positions are not preceded by a comma):

  • His work is highly acclaimed, for it has revolutionised our thinking about the issue.
  • Her poems are becoming popular, since they have struck a real chord with readers.
  • I managed to meet the deadline, although it certainly wasn’t easy.

14  With direct speech (although some writers use a colon to introduce direct speech):

  • Everybody shouted, “Get out now!”
  • “If you give up now,” she said to them, “you’ll regret it later.”

15 When addressing living creatures (see what happens when you remove each comma):

  • These are good, folk.
  • Don’t blame them, guys.
  • They are attacking, Ant.
  • Fetch, Rex!

16 With entreaties:

  • No dogs, please. (On this comma hangs the reputation of a man’s best friend.)
  • Desist, I beseech you.

17 With interjections:

  • Wow, that’s a lot of committees.
  • Well, how about it? 

Needless to say, the comma has also other uses. Important though it is, however, it often pops up in most unexpected places, in many of which it is decidedly unwelcome. But that’s the subject for another day.

PS

I’m sorry for not having been able to standardise line spacing in this post. While some people have problems with the comma, I struggle with formatting. Oh well, we all have our cross to bear!