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Letters This week’s post bag yields your views on a wide range of mistakes we’ve made.

Once the plethora of helpful letters correcting typos and punctuation was eliminated, we could just about see over the virtual pile on our desks.

This isn’t unusual: We vultures find it hard to type, on account of our claws, so forgive us those errors. However, we have in fact surpassed ourselves this week, managing to be wrong even about the language we speak:

To: kieren@kmccarthy.eclipse.co.uk
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 9:14 AM
Subject: Anglo-Saxon ignorance (24/02/04)

Dear Kieren,

I wonder if you will allow me a riposte to your article in "The Register" entitled "Search engine results reveal Anglo-Saxon ignorance" (24/02/04):

Though even High Court judges have opined otherwise, the f- word, I regret to say, is not Anglo-Saxon. It in fact derives from Middle Dutch.

Nor is "c*nt": The Viking invaders of the eighth and ninth centuries brought with them their Old Norse Language. This had a word *kunta* for the female pudenda, which was in due course adopted into later English.

"Twat" has no existence in English before the eighteenth century, and is of obscure origin. Unless it derives from "throat" (as one school of thought believes), it again has no connection with Anglo-Saxon.

As to "liaise" : we all use it as a verb, but it has only become so in the twentieth century -- though we borrowed "liaison" from the French around 1650. Again, though, not an Anglo-Saxon word.

Likewise "practice"/"practise" and "affect"/"effect" are all taken from Latin.

Since not one of the words you cite is Anglo-Saxon in its origins, I wonder if it might be safer to conclude that our native Anglo-Saxon words are ones we are still perfectly well able to spell and use -- it's just these foreign imports that cause us trouble!

KARL WITTWER
for The English Companions

Being wrong is not the worst of crimes. Stating the obvious, according to one reader, is far more serious:

"Employing pop-up ads to target punters is like playing Russian roulette with your brand, according to Web behaviour consultancy Bunnyfoot Universality."

Bugger. 4 years hard work trying to decide if I was deluded over my hatred of popups and whether everyone I knew was deluded, smashed in an instant by an intensely professional report by a respected scientific institute. I can rest easy knowing that the people at 'Bunnyfoot' have backed up advice I've been giving for the past three years.

I look forward to upcoming missives from this consultancy such as 'Water: wet?' and 'Ice: not the best way of heating a pool'.

James
Security Director
BloodyObvious Consultants.

We can’t help but agree. And Bunnyfoot is a bloody silly name, anyway.

So where else did we get on your nerves? Numbers, that’s where. Seems a little decimal interpretation was called for in a story we ran about time flying:

1Es = 30 billion years!

Are all your stories 1% accurate? How can I trust you ever again? :-(

Sorry, Jim. Like we said, our claws make typing hard. Calculators are just as challenging. But we reckon one teeny-weeny mistake in an article of several hundred words is more than one percent accurate...

Anyway – let's round off this load of old bo**ocks (Anglo-Saxon or Dutch?) on a happier note, what with it being Friday and all that:

On the subject of the shortest measurable time (so far) I have a bit of interesting news for you. We here in Elive have found the longest measurable period of time, the innasecond.

We managed to measure this phenomenon when asking another (nameless) Irish I.S.P. To make DNS changes and were told it would be done 'innasecond'.....

This was quite a considerable time ago and we still await an end so we can publish our findings :)

Cheers,
Dave

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