Tesco Language

Tesco is to change the wording of signs on its fast-track checkouts to avoid any linguistic dispute.

The supermarket giant is to replace its current "10 items or less" notices with signs saying "Up to 10 items".

Tesco's move follows uncertainty over whether the current notices should use "fewer" instead of "less".


Whilst '10 items or fewer' is more linguistically correct than '10 items or less', 'up to 10 items' does not just 'clarify' the meaning (who was unclear?) it actually changes the meaning.

'10 items or fewer/less' implies the number of items can be 10. 'Up to 10 items' implies that anything from 1 to 9 is okay, but 10 is too many.

With the change, it's possible that jobsworths on the till might have a resurgence. I hope not! I haven't had one of those in some time.

All this is just fussing round the edges - appealing to the grammar pedants. I'd much prefer it if Tesco could sort out its pricing policy, that'd be a useful change.

Cert French (Open)

My first Open University certificate came through today. I'm now entitled to use the letters Cert French (Open) after my name. I won't be doing this, I don't even use my degree letters as a rule (BSc. Hons, I believe, though there may be some detail difference).

To start using Cert French (Open) would be equivalent to writing my GCSE/O Level/A Level qualifications!

Still, it's nice to have the bit of paper. The next one, assuming that I finish the course, will be Cert Hum (Open).

No, I won't be using it, it may get silly.

Article by Murk, BSc (Hons); Cert French (Open); PGCE; A levels in Maths, Further Maths, Computer Science, Physics; City of Guilds Amateur Radio Examination; RoSPA minibus training, GCSEs in English (Lang and Lit), Maths, Technical Drawing, Electronics, French, Geography, Chemistry and Physics; Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award, 6th Kyu Ni Judo (from 1981!), yellow belt judo (similar vintage), cycling proficiency, 50m swimming; Milk Monitor.

Non à 2008!

According to the BBC News website, protestors in Nantes spent december 31st protesting against 2007. "Now is better". They "called on governments and the UN to stop time's "mad race" and declare a moratorium on the future"

The tension mounted as the minutes ticked away towards midnight - but the arrival of 2007 did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm.

The protesters began to chant: "No to 2008!"

They vowed to stage a similar protest on 31 December 2007 on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris.

Further details (in English) and in French (1) (2)

LZX120 Result

I have the result for my French Open University course. My Result for LZX120

It's okay, but it could have been better. I got good marks for completion of task, but was let down on accuracy and range of language... which to me is the main point.

On the ECA, the completion got B in the written and A for spoken. The accuracy and range got C in each. The overall average was in the 70-84% range (77%) which is a B. The average for both the ECA and the coursework was a little lower (somewhere from 70-77% depending on the weighting). This is a B grade, which I suppose on any objective scale isn't bad, especially as my brain fundamentally doesn't work easily in these areas.

Having said that, I'm quite ambivalent about the result. It's not great, but it's acceptable. I'd have been disappointed with sub 70%., but can't be happy unless I'm in the top grades. It's average - and I'm not happy with that (though, as I say, I'm not unhappy). To learn a language properly, immersion over an extended period is really the best option, unfortunately it's one that was unavailable to me.

LZX120 result soon

It's seemed like forever, but the result of my French course should be here next week. Each day I check the post and the result doesn't appear... Course result soon.....

I've been working pretty solidly since I got home from work, as there is a deadline for AZX103 tomorrow, and due to various commitments I'd not got the essay completed before now.

The essay is about the Colosseum, and the reactions that the ancient writers had to the games. It's been a big job, not many words, granted, but as it's a foreign discipline for me it's been quite tricky! I've got the work on a USB device, so hopefully I should be able to check it again before sending it in (I can do that electronically). I don't trust myself to send it in today as I'm now really tired and I need to read it with a clear head. I just hope it doesn't slip my mind tomorrow with everything that is to be happening!

The next block of work (to be done by new year) is on the French revolution (Vive la Revolution!), this is followed by two topics of greater interest to me, 'Art History and Philosophy' for the end of january and 'Religious Studies OR History of Science' for the start of march.

My French Course is Done

My French course is done. My ECA was stumbled through, I think it was okay, but it's hard to be objective. If I pass the course, I shall be able to put 'Cert. French' after my name. I don't think I'll add that to any letterheads, I don't even use the BSc(hons)!

It's time to look ahead. I did want to do European Studies, but that requires a level 2 language, and I don't want to do another language course with the Open University.

A related set of courses is International Studies. Both of these are outside of my 'comfort zone', but that was the original point - increasing breadth of knowledge.

To my eyes, some of the course descriptors seem rather woolly and ill-defined, topics like 'Are notions of "Britishness" and national identity, gender, class, race and ethnicity as relevant today as ever?' which could be argued back and forth in any variety of ways. My training is as a Physicist, and that involves being able to see the core of an issue - as a result the humanities can sometimes seem rather vague.

I'm tempted to go off on a tangent and look at doing courses toward a degree in Computing or Mathematics. This would be much closer to my comfort zone, and would be directly relevant for work too... whilst I know that such topics would suit me well, and I'm sure I'd get a lot out of them, my original intention was to stick up two fingers at CP Snow's arts/science divide.

Snow is most noted for his lectures and books regarding his concept of "The Two Cultures", as developed in The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959). Here he notes that the breakdown of communication between the sciences and the humanities is a major hindrance to solving the world's problems.


(In my experience, sciencey types usually have a passing familiarity with the humanities, even if they haven't studied them in depth, the same is not usually true in reverse)

The choices widen, perhaps I should do a general humanities course, or History

What to do?

It comes to this. Do I go out of my comfort zone or not? I.e. do I go for breadth (and possibly get a lower class of degree than I'd like as the humanities are not how my brain works), or do I go for depth in areas where I already have a higher than average competence?

If I go out of my comfort zone, all I need to decide is which way to start, as a lot of the programmes have similar requirements in the early stages. I could go for a general introduction to the Humanities or an introduction to the social sciences.

Within my comfort zone I'd start with either Using Mathematics (which looks quite straightforward to me, I've looked at some of the sample materials and it won't be any problem (i.e. no study required! - perhaps I should look at credit transfer?) or with Data, Computing and Information, which looks like it should broadly fall into the 'obvious' category with some newish things in there for interest.

It's tempting to go for the humanities, as 'BA' combined with the existing 'BSc' would be rather nice - I might start adding the letters at that point!

I honestly don't know what to do. I do know that for the next presentations I will need to make a decision in the next 24 hours.

Regional Cows

Like birds, it has been found that cows have regional accents. On the BBC news site they have recordings. Whilst I'm quite happy to go with mooing variations, I'm not terribly convinced that the cow accent should be in any way reminiscent of the human accent, as the Five Live snippet seems to suggest.

This is also discussed on language log.

(This is a case of something which has been 'spun' from 'it is possible' to 'it is true')


Massively late, (cut-off date tomorrow), I sit down to do my final TMA for L120 (French Open University course). I'm so far behind it's unbelievable. I want to take a deferment, but if I understand it, this means paying for virtually the whole course again - I may as well see if I can get through and then resit if needed. I really don't like this one little bit. If I do get through I'll have the points, but won't feel like I've learned much - which rather defeats the object of the exercise. If I don't get through, then I'll feel I'll have wasted the time. It's a lose-lose proposition.

Still, I'll get the TMA in (even if I have to hand-deliver it), and then will have to think about the following ECA.

TMA 3 results for L120

I've got my TMA 3 result back, and an quite amazed to see that it's 78%. Why amazed? Well, I'm a LONG way behind on the course, a long way. I'll be relying upon a block of time I have coming to get up to date, but it'll be tough. The TMA was the result of lots of bookwork.

The previous pieces scored 90 and 78 with a weighting of 15% each, this one is weighted as 35%. This means that I have 52.5% for my coursework so far (with 35% to play for)

The Coursework is worth 50% overall, with 50% coming from the End of Course Assessment in September.

I'm still undecided about whether to press ahead with L211, or to change direction - a non language course would be easier for me to schedule. I need L211 at some point if I'm to gain the BA I have my eye on.

TMA3 for L120

I've just completed my third TMA for L120, a bit tricky as I'm massively behind where I need to be. Still, it's there now - I have a block of time coming soon and should be able to catch up with the course itself. For a language course more than any other, a 'stop start' work pattern isn't great, so I'm considering the options for next year.

Option 1 - Do L211, this is required for the BA in European Studies.

Advantage, it gets the French out of the way, I can then go onto other things without this course hanging over me.

Disadvantage, I really want a change of scene, to do one of the other courses (e.g. The Rise of Scientific Europe 1500-1800 (AS208)). Also, it means that I've a tougher hill to climb when restarting the French. having the French there puts off the day I can change the focus.

Option 2 - Do L211 Later

Advantages: Renews my interest, Disadvantages: L211 will remain there, and it'll be a bit tougher to get back into it.

Option 3 - Never do L211

This means I can't get the BA in European Studies - but I could divert to International Studies.

I don't think option 3 is the one for me, so that really means, L211 - 2007 or later? I like learning a new language, my trouble is simply one of fitting it in, and it is frustrating as it has to take a lower priority than other things. With most other courses the way I'm having to study would 'fit' with the material much better than a language course.

Je parle le français comme une vache espagnole!

J'ai fini mes devoirs pour l'open université. Il faut nécessaire écrire environs 200 mots en français sur mes vacances, et j'ai préparé une présentation orale avec une cassette. La présentation était sur le sujet de la 14 juillet. C'était difficile pour moi, mais la difficulté est la raison pour essayer!

I've finished my homework for the open university. It was necessary to write about 200 words in french about a holiday, and I have prepared an oral presentation with a cassette. The presentation was on the subject of the 14th July (Bastille day). it was difficult for me, but the difficulty is the reason for trying!

Eve Teasing

When Monica and I were in India (I really must complete my posts for that trip) we kept reading in various newspapers, such as 'The Times of India' about 'Eve Teasing'. We could understand from context what the word meant, but it perplexed us.

A little research provided us with an answer.

Essentially it refers to harrassment of women. Literally 'Teasing Eve'.

In a related story whilst we were there, there was a story which caught our eye where police raided a park in Meerut and started to beat couples (or usually the women) for public displays of 'obscenity', some were married couples - and some brother and sister who were out for a walk. I seem to remember the word 'eve teasing', used here - so the word may have other connotations. The event did provoke some scandal and the police officers involved were suspended.

LZX120 tutorials

I've had time to look at my first tutorial dates for LZX120. It's a great start - two of the first three clash with work events in the evening. The work events take priority, and it shouldn't be a problem as far as the tutorials are concerned (i.e. they are not compulsory). It just means that I don't have the crisp start I would like forLZX120.

Course Results

My course results for L192 and the excellent LXR122 should be out tomorrow. The courses are like driving tests, a straight pass/fail (with the possibility of a distinction). There is a possibility of a distinction for me in L192 given that 85% is needed and that my coursework average is 92.3%. The first end of course assessment should be okay (it's essentially the sames as the TMA, teacher marked assessments). ECA2, the oral, might have let me down a bit... but I do have some safety margin.

L192 Final Marks

The requirements are at least 40% in each of the elements, ECA1, 2 and the coursework, so there is still the possibility of catastrophe. Touch wood, I don't think that'll happen for me as the tutor seemed happy after

LXR122 I'm less worried about as a course as it does not lead to anything, per se. L192 on the other hand leads to LZX120. However I would be disappointed not to do well. The assessment here consisted of an oral and an essay, both in French. The essay was only 300 words, but that was enough. In the oral I had to give a presentation on a topic of my choice for a few minutes, and then I was asked questions about it. Both had to be based on France.

In the oral I discussed how Grandad was captured on his way to Dunkirk and then marched across France to a POW camp in southern Germany. In the essay I wrote about the Eiffel Tower.