Language Lessons and Civic Turmoil - Tire Review Magazine

Language Lessons and Civic Turmoil

Chalk this up as things you didn’t know. Well, at least I didn’t know.

In the midst of the nail-biting tensions between the two Koreas, it has been suggested that South Korea needs to distance itself from its confrontational and irrational sister to the north by changing its name.

Michael Breen, author, foreign correspondent and PR consultant, made the suggestion in a recent op ed piece in the Korea Times.

“South Korea is internationally damaged by its association with its wayward brother. One solution is for South Korea to do what it has already done in the Korean language and change its English name,” Breen wrote.

And what is the English translation of the Korean word for South Korea?


“South Korea, as we all know, is called Hankook, which is short for Daehan Minguk, while the North calls itself ‘Joseon,’” Breen wrote. “Unofficially, we refer to northerners as ‘North Han’ and they say people here are from ‘South Joseon.’”

Having an entire country change it’s name is a heck of an advertising concept.

So there you are. Bet you didn’t know that.

* * * * * *

The BBC reported on a road sign problem in Wales caused by the lack of a translator.

Road signs in Wales are, by law, bi-lingual – English and Welsh. And there is a whole department (one guy) that provides needed translation.

Needing a new sign, road service officials sent an e-mail request to the lone translator asking that he translate “No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only” into Welsh.

They received a quick e-mail response – in Welsh. Words in hand – which none of the road crew could read – the sign was produced and installed. Done and done.

Except what appeared on the sign was Welsh for: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.”

Seems the translator was away from his desk and his auto-reply message was not in English.

"Everything these days seems to be written first in English and then translated,” offered one Welshman. “Ideally, they should be written separately in both languages."

Perhaps, but maybe your translator should change his auto-reply message first.

* * * * *
The city of Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, is on the brink of filing for bankruptcy protection. Yes, bankruptcy.

And it is not alone among troubled American cities, villages and towns. For a variety of reasons – most notably sharp declines in tax revenues – a number of communities across America are on the edge of reorganization. Vallejo, Calif., in fact, has been in Chapter 9 since 2008.

Harrisburg reportedly owes $70 million in debt payments this year, and officials don’t know where the money will come from. Back in 2003, Harrisburg borrowed $125 million to upgrade its garbage incinerator, thinking it would make money for the city. Didn’t happen, and the city has been missing loan payments.

Declining tax revenues (thanks to high unemployment, state cutbacks and voters nixing tax renewal measures), increased labor costs (driven by union deals), greater demand for civic services and necessary but costly municipal projects are placing massive pressure on countless cities. Some simply cannot make it work.

So while many Americans are calling for less government and lower taxes, low tax revenues may be dooming our governments.

Ironic, eh?

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