Royal baby: The American mistake


Not a St George’s Cross in sight

Some US television networks proclaimed the royal baby news by welcoming the arrival of the “future king of England”, forgetting about the rest of the UK.

Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish… you may want to look away now. Some of the biggest names in American broadcasting have overlooked your existence amid the hysteria surrounding the newborn Windsor. Star presenters on CBS News and ABC News were among the culprits who referred to the baby as “the future king of England”. American talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted: “It’s a boy! So happy for my cousin Kate and the future King of England”.

But there hasn’t been a King of England since William III in the early 18th Century – and there won’t be again, unless (or until) the United Kingdom splinters completely.

“The political state of the Queen’s home nation is the ‘United Kingdom’, not England which is just one region within the country along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,” says Robert Blackburn, a professor of constitutional law at King’s College London. “The ‘United Kingdom’ is shorthand for the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’.”

It’s a common misunderstanding in the US. The New York Times angered many Scots when it marked Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph with a tweet that said: “After 77 years, Murray and England rule”

But before Brits get too sniffy about this equation between Britain and England, we should acknowledge it’s a pretty complicated business and the English are sometimes guilty of the same mistake. A common error is for the British themselves to forget about Northern Ireland by referring to “Great Britain”, which is an island, when really they mean the United Kingdom. (The Northern Irish are “British” without being part of Great Britain.)

And remember that the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are British, but not part of the UK.

Head hurting yet?

America is a desire, says the OED

This is a two-way street, and getting to grips with the correct terminology stateside is also a tricky business. The United States of America is often referred to as “America” by British people, but consult the Oxford English Dictionary and you’ll see that America is a desire, a place you yearn for. Of course, Simon and Garfunkel fans knew that already.

The distinction between America and the US is important, because there is another America, Latin America. Not to mention Central America, and the rest of North America (including Mexico and Canada).

So can we legitimately use “American” as an adjective referring to something from the US? If so, you’re back in the Britain/British quagmire again. Perhaps the answer is for everyone to be tolerant, to embrace a bit of “constructive ambiguity”… and just toast the health of the future king.


Value for Money


A cup of coffee – for what it’s worth

Customers need only pay what they think their food and drink was worth

How much does a cup of coffee cost in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter?

If you thought £1, £2 or even £3, you would be wrong.

Because in one cafe, a cup of coffee costs exactly whatever you think it’s worth.

The Dock Cafe opened last week and instead of a till, it has an honesty box.

The cafe, run by the Docks Church, asks customers to enjoy their tea, coffee and whatever buns and biscuits they want and then leave a contribution on their way out.

If that’s unheard of, the interesting thing is that so far, the cafe management believes it has made more money that if it were charging £1.95 for a cup of coffee.

The cafe is near where the SS Nomadic sits in the Titanic Quarter and has been granted a “meanwhile lease” for commercial premises.

That means it can operate without paying commercial rent and just covering the running of the cafe.

Rev Chris Bennett, the chaplain for the Titanic Quarter, said the scheme has been a huge success so far.

Source: BBC News Read more

What’s a Stromatolite?


Stromatolite colony found in Giant’s Causeway

The discovery was made at the Giant's Causeway

In a small grey puddle tucked into a corner of the world famous Giant’s Causeway, scientists have made an extraordinary find.

A colony of stromatolites – tiny structures made by a primitive blue-green algae.

Stromatolites are the oldest known fossils in the world.

The tiny algae or bacteria that build them are also thought to be the most ancient life form that is still around today, after more than three billion years.

What makes the discovery in Northern Ireland so remarkable is that until now these structures have been found mainly in warm and often hyper saline waters which discourage predators.

The stromatolites in the Giant’s Causeway are in a tiny brackish pool, exposed to the violence of waves and easy prey to the animals that are already living amongst them.

Stromatolites' appearance on this planet is seen as a turning point in the earth's evolution

Stromatolites are formed by a blue-green algae that excretes carbonate to form a dome-like structure. Over thousands of years these build up into a hard rock that continues to grow.

Stromatolite fossils have been dated as far back as three and a half billion years.

The colony at the Giant’s Causeway on Northern Ireland’s wind-swept north coast was found by accident.

Source: BBC News Read more

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