Friday, 24 July 2015

Strassbourg Revisited

<autobiographical_preamble theme="DIY, Velux"> 
The Velux refurbishment is in hand [after a few ruffled feathers – for details of the Storm-in-a-YouTube see here].  As usually happens when I, with my retired technical writer's hat on, broach a DIY job,
...I am pained by standards of technical writing. My experience was mostly in the field of software, and mostly for System Managers rather than end users  – real-life punters, that is – but many of the issues are the same.
         More here (from one among several such rants)  
This time the villains are Velux. To quote their website, which surely qualifies for a FOGGY,
All VELUX products come with easy to read, step by step illustrated installation instructions.   
<rantette flame="medium">
The dreaded words The products [sic, not that the missing apostrophe bothers me that much] PDF instructions  are available for download, which follow  those irony-laden words, remind me of this ubiquitous road sign: 
The underlying message is 

'Take a chill pill'  I hear the cry. "What's wrong with PDF?" Here's what's wrong with it: it restricts information to readers with the right setup (as opposed to HTML, which will happily respond to any browser in the world that understands HTTP).
Well, the 'easy to read, step by step instructions' [hollow laugh] are here. (Those aren't the actual printed ones, which have the added complexity of numbered insets that might or might not refer back to the other numbersSee update, but they share this crucial feature: Velux have solved the problem of international applicability by the simple expedient of NOT HAVING ANY TEXT). I'm not sure how a document that includes no text can be EASY-TO-READ (with or without the hyphens that make the word itself slightly easier to read.)
Where was I...? Oh yes, Strassbourg. I wrote some time ago (here) about
Les Serments de Strassbourg –  or 'The Strassbourg Oaths' as we called them in my Romance Philology days.
In that post I quoted the Wikipedia article on these pledges of allegiance [in 842] between Louis the German (876), ruler of East Francia, and his half-brother Charles the Bald (877), ruler of West Francia.  
This much is true. But the next sentence in that article is not (although I ignored it because my memory of what I had learnt was faulty).
They are written in three different languages: Medieval LatinOld French and Old High German
No. They were written in only two languages  – the vernaculars of the two testifiers. To quote W D Elcock, in The Romance Languages, who cited  Professor Ewert's The French Language:
Professor Ewert's approach... merits further attention. It my be assumed, he observes, that both versions are translated from an original draft in Latin, Latin being ... the  common language of all notarial documents. He then attempts a hypothetical reconstruction, employing the phraseology of like documents....
This reconstruction makes sense, accounting for my misremembering and for Wikipedia's lapse (which I mean to correct, when I get a round tuit): the 'three languages' version makes a pleasing parallel with the  Rosetta_Stone,  (as a way of getting to grips with obscure languages).

We can be grateful that the notaries involved in the drafting did not take the Velux way out and dispense with words entirely.  

And here's a clue:

Qualifiers for the Dunmow Flitch must avoid this sort of thing. (10)

Update 2015.07.24.20:35 – Added footnote:
† Here's what I mean:

Excerpt from the soi-disant 'manual', (REWOP, so sue me)

Having lived with this for a while, and watched that much more helpful YouTube post, I think I've worked it out: "1, 2, 3", and "4" are in fact 31, 32, 33 and 34. It would have been helpful if the double-size 3 (1,2,4,5, 6, and the unnumbered last one, which one must suppose to be 7, all take up one 'page' of the 'manual') had had a frame to show this hierarchy.

Update 2015.07.25.12:15 – Added afterthoughts in green.

I've just noticed a very faint background wash, confirming my supposition.

Update 2015.09.21.11:45 – Added PPS

PPS And here‘s the answer to that clue: CROSSWORDS
(Quite neat, I thought, though I say it as shouldn't. It'd be fairer though – and easier to solve – if it were set in the context of a crossword puzzle (where the double entendre would be more apposite – that is to  say, AT ALL apposite.  )

Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

I'm thinking about doing a native iBook version in due course, but for now Mac users can use Kindle's own (free) simulator.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this

Freebies (Teaching resources:  
Well over 49,300 views  and nearly 9,000 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with nearly 2,700 views and nearly 1,100 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment