Archive for November 2013

Christmas Book Purchases: A Few Ideas from The Spectator

30 November 2013

This is a small idiosyncratic selection from the numerous pre-Christmas yearly recommendations by book reviewers of The Spectator, London‘s multi-faceted weekly magazine founded in 1828.

From the first of two instalments in The Spectator (16 November 2013):

Nobly immune to (but enraged by) the Kindle invasion, Roger Lewis highly recommends three physical books on books, including The Library: A World History by James W.P. Campbell as “another lavish and melancholy tome”.

Two reviewers select Charles Moore’s first volume of his Margaret Thatcher biography as outstanding.

One of journalist and writer Michela Wrong’s selections is Rory Campbell’s Comandante: The Life and Legacy of Hugo Chavez. “a bracing exploration of modern-day dictatorship which contains a merciless exposition of how a complacent middle class allowed a society and economy to be hijacked by a wily egomaniac”.

As well as two positive recommendations, Ian Thomson offers an interesting counterpoint to the standard rave reviews of Clive James’s translation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, which he judges to be “egregiously overrated”, mainly for “its fusty-sounding language”.

In the following issue of The Spectator (23 November 2013), the following three items caught my eye.

Philip Henscher is very enthusiastic about “an instant classic of autobiography”, the Bengali Tapan Raychauduri’s The World in Our Time (published in India by HarperCollins).

James Walton takes up the cudgels for Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life, which he feels has not sold as well as expected by previous reviewers.

Matthew Parris introduces readers to the potential delights of Rob Hutton’s amusing exposé of English journalese: Romps, Tots and Boffins. The Strange Language of News, which is the one I think I will buy myself for Xmas.

Translation 45. French and Spanish Pronunciation. Tips for Journalists

6 November 2013

On Saturday, 2 November 2013, a sports commentator was filling in for the weekday celebrity newsreader duo on the government-subsidised Australian multicultural TV, SBS. (A one hour daily programme.)

Although it is a multi-lingual enterprise, SBS is not unknown for its occasional language aberrations. For many years now, the sports journalist referred to above has been one of the major onsite Australian commentators on the Tour de France, one of SBS’s most watched programmes for three weeks every July. He has occasionally had problems with the surnames of well-known Spanish cyclists. He tends to be more comfortable with the French names.

At one point on Saturday, in the international news, temporary anchorman X referred to a “ka-shay“ (cachet) of arms. Hence this reminder article for similarly language-challenged journalists or TV and radio stations. Also for any readers with an interest in the topic who have not visited my other website.

Years ago, in view of the inadequacies of the Australian media in such matters, I published the following two guides on French and Spanish on my professional website ( It would appear that they may be just as valid today.

French Words in English (‘The Brush up your French Holiday Game’)

Copyright © Brian Steel 2003 & 2005.

Hint for those who need it: Check ca-shay  and cash in my simplified pronunciation guide for fellow Anglophones.

Bon appétit!

Spanish Pronunciation Guidelines for the Media and Others

Copyright © 2007 Brian Steel   !Que le aproveche!