Thursday, April 28, 2016

Donald Trump didn't actually pronounce the word Tanzania incorrectly, when he called it 'Tan-Zane-Nee-Yah'.

Journalists love to butcher the language. Just a few years ago, the word 'terror' referred to an emotion, rather than to terrorism, a slightly longer word. Lately, media has set itself up as a watchdog on language usage, nonetheless. A favourite target is controversial and poorly spoken American politician, Donald J. Trump.

Most dictionaries give a uniform IPA rendering of the name of the African country known as Tanzania: /tanzəˈnɪə/. That is to say, following the American tradition of spelling out syllables: Tan-Zah-Nee-Ah (the 'ee' in the 'nee' technically being the 'i' sound in the word 'bit'). The blundering politician, The Donald Trump, called it /tanˈzeɪnɪə/ (Tan-Zane-Nee-Yah) in a recent speech, prompting media condemnation, and headlines about a 'zany' pronunciation. It also prompted me to feel slight surprise. In Africa, where I live, Tanzania is often pronounced /tanˈzeɪnɪə/, following the same manner as Trump pronounced it. I have always considered it one of several correct pronunciations for the word.

A quick Google search, followed by clicking through to travel and pronunciation forums and articles, reveals that /tanˈzeɪnɪə/ is a common pronunciation the world over, and is used in Tanzania itself, along with many other renderings of what is essentially a manufactured word. Whether you say /tanzəˈnɪə/ or /tanˈzeɪnɪə/, the meaning is translated, but more than that, a good portion of speakers recognise both as correct pronunciations, amidst others.

'The name "Tanzania" was created as a clipped compound of the names of the two states that unified to create the country: Tanganyika and Zanzibar' (to quote Wikipedia) i.e. it is a created word, rather than one which naturally developed. Both common pronunciations give the 'za' sound one which is not in the first part of the word Zanzibar (i.e. zæ). If we were to combine the two words with their sounds intact, we would speak of: /tanˈzænɪə/ instead.

Oxford Dictionary of English also references its origins: 'Tanzania consists of a mainland area (the former Tanganyika) and the island of Zanzibar. A German colony (German East Africa) from the late 19th century, Tanganyika became a British mandate after the First World War and a trust territory, administered by Britain, after the Second, before becoming independent within the Commonwealth in 1961. It was named Tanzania after its union with Zanzibar in 1964'

So, for a made up word, Tanzania sure creates some controversy. It probably is best to pronounce it as /tanzəˈnɪə/, which is how many dictionaries render the word, but on the ground level of real, spoken speech, /tanˈzeɪnɪə/ or /tanˈzænɪə/ are equally correct. You would have to be a pedant to declare otherwise.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A satirical piece: Why did the ANC charge Malema with high treason? Interview with the Minister of Labour.

The following piece is satire.

Not to trumpet my success, but I got an interview with Minister of Labour, Oliphant. Nelisiwe Mildred Oliphant is usually pictured as a queen size woman of African descent, with hair hanging to the bottom of her neck, and sun spots sprinkling her visage. The Oliphant I met, however was alabaster white, was a member of the species, Loxodonta africana, and had a rather large and delightful nose, which she moved about, eloquently, as we spoke. She was also a minister in the church of nature, and was undergoing labour at the time.

Q: The ANC recently laid charges of high treason at the Hillbrow Police Station against Julius Malema and the EFF. Why did your party do so?

A: He, Malema, said on Al Jazeera, my favourite TV network, by the way - that if the government violently quashed dissent, that the EFF would remove it by the barrel of a gun. Some people have said that that is speaking of a theoretical scenario, and therefore could not be taken as a serious threat of violence, after all, the government is not a dictatorship: we can't even dictate who our ministers will be, we actually get dictated to by figures such as the Gupta brothers in that respect, so we aren't a dictatorship. Would a dictatorship assign three ministers - myself included - to hound banks and demand they tell us and the Guptas why they broke up with them? No, a dictatorship would not care whether banks are doing business with foreign nationals. In any case, we are using violence to quell protests. We even use security forces to remove members of parliament from the building, so what Malema is talking about is not theoretical, and his suggestions that we have deployed the army to stop people stepping out of line are also true, so he should be charged with treason. I think Nelson Mandela would approve. In any case, we have wanted to brand him a traitor since he betrayed us by forming the EFF. What happened to his non-treasonous claim that he would kill for Zuma, whom Thabo Mbeki tried to remove... he betrayed us... Malema betrayed the struggle to keep Nkandla under wraps as well.

Q: You recently lamented that not enough board and executive positions are occupied by previously disadvantaged people, and said companies had six months to fix that before they faced you in court. Would you be upset if EFF supporters were appointed to these positions, and are only capitalists allowed?

A: We have charged the EFF and their leader with high treason. Appointing traitors or those who associate or sympathise with traitors to boards would not satisfy the ANC. A traitor isn't really a South African, and BEE is designed to benefit South Africans... and associates of the President from India, but currently in Saudi Arabia. So, it is best that companies appoint capitalists to bord positions. People like Cyril Ramaphosa... one man can occupy many board positions, and there are many ANC supporters out there who are prepared to do their civic duty and become executives of major companies, which might in turn gratefully pay the ANC money to use for elections, and for lavish parties.

Q: Some have accused the government of using BEE/EE as a front to empower the elite few who are already empowered.

A: Of course we are. We call it empowerment of the previously disadvantaged for a reason. It implies that the beneficiaries should not be those currently disadvantaged, like all of those people in the rural areas or informal townships. We were very clear that it is about being previously disadvantaged, not currently disadvantaged. Being currently disadvantaged should exclude you. We are not the EFF. We understand that the pie is only so big.

Q: What about the accusations that it has mostly been ANC connected figures who have benefitted.

A: Of course it has been. ANC figures are highly educated people. They grew up in the lap of luxury in places like the USSR and Great Britain... while crying daily over not being in South Africa, of course. How can you expect someone without an economics background to run a company. Our focus on executive positions, I think, highlights this as well. We don't mind what levels of EE exist at lower levels, because ANC leadership cannot occupy those positions - that's more of an EFF concern anyway. Are we worried if the Guptas are alleged to discriminate against black South Africans when hiring? No, of course not. Perhaps the EFF would care about those, if people elected them. And the DA, maybe they would do away with EE altogether, people shouldn't vote for them. We often tell people who have seen their lives worsen in recent years just that - if they happen to become currently advantaged and EE no longer exists, how will they benefit from it?


Q: You recently said that you were disappointed with EE in top industry positions. You said that while white people are losing their jobs, they are also being hired by other South African firms. You said that this meant positions stayed white, and that ideally the white executives would be excluded from the South African labour market, rather than being reemployed.

A: Yes, I did say that. We did something similar with white farmers. We encouraged them to give up farming in South Africa. When their farms were bought, they moved overseas to places like New Zealand and Eastern Europe, where their rare skills were cherished. It is a good thing too, now that South Africa is being forced to import food to feed its population. The presence of thousands of South African ex-patriots farming overseas, means that the overall price of food goes down, due to an increase in supply, and we can thus buy staple foods at cheaper prices. We hope something similar will happen to the white executives we want to exclude from the labour market: granted, some will sit at home and do without a job, or take up jobs they are overqualified for, but it is our sincere hope that many of these tough executives will leave South Africa for our major competitors' markets, and work to take our share of exports markets away. That way, the global market becomes more competitive. It's like when we made sure barriers to trade with China were reduced, destroying the local textile market of the time, in doing so, we increased global market efficiency.

Q: What is the relationship between Zuma and the Gupta brothers?

A: They call him their 'Number One', and he calls them each 'G'. They really are cheese boys though, all that high flying cash making they do... even a new deal with Denel to cut metal... I hear they are firing their own metal cutting team to hire the Gupta's firm to do it... that is reduction of government. That is efficiency. Right now it is a priority to have FNB and the other banks open Gupta accounts so that those upgrades to Nkandla can be paid for.

Q: Thank you for your time, Minister Oliphant.

A: Oh! Call me Minister White Elephant, I don't like Afrikaans at all. It was a pleasure. In fact, call me Auntie. I like phrases of endearment.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Suffragettes, civil rights, and a sea change in American currency... perhaps - but perhaps not.

The currency of the American people is set for much change. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has announced plans to accommodate calls that have harkened back most potently, during the current presidency, of Barak Obama, for the dollar standard to embrace diversity. In the past, women have graced American currency for short periods, before the resonance of the call faltered, but a sea change of redesign is in the works, and this time it might just stick.


Harriet Tubman is set to grace the $20 bill, though the late figure will have to wait until 2020... or, some estimate, 2030 or later (if paper money is still being used then, and if possible future treasury secretaries stick to the plan). The choice of a woman with the word man in her surname was not a subtle troll by the treasury department. Tubman, unknown internationally, in America, is a heroic figure in her own right, she is without doubt worth her salt to grace the nation's salt, they say. The treasury suggested that her name resonated strongly with the American public, and that the former slave was an obvious choice to immortalise upon a symbol of the unstoppable dreadnaught of amoral Western capitalist endeavour, the same dreadnaught which cleanly ran over her rights to build America into an industrial power, when it relied on plantation profits to gain a footing in a then all too uncertain world. Given research suggesting that the dollar became a world currency, and the early American state gained world status, by means of horrid things such as slavery, perhaps the presence of a slave on the bill is fitting.

She, a woman of black ethnicity, a union spy, a former slave and abolitionist, is set to replace the slave owning, Native American forced relocation masterminding, industry loving President Andrew Jackson, after fans of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and the treasury, vetoed a plan to replace Hamilton's $10 mug, for the move. The move is not without controversy, with figures such as aspirant next president Mr The Donald Trump strongly lamenting the move to get rid of Andrew, who he says is a very important icon to the American people.

While America's first treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, is not being evicted by the current treasury secretary's shakeup, the $10 note is still set to undergo extensive changes. The suffragettes: Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony are set to replace a hitherto image of the treasury building, on the $10 bill. Amidst the suffragettes, Susan B. Anthony is not new to the party, she had been the visage of a short-lived $1 coin... until it went out of production.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr. and African American musician, Marian Anderson, the treasury assures, will be on the new $5 design.


So, next time, while on holiday overseas - in a place that accepts dollars as much as the local currency, when you buy some cheap product, made in appalling conditions in a nation, probably in Africa or Asia, without many protections for a poorly educated, possibly underage, overworked workforce, remember, you can rest easy... and pay with dollars that represent the best aspirations of humanity: abolition, universal suffrage, civil rights, etc. Money, after all, is what you make of it... for better or for worse. And perhaps, this time, the potent symbols planned for dollar notes, will actually stay there beyond the good publicity of the press release. If not, they join the noble graveyard of previous attempts, occupied by the likes of silver notes bearing the face of Martha Washington, who the average reader will no doubt instantly recognise as George's dear and much beloved wife - who will not be gracing any of the new notes, as it happens. Perhaps with the next redesign she will, or are we jumping the gun about even the current bunch of changes making it to ink? To quote the french: je ne sais pas !

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