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Wait. What? 20 May 2013

Posted by uggclogs in Life, Philosophy.
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Last week, at the hearings on alleged tax evasion, the chairwoman of the British parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, described Google as ‘evil’.

For allegedly trying to pay less tax.

Now, taxation, especially international rules surrounding the plethora of systems and legislation out there, is an entire separate kettle of fish, which I will not jump into.

But to describe tax evasion (whether perceived or real) as ‘evil’ is a bit much isn’t it?

The word ‘evil’ is defined (by my very limited internet search) as ‘profoundly immoral and malevolent’.

Genocide is evil. Tax evasion is, at best, not very nice, or at worst, illegal.

And I am sorry, it simply does not qualify as a moral issue. Taxes are a man-made invention. It is not actually a measure of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. It is an agreement that we as humans have imposed on ourselves to be able to provide a ‘greater good’.

And I get that it was a play on words, as Google’s mission is ‘do no evil’. And that we all have to pay our fair share. And that without taxes, a government can’t implement all the lovely things it would like to implement.

So if Google has broken laws in what it has done, let them pay restitution. Throw the book at them, or whatever. If they have not broken any laws, and you still disagree with the level of tax they paid – then change your laws.

But let’s not water down the English language and start calling all the things we disagree with as ‘evil’.

As they are plainly not.

Lost in Translation 14 September 2010

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I have an immense sense of relief at the moment.

I was told today that a staff member was arrested.
Turns out, though, that there was actually just a minor hiccup in translation:

She got pulled over by traffic police.

I am extremely relieved.

I am stumped 2 June 2010

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One of the kids at Blue Dragon asked us English speakers what the phrase “Lay My Love On You” means.

I am at a loss how to explain that one.

Language Tongue Twisters 14 May 2010

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Speaking other languages often makes for funny situations. Some of them are just funny because you cannot get your meaning across. Others are funny because of what you say instead of what you meant to say.

This meant that while in France (learning French) I managed to proclaim that I am unable to swallow doctors, when in fact I tried to convey that I have trouble swallowing pills.

Or that time where (still in France) I told my class mate that I have a sore chicken, instead of a sore shoulder.

Pretty funny, but relatively tame. (I was also 15).

Except recently, when I went to the local store and asked for a can of coke. I always try to speak Vietnamese to the shop owners, and they totally love and encourage me.

So they have been very kind and flexible with my lack of language skills.

Not remembering the word for can, but remembering that any type of container has always been called box before, I ask for a box of coke. Not wrong, but not correct.

The guy smiles, and corrects me.

Next time, I cannot for the life of me remember what he said ‘can’ was in Vietnamese, so again, I ask for a box of coke. Sure, he says, and again corrects my Vietnamese.

Third time lucky, I think. However, I am a very visual person, and I normally need to have words spelt out to me am I to remember them. So I walk into the shop and ask for (what I believe to be) a CAN of coke. (Notice the slight tinge of pride in my voice as I manage to ask this).

The entire shop (shop keepers, customers, everyone) literally burst out laughing, and can nearly not keep themselves upright as they give me a can of coke. They are laughing so much, that they don’t even muster the straight face needed to correct me.

Back at HQ, I consult someone to find out what I had asked for and what was so funny about it.

Turns out I had asked for a vagina of coke.

Nice.

Language troubles 15 April 2010

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The English language is not my first language. And although I think I master it relatively well, and I do probably consider it my first language by now, I only discovered this week that the expression is

“to live vicariously through someone else”

and not

“to live precariously through someone else”

as I have always said…

Vicarious: experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another

Precarious: depending on the will or pleasure of another

Interesting.