What you can see in the picture is an instance, on the wall of the castle in Graz, of the personal motto of Friedrich III (1415-1493), Holy Roman Emperor from 1452 until his death. The A.E.I.O.U. sequence appears on many of the buildings commissioned by Friedrich and also on such things as his tableware. Its meaning remained his secret until shortly before his death, when he announced, it is said, that it stood for Alles Erdreich Ist Österreich Untertan, which means “All The World is Subject to Austria”. According to Wikipedia there are alternative meanings to the motto, but all have the same rather grandiose import.

I learned this curious fact from the first episode of a three-part BBC series on the history of Vienna and the Habsburg dynasty. I learned a good many other things from the programme, but I also suffered many bouts of aaaaaaaaaaargh. These were entirely due to the presenter, Simon Sebag Montefiore, who has appeared on this blog before. Honestly, the man is a menace. One would think he makes it a policy to cram as many ridiculous pronunciations of English and other languages into the shortest possible time. There were far too many for me to remember, but here are a few of the outstanding onesː

Österreich is pronounced ˈuːstəraɪk
Hohenfall, the title of Filip Fabricius, a survivor of the Second Defenestration of Prague, was pronounced ˈhəʊənfɔːl
The English word cadaver was pronounced ˈkædəvə

SSM was gracious enough to admit at one point that he was “no scholar of German”. To which the only possible response is “You don’t say!”

Photo credit: Andreas Praefcke. Used under this licence.

There is nothing to say

At least there hasn’t been for a few weeks. Sorry about that, folks. There is something to say now. This is a rant, but not about soccer really, although I could rant all year about soccer.

Every Saturday a small pamphlet thing comes along with the newspaper. It is called “The Guide” and amongst other things it lists the television programmes for the week, well those on some channels anyway. This week apparently there is a celebrity edition of a show called The Cube. In it various celebs are going to try to raise money for charity. All well and good.

One of the celebs is a footballer, whom I have never heard of. The Guide reports that the host of the show is heard to say to this geezer “You are footballer”. Now why the host, let us call him Jim Idiot, because I am too lazy to go and get The Guide to check his name, should say such an odd thing is anyone’s guess.

Would that were all! The clever-clever writer of the blurb in The Guide, let us call him/her…oh you think of a name for yourselves…remarks that Jim Idiot is avoiding prepositions.


There is nothing to say.

Terra errata

I have just been using Google maps to find the location of a road in Penzance. The experience has hardened my opinion that the internet is just full of garbage.

Oh, I found the road OK. Just in case you have the slightest interest the name is Polwyn, which means ‘white pool’. But while looking I came across a jaw-dropping number of goofs.

First, I came across “Wherrytown Co-operative Food Market”, but not at Wherrytown, which is an area of the Penzance seafront, but about half a mile inland and probably a mile east of where it really is. Then there were an art gallery and a fish and chip shop, located on the map at the other end of the fairly long street from their true positions. A clothing store is apparently in the middle of the main car park in the town and if you want to find Lloyd’s Bank, trust not the map! You will end up about a quarter of a mile west of where it actually is and find yourself at the Police Station oops! Royal Mail sorting office. A bakery is shown on the wrong side of the road and anyway it closed down about three years ago and a pharmacy is really a good 200 metres away from its map position. I could go on…


This post is a demonstration of why surfing the internet can be injurious to one’s peace of mind. There I was innocently looking at youtube videos to see if I could find some nice examples of various English accents. Suddenly, my eye lit upon a link to a site which purports to teach you how to pronounce various English placenames. The name that really caught my attention was Chapel-en-le-Frith. What I heard was a synthetic female American voice. Why synthetic? Why American? But the worst was…


I rest my case.

Dürrenmatt and a Rantette

Friedrich Dürrenmatt
1921 – 1990

It seems I have been revisiting old favourites quite a bit recently. Here is another. Friedrich Dürrenmatt was Swiss and probably best known as a playwright, but he also wrote fiction, including a few detective novels. The best of these are, in my opinion, (1) Der Richter und Sein Henker (The Judge and his Hangman), (2) Der Verdacht (Suspicion) and (3) Das Versprechen: Requiem auf den Kriminalroman (The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel)

These novels are not your usual, run-of-the-mill whodunnit. For instance, the protagonist of (1) and (2), Inspector Hans Barlach is seriously ill and has been given only a year to live. In (2) he manages to track down the bad guy from his sick bed. In (3) the policeman involved resigns his post so that he can continue his investigation into the murders of three young girls. All three novels are dark, moody and peopled by grotesque characters.

Now for my little rant. I have a Penguin book containing English translations of these three and a couple of other of Dürrenmatt’s novels. I have nothing against the translation, but the blurb on the back of the book presents very brief summaries of the plot of the novels. One of the characters in (2) is called Dr Nehle. The blurb calls him Neble. The protagonist in (3) is called Matthäi. The blurb calls him Matthias. Why? Don’t people check things any more? I don’t know why I am so irritated about this, but I am.

Photo credit: Elke Wetzig. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0