Today marks the introduction of New English in the European Union. As a result of Britain’s exit from the EU, there is no longer the need for English to be one of the official languages of the Union. But given that English is a lingua franca (i.e., it is adopted as a common language among speakers with different mother tongues), the EU has decided to retain English as a “working” language… but with some modifications.
Effective Immediately: New spelling rules for EU citizens!
New guidelines have been drawn up specifying various simplifications. US spellings will be adopted, e.g.
color rather than
colour, along with other changes aimed at reducing the length of words so that documents become shorter, thereby lowering printing costs. A simplified grammar will be introduced where some “mistakes” are considered acceptable. For example, Europeans can now say
"I am here since yesterday", rather than the previously “correct” version:
"I have been here since yesterday". Perhaps more radically, Europeanized pronunciation will become the norm, so that it will be acceptable to say, for instance,
innovative rather than
worked rather than
workt. Furthermore, the following will all become official pronunciations of
To learn more about these changes and how the British government has reacted click here.
If you believed what you have just read about New English, then you are the victim of an April Fool’s prank!
In most of Europe, the US, Canada, and other English-speaking countries, the first of April is celebrated as April Fool’s Day. Individuals play jokes on each other and big corporations, national newspapers, and the media in general report incredible stories to the nation.
In the UK, the BBC specializes in such stories. On April 1, 1957, a BBC documentary managed to convince thousands of viewers that spaghetti grew on trees. Contented workers were shown collecting spaghetti off trees and then sitting down at home to enjoy their freshly picked dinners.
In reality, the cameramen had painstakingly hung up around 10 kilos of spaghetti in a little village near Lugano and persuaded residents to climb up ladders and gather it in. Within minutes of the broadcast, hundreds of viewers phoned in to ask where they could buy the amazing spaghetti trees (you can see the video on YouTube). In 1976, a BBC astronomer told listeners that Pluto would pass behind Jupiter at exactly 9:47 a.m. on April 1st, producing an increased gravitational pull which would make people feel lighter. He invited listeners to try jumping in the air and floating. The BBC switchboard was jammed with people who claimed the “experiment” had worked. One man said he’d hit his head on the ceiling and a woman claimed that she and 11 friends had floated around the room. In another BBC prank in 2008, as part of a TV series entitled Miracles of Evolution, viewers were witnesses to flying penguins that were on their way to the tropical rainforests of South America to escape the cold Antarctic weather.
How did April Fools jokes begin?
Nobody knows for sure how the practice of playing jokes on April 1st began. Some have traced it back to the Roman festival of Hilaria, which was celebrated on the first day after the vernal equinox (i.e., the first day of the year when there is more daylight than darkness). It was a day when all Romans were equal, all sorts of games were permitted, and everyone could disguise themselves as someone else and play tricks on each other.
Another possibility is that the practical jokes played on April 1st began in France in around 1582. Until then, the new year had always begun on March 25th (the same day that the Roman festival of Hilaria was celebrated) and these new year celebrations ended on April 1st. But in 1582, the pope changed the calendar so that the year would begin on January 1st and, of course, a lot of people forgot about the change. Those who forgot had a fish stuck on their back, which was called a poisson d’avril (fish of April).
So why a fish?
The French word poisson may actually be a distortion of passion. Christians of all denominations refer to Christ’s “Passion”, meaning his sufferance in the days before his crucifixion by the Romans, as well as his endurance on the cross. The events of the Passion lead up to the Christian festival of Easter, which is also celebrated at this time of year (March/April). Interesting, though perhaps only coincidental, is that a fish symbol, known as the ichthys, was used by early Christians (persecuted throughout the Roman Empire) to recognize a church.
However, it is not just Christians and western Europeans who have a fun celebration. April 1 is celebrated in many countries, including Russia where they call it Yumorina (as in ‘humor’). In India, the festival of Holi involves children playing tricks, such as putting salt in tea and firing water pistols at each other. In parts of South and Central America, they celebrate Holy Innocents’ Day (but on December 28, not April 1), which commemorates when King Herod killed the children of Bethlehem. In Mexico, for example, children play practical jokes on their elders on this day.
Tell us what you would change to make learning English easier
Going back to the New English mentioned at the beginning of this post, how would you like to see English simplified? What changes would you introduce to make the grammar, spelling, and pronunciation easier? And if you are a teacher of English, why not get your class to come up with new ideas for an “improved” English? Write to us at TextRanch (email@example.com) and we’ll share some of the best responses in a future post on this blog.
Finally, remember that it brings bad luck to play April Fools’ jokes after midday, so get pranking straightaway!
Across the globe, our customers are facing new and challenging times right now. As more people must work from home or in restricted capacities, precise communication has become more important than ever. At TextRanch, we’re helping to ensure your emails, reports, and other important messages are being communicated clearly and without any errors. We take that role very seriously, but we also recognize the importance of finding small ways to brighten our days. We hope the bit of humor in this post brings you a smile today.
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