INGLESE - home page and FAQ

by Adam Atkinson, the area moderator

Last updated: 30/1/98

This page is in English because it's the area's official language.

This page is best viewed with a web browser

Instructions on how to get to INGLESE (and indeed all the other areas)

How to get into chat

Purpose and policies

The INGLESE area was opened before MC-link had convenient access to newsgroups. At the time, there was some demand in MC-COMMENTS for an English area. I was about the only native English speaker on MC-link, so I offered to moderate the area. The offer was accepted. This means I have absolute power! Ha ha! However, you will find that I am, on the whole, a benevolent dictator.

What is the INGLESE area for? This has never been terribly clear, and in the years since newsgroups became easily available on MC, it has become less so. If you want to talk about something in English, you can do so in a newsgroup or on a mailing list. If you want to talk about English itself, you can do this on alt.usage.english or maybe misc.education.language.english.

So, how can I attempt to justify my area's continued existence? When people were demanding an English area in MC-comments several years ago, one response to the objection "You can do that on lists." was "But my English is awful and I don't want to inflict it on the rest of the world yet." and I suppose this is still reasonable. Still, many of the native English speakers who participate in lists and newsgroups have less command of their own language than you might think.

Let's say, then, that in these days of "liberté, egalité, connectivité" this area has the following uses:

  1. trying to write things in English if you don't feel up to newsgroups or lists yet. I will try to correct as many of your mistakes as I can, though I can't promise to explain why they are mistakes. Other people are welcome to do make comments/corrections as well, of course. I tend to be rather severe with people who make incorrect corrections.

  2. talking about the English language itself, with particular reference to "false friends" and other common mistakes made by Italian speakers. (There may well be newsgroups about English as a Foreign Language, but specificically Italian problems might be best dealt with here.) Put your favourite mistranslations here. (e.g. "copioni guscio"from Le Scienze or the truly superb "give head" -> "ascoltare"from Sex Tips for Girls. The global Usenet/list community is unlikely to be able to appreciate such things. Stuff about mistakes English-speaking people commonly make in Italian could well be relevant - they often illustrate a difference between the languages. (e.g. rare cases where the sequence of tenses differs)

  3. talking about other very local things such as where to find English- language videos/books in Rome.

  4. just being part of my personality cult.

I would say that's just about a good enough reason for this area still to be here.

Note that all messages must be entirely in English except for quoted words or phrases. Example: "Did you see that they translated 'Shell scripts' as 'copioni guscio' in the latest Le Scienze?". I really really don't want people posting messages entirely in Italian or saying things like "Here's 15 pages of stuff about mushrooms. Can someone translate it into English for me, please?" I appreciate that you may not find it easy to express yourself in English, but that's part of the point. Full-immersion, and so on. Well, not quite, since I'm not going to pretend I don't know any Italian at all. If you don't know the word "bathplug", then say "round black rubber thing with a chain on it" instead. I had to do exactly this in my first week in Rome. Builds character, it does. If you have something you want translated, put a brief message in the area asking if someone is willing to help you. If whatever it is is very long, expect to have to pay someone.

I used to be the only native English speaker on the system, but I see there are now several others. If you are one of them, or if you are bilingual, do please feel free to call me an ignoramus. Comments on my "How to improve" advice would be most welcome, for example. Native speakers from the U.S., Australia, Canada or wherever are MOST welcome to tell me when things I say are only true in the UK. In case it matters, I grew up in south-eastern England, and have a generic middle class south-east British accent. Anything I say about Yorkshire, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the US, Australia etc. is based on limited amounts of time spent there, conversations with "natives" of those regions, and of course films/TV etc.

Amongst the first 200 or so messages in this area you will find a number of book reviews, songs, messages about common mistakes Italians make when speaking/writing English, and so on. I've been less active since then.

Here are a few fairly random examples of oldish messages from the area:

You can buy books in English on-line from The Internet Bookshop in the UK and Amazon in the US, amongst other places.

You might want to have a look at my personal homepage as well. Then again, you might not. Who can say?

You may see references to "Red Pen", especially in older messages. This derives from the way my Italian supervisor at university used to mark my translations and essays: Something underlined in pencil was ok, but probably not quite what a native speaker would have said. Something underlined in orange pen was a mistake. Something underlined in red pen was a truly awful mistake. (Something like Lui ha stato bravo, say.) I think this is a useful categorization of mistakes. Also, it meant I was able to give my messages silly titles like Anne of Red Pens and Red Pens Don't Wear Plaid.

You may see references in the INGLESE area to wombats. These remarkably beautiful, graceful and intelligent animals live in Australia, and I didn't make them up.

I will put some photographs here of muffins and hobnobs as soon as I can get my hands on some. Er. Some photographs, that is.

If you're using a newsreader to access this area - as I do myself - then please make sure the eventuale HTML option is turned off. It's not happened yet, but if someone did post a Hell-spawned HTML-ridden message in the area, I'd probably be somewhere between a tad vexed and a mite peeved. This might result in a lessening or total suspension of my benevolence for a short period of time. Indeed, I might very well rise up in wrath, and smite the unworthy with... No, on second thoughts I'd probably just delete the message and be rude to whoever posted it, making nasty comments about people with Me too! buttons in their newsreaders.

Actually, if you have an email or news program with an HTML option, then turn it off no matter what you use the program for. People all over the world will love you for it. Turning off HTML in a newsreader is a bit like the scene in Good Omens where a demon kills all the people working in a telemarketing office - waves of goodwill and happiness spread around the world, as thousands of people are spared an irritation they might otherwise have suffered, and are thus less likely to kick their cats, be sarcastic to their spouses, etc.

Single URLs are ok, as seen in my own tagline, but that's the limit.

If you need to use mathematical notation for some reason, either use TeX, or make up some kind of ASCII notation and explain it carefully at the beginning of the message. No-one's ever needed to do this in INGLESE, but they have in MATENIGMICI.

Another thing I never ever want to see in my area is stupid hoax virus warnings. And I don't want to get them as private mail either. If you get mail full of capital letters and exclamation marks saying "Don't think! Forward me to everyone you know! Now! I'm oh-so-urgent!" just bin it. Please. See the Virus Myths page for more details. You should probably tell the gullible/ignorant people who forward these warnings to you about this site too. Oh, and tell them to have a look at the Gullibility Virus page as well.


ghira@mistral.co.uk