Network: Websites

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Estuary English home/estuary/home.htm

It's making inroads into estuaries in the North-west as it conquers the UK, innit? However, plenty of people still aren't sure exactly what estuary English is. Some sites are less than helpful, being part of fantasy Web rings, or plain spoofs. This one, though, is exemplary. It collates information on the subject from many sources: journalistic and academic. For those with an interest in transcribing the dialect into other forms of English, help is at hand. There are Adobe acrobat files of abstracts, and handouts and notes from lectures and symposia to download and study. Social studies and linguistics aside, there is much of interest for anyone with more than a passing interest in the way language changes. At the very least it will enrich non-estuary English speakers' appreciation of EastEnders.


Consumer activism over the Internet seems an excellent way of dealing with those companies that are happy to take your money, but less keen to offer after-sales service worthy of the name. When the customer service department fobs you off, deciding on another course of action is not always straightforward. Complain!com thinks it is the answer. For a fee of $19.95, it will act as broker for consumers with complaints by identifying relevant company executives and drafting letters of complaint for consumers to sign and post. It has follow-up strategies, too, including fax and e-mail to "escalate" unresolved complaints. A database of cases will be maintained, enabling trends to be monitored and analysed. That's the theory. It launched recently in the US, and it is in talks with European partners and hopes to operate on this side of the pond before too long.

The Cafe Irreal awhit/index.htm

The animated eye peering from between the knife and fork on the front page sets the tone almost as well as the lengthy quote from Jean-Paul Sartre. A link to the existential Web ring at the bottom of the page is a dead give-away. Subtitled "International Imagination", this e-zine specialises in fiction that rarely gets published in English unless it's by Lewis Carroll, Franz Kafka or Jorge Luis Borges. "As a style of fiction," the editorial says, "it rejects the tendency to portray people and places realistically and the need for a full resolution to the story; instead, it shows us a reality constantly being undermined". Fiction is published twice a year and, although in English, is often in translation. There are some theoretical essays, helpfully classified as "fanciful" and "conventional", plus a profile, interview and some short stories from Josef Nesvadba, the leading contemporary subversive Czech fantasist and science fiction writer.