August catch-up: second languages, the secret of love and is it all right to call someone stupid?

Six of the best catches landed by our trawler of the digital ocean
  • @johnrentoul

1. Map of the second most-spoken language in each country in Europe, compiled by Move Hub. The website has compiled an impressive amount of information from around the world, including maps of the world and of the main continents.

It is controversial. There are disputes about what constitutes a separate language ("‏languages are dialects with an army and a navy," Max Weinreich via Davide Denti), and Move Hub's definition is "second most common first language" in each country, which may be why, for example, it is Mirandese in Portugal, rather than Spanish, which a lot of Portuguese speak as a second language.

I have encountered Scottish cybernats before, but the Welsh ones are just as bad. They denounced the map furiously, saying that there are more Welsh speakers in the UK than Polish. Indeed, there are about 560,000 Welsh speakers in Wales, and perhaps another 100,000 in the rest of the UK, while there are about 550,000 Polish speakers here. But when I pointed out that there were far fewer who speak Welsh as a first language they didn't like it. The Welsh Language Use Surveys of 2004-06, for example, found that about 320,000 people in Wales described themselves as "fluent" in Welsh. Polish it is, I am afraid.

2. Which brings me to a question asked by Andrew Sullivan while I was away: "Does 'stupid' have a place in the political discourse?" Yes, it is a QTWTAIN.

3. “The secret of love,” as Lucy said in Peanuts, “is to eliminate the competition.” Thanks to Timothy Stanley for reminding us recently of the genius of Charles Schulz.

4. Robin Flavell had the last word on the summer craze:

"Hipsters are doing the Water Bucket challenge. It's the Ice Bucket challenge, but before it was cool."

5. Thanks to Gary Slapper for this early example of due diligence, allegedly a 19-century note of fees:




6. Finally, thanks to Kevin Hague for this:

What did the Glaswegian owl say when his dad explained the facts of life?

"You dae whit tae hoo?"