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Transcript: Alphabetical advantage
It’s useful to have your name at the top of a list. People are much more likely to see it there, which is why so many businesses choose a name that begins with the letter “A”.
Why, then, does Britain call itself the United Kingdom? At least its name appears ahead of the United States – and the Vatican City. But with so many drop-down menus on the internet, it’s time we learned from the world of commerce. We need a name that puts us up there with Albania.
Scotland has shown us the way. In 2021, Scots who were in favour of independence could choose between the Scottish Nationalists and a new, pro-independence party called Alba.
Why two parties? Support for an independent Scotland has grown since Brexit, but Alba was basically the product of a quarrelStreitquarrel. Alex Salmond, who used to lead the Scottish Nationalists, to fall out with sb.sich mit jmdm. zerstreitenfell out with his old friend Nicola Sturgeon, now Scotland’s first minister, and started a new party.
Alba is also an old name for Scotland. You can test it by going to the BBC’s UK website: if you click on “Alba”, you get news stories in GaelicgälischGaelic, Scotland’s own language.
The BBC site also offers a link labelledmit der Bezeichnunglabelled “Change your nation”. It gives you a menu where you can choose between news from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. I’m sorry to say that it doesn’t let you change your nation by reforming its housing market or to alter sth.etw. (ver)ändernaltering its tax system.
Or its name. The Alba Party was a failure at the election, but the idea behind it has potential. If England made French its official language, the name Angleterre would put us much higher up the list. As a bonus, it would really annoy those who support Brexit.
But that would still leave Angleterre behind Allemagne, which makes it a non-starter psychologically. Let’s just wait for Wales and Northern Ireland to join the Scots in an exodus from the UK, and then we can at least call ourselves Anglia.
Anglia is another old name beginning with “A”, and it even helped a young cleric in sixth-century Rome to make a punWortspielpun when he saw some children being sold at a slave market. Wishing to know where the children were from, he was told that they were Angles. “Not Angles,” he to quipwitzelnquipped (in Latin), “but angels.” Angels perhaps, but not yet Christians. So, when the young clericGeistlichercleric became popePapstPope Gregory I, he sent St Augustine to spread Christianity in Britain.
Today’s “Angles” – in other words, English people – come in two sorts: the ones who voted for Brexit, and the right angles.
If everyone does leave the UK, Boris Johnson will look more and more like Shakespeare’s King Lear, who as an old man divided Britain into three countries, and then went mad. before longschon baldBefore long, the UK could be smaller than Andorra.
Maybe even smaller than San Marino, which is really tiny but to make up for sth.etw. wettmachenmakes up for it by producing enormous postage stamps. If you collect British stamps, you may soon need a much bigger stamp album. Possibly several albums. Or should the plural be “alba”?
Source: Spotlight 13/2021, page 13
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