South Africa’s Tyla sparks culture war over racial identity

English is a very difficult language as we who were born to speak it know from the moment we meet someone from the other side of the railway track (Coco would have said over the border but English speakers from other parts of the world may misunderstand what that means). It is not merely the orthography that confuses. Every English reader, who has read the preface of the OED, knows how to pronounce ghotti and what also it means.

Words can sound exactly, well quite closely, the same, but it is in the spelling of them, there, their contrasting meanings are displayed. Other words may be spelt in exactly the same way, but have different meanings, so after this sentence which we read, read it we have. When you speak it out you may hear it said that the people of Ware wear warehouse wares where once were were-wolves.

Some words have the same spelling and the same meaning but different sounds depending upon where you find them in the sentence. The hour the hole in my argument appears, let me know. Whilst that example is, Coco reckons, always true, there is much controversy about some words and their vocalisation wherever they may appear in a sentence.

Yet other words have identical spelling and sound but completely contrasting meaning. You rely upon the context to understand which word is being used. So, when Coco says He cleft the bond what does he mean? There is insufficient context to understand which verb is being used.

Be careful in English then when you are dividing the spoil, that you give it not to two too many for fear of making spoil of your reputation.

Perhaps however the one of the most irritating parts of English is that there is no common authority to define spelling. Orthography matters, but not enough. The English are not governed by Roman law, at least not for the past 1600 years, and neither is its spelling unlike some other European languages, but when English breaks out from Europe, then it loses much of its freshness. For example, we have two similarly spoken and spelt words, but quite different Saviour and savour, both of which suffer from manipulation in the hands of others becoming Savior and savor. Coco supposes that it does bring them both closer to a single root word which means to cleanse, wash, purify or save, but the second of the two is actually from a different root word. The original L has been dropped in Saviour, and the original P has become a V in savour. There are words which link the two, so though the etymology may not be quite this clear: salver and salvor. You may also find that there is a close link between the flavour and taste of something to the testing of the food for the presence of a poison, potentially suggesting an ancient overlap in the uses of the derivatives of salve and saporo. Do not rely upon Coco for this analysis, please check it out yourself. Coco’s labyrinth has a number of misleading paths.

Coco has not mentioned, but in passing, yet the variety of vocalisation of words across dialects. When hat, hut, heart, hurt, and heat can only, in one dialect, only be distinguished by spelling having identical vocalisation is fascinating. My hat in hand my heart hurt at the heat of the hut afire.

The variety of the representation of English then in its orthography and vocalisation offers both confusion and opportunity. The referenced article indicates that the use of the word colored(sic.) is offensive in a certain circumstance. Coco would agree, it is most offensive when written on paper and should at all times be corrected, other than when used for didactorial (English words may easily be derived from others) and academic purposes. However, coloured in the same circumstance is no offence but a mark of honour. In some cultures the colouring of the body, quite apart from the natural colours, is a means of embellishment. It is cosmetic. Coco rather thinks that the majority who do this do not have the burden of English as the mother tongue so a different set of words is likely to be used [see Proscription].

That being the case, the learned use of English is to understand that though the words have similar, though not identical, vocalisation, the spelling indicates that they have different meanings, as different as remarked above as is between cleave and cleave. So, it may be an offence to say the man is colored but it is a great honour to say the man is coloured.

As is said elsewhere: Why do they not get it? How many different ways can you spell it in the English language?

A dangerous work(around)

You may have heard the expression: Rubbish in, rubbish out.

Forty years ago Coco used a early version of SuperCalc (SC2 – a spreadsheet like Excel for those who cannot remember) for the preparation of monthly reports under the operating system C/PM. It was ‘cutting’ edge at the time using simple lists of transactions which were converted into a report showing monthly, cumulative and projected figures against a flexible budget. Coco shall not go into the technical details of this. It was not many months before Coco noticed that the report sometimes did not balance.

How could that be? The original data was complete, and balanced. Careful examination of the code indicated that nothing had been left out. It was only when Coco had set the code to run step by step, updating the display at each step, that quite by accident the problem revealed itself. As you will know, and if you do not, ledger accounts have two sides, a debit (on the left) and a credit (on the right). The code identified separately each debit total and each credit total for every account. This is important for the grand total of the debits and the credits must agree. In order to obtain the balance on the account for the report, the difference between the debits and the credits on each account must be determined. That was a very simple action. Put the debits into column A, the credits into column B, calculate the balance in and pick it up from column C.

This is where the mistake occurred. As SuperCalc accepted the values in column B it erased the value in every 16th row, and only every sixteenth row, in column A.

It is said that, for a given set of inputs a computer will always give the same result. You may give it that set of inputs any number of times, nothing will ever be different. If something is different, then it you must look at the programme not the inputs.

Coco never found out what it was in the SuperCalc code that prompted it to do this, but it was consistent. The correct solution was to fix SuperCalc, but my solution was not to try to fix SuperCalc but to fix the data to work around the error. Coco added dummy accounts into the system, each of which would have no data assigned to them and would fall onto these 16th rows. After that the reports balanced. It was a concern however that there might be something else lying around which would creep up unawares. We found such things were lurking later, when the then victorious Excel now and again got an arithmetic calculation wrong. The problem is still with us today if we expect say +(1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1) to be 0, it is not quite zero.

So we consider the mRNA vaccine, where it is reported (Covid study: mRNA vaccines could be fine-tuned) that there is a one in three probability that the ribosome will incorrectly read the data held in the mRNA. The solution is, so they say, to use non-slip mRNA, which will eradicate the incorrect reading of the data. They speak of the data as code, and code it is, just as this note is itself written in an alphabetic code which we read with our eyes and interpret with our brains.

The data, the code, however is read (just as Coco’s data was read by the SuperCalc code) by a ribosome, which is itself a complex chemical machine with its own code that interacts with the data in the mRNA. If one in three times the reading of the data produces a different result it suggests that it is something in the ribosomes that are reading the data that is different. Changing the data may, as it did for Coco, skip the thing that we do not understand that actually makes the difference, but the thing we do not understand is still there waiting to catch us out in different circumstances.

There is another possibility. Coco mentioned above that a given set of inputs will always yield the same output. We have seen many situations in the electronic world where this did not seem to be the case. Careful examination showed however that the starting conditions, which we thought were identical were not. A prior process, which may or may not have taken place, influenced the results of the later inputs. There was, if you like, an unknown input over which we had no control, which changed the result. This was unlike Coco’s SuperCalc problem.

Should we not try to understand why the same set of data, the same code, produces different outcomes one in three times before we say we have fixed it? Coco did not fix his problem, Coco merely worked around it, not knowing what other problems may arise later. What is it that causes the ribosome to read the data ‘incorrectly’ one in three times? Or is it that it is the two in three times that it does what we want it to do that is the incorrect result?

The unintended result of the misreading, or possibly correct reading, of the mRNA is the production of a few unintended proteins. Coco thinks that the implication is ‘harmless’ proteins, but that is not actually said. So the workaround is to change the mRNA, the data, in such a way that the ribosome will always read the data as we want it to: but do we understand why it read the original data in two different ways, not just occasionally but quite regularly? What else was going on? What was the unknown input that caused the data to be read in either of the two different ways? We have not addressed that, have we?

To address the matter with a workaround in the data is both reckless and negligent. When Coco used a workaround, he was only dealing with the reporting of how money gathered and how it had been used, the reporting is important, yes, but mRNA affects people’s lives.


We use the word translation in many different ways, accountants and theologians having quite specialised uses of the term which may befuddle, without a translation, the poor man on the Clapham omnibus.

When you try to translate Do you feel special? and Do you feel different? into certain Romance languages the distinction found in Germanic languages may be lost. Difficulties abound when seeking to give the correct and proper meaning of words in one language in a second. But have you noticed that there is as much difficulty when translating from even very closely related languages?

The Wesleys wrote many hymns which are in use today, but they wrote in a different language than we speak today, though their language and ours are for the most part mutually intelligible. John Wesley was aware of the problem of translation however, for he is recorded as saying: I desire that they would not attempt to mend them; for they are really not able. John Wesley was a very able poet and not a mean user of the English language. Certain publishers thought that perhaps however he had not quite said what he intended to say and sought to ‘improve’ on the work of the author.

Coco is quite sure that were Mr Wesley to have lived in the 20th and 21st centuries his hymns and expressions would be just a sure footed as they were in another land and a different language. He knew what he was saying and said what he meant.

Sometimes however, modernists wish to translate into contemporary English that which was written in a different dialect and then fail to ensure that when they attempt to do so they have not changed to meaning of the author. Some also erase the obvious and leave behind the ridiculous:

Crown Him the Lord of years,
the potentate of time,
creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime!

is the 19th century English

Crown Him the Lord of years,
the potentate of time,
creator of the rolling spheres,
in majesty sublime!

is the modern substitute

There is a subtle distinction. Incidentally, whilst ineffable may not be in common usage, it is not an archaic word. It surprises Coco that the translator did not know that. The concept of the rolling spheres is however an archaic description of the cosmos however ‘poetic’ it may appear to be to our ears. Much more serious errors however can be made.

In the hymn Beneath the cross of Jesus, written by Elizabeth Cecelia Clephane (1830-69) in the middle of the nineteenth century we have these words:

The hymn begins:
Beneath the Cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand.
later we have:
O safe and happy shelter!
O refuge tried and sweet!
O trysting-place where heaven’s love
and heaven’s justice meet!

Which becomes:
Beneath the Cross of Jesus
O may I take my stand.
and later:
O safe and happy shelter!
O refuge tried and sweet!
That awesome place where heaven’s love
and heaven’s justice meet!

The changes may seem to be trivial, until you consider the difference in meaning between the former and the current expressions. Elizabeth knew her theology, and so apparently do the translators, but they have forgotten the fundamental principle of translation which is to express in the target language as precisely as possible what was said in the original. There are two significant errors here, which Coco suggests reflect badly upon the theology of the translators and perhaps illustrate a tendency in contemporary thought to downgrade the robust theology of the Bible.

Coco must admit that fain and trysting, unlike ineffable, are archaic words, though we are quite capable of understanding them. They may derive from a foreign language, that is the English of the nineteenth century, but many of our contemporary words derive from foreign languages and we are quite unashamed to use them: bhaji springs to mind, though Coco is as fond of them as Tigger is of thistles. The difference in meaning between the translation and the original is however considerable in both its modern and original understandings.

Fain is not an expression of a request for permission to do something, but rather an expression of a sense of unworthiness to take part in something of great importance. When you wish to see the king or some other important official, you must ask for permission, May I have an audience?, and then you must turn up at the appointed time, if you are granted an audience. This is not what Elizabeth meant, otherwise she would have used that expression herself. May I? was not foreign to the nineteenth century speaker of English. Elizabeth knew precisely what she meant: She had not sought an audience with the king, but rather the king had sent a letter to her: By Royal command we require the presence of Elizabeth at such and such a time and place. In her heart was both joy and fear. How could she appear in the presence of the king? She shrank back from it. Suppose she arrived and her attire was unsuitable or unpleasing to the king? Suppose she made some stupid or silly remark in his presence? I fain would go, she cries out, and go I must for I am compelled by his command to do so.

But the translator should understand this: God has commanded men everywhere to repent and to believe the gospel. Obedience to this command requires that we come to the cross of Jesus. It is not a matter of may but must. I must stand beneath the cross of Jesus.

The theology has been changed. To ask if I may stand beneath the cross is to ignore that we have been commanded to do so. Do I think that if I ask for permission, then the obtaining of that permission will suggest perhaps some element of good in me which prompted the king to allow me to stand there? Ah, that is not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who calls everyone to come to him. It is only those who think they have something to give him who will not come. They do not hear his voice, because they want him to reward them for the ‘good’ things they have done.

Secondly, the second change strips out of the hymn the most delightful doctrine that God’s love and his justice work together for the salvation of men. God is one. His attributes are not in conflict with one another. The place where love and justice meet is indeed an awesome, Coco would prefer to say aweful in its proper sense with a different spelling than use the contemporary term, but let it be, an awesome place. There is no doubt about that, but it was not that aspect of that place about which Elizabeth was writing, otherwise she too could have used a different expression than trysting. Trysting is nothing to do with awe. Trysting is to do with love and courtship. It is an aspect of our culture which perhaps our modern English world has forgotten.

Elizabeth knew exactly what she meant when she used that word to describe the place where love and justice meet. They had not gone to that place to settle their differences. There would be no great battle between love and justice. Love and justice had gone to that place as lovers. Love and justice had only one common purpose and aim, which God had expressed from before the foundation of the world, that the Son would be given the nations as an inheritance. For this to be fulfilled the Son would give himself for his people. The cross of Jesus speaks to us of both his love and his justice. It is their trysting place. In this way God would demonstrate that he is both just and justifier.

William Vernon Higham 1926-2016 speaks of the awesomeness of that place in his hymn:
Great is the gospel of our glorious God,
where mercy met the anger of God’s rod;
a penalty was paid and pardon bought,
and sinners lost at last to Him were brought.
Mercy and anger, love and justice, meet to fulfil the work of God.

In another nineteenth century hymn we have the very thing that Elizabeth expressed. It seems unlikely that Elizabeth would have known it at least in the English translation. First of all it was written in Welsh by William Rees (1802-83):
Here is love, vast as the ocean,
lovingkindness as the flood,
when the Prince of life, our ransom,
shed for us his precious blood.
Who his love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing his praise?
He can never be forgotten
throughout heaven’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion
fountains opened deep and wide;
through the floodgates of God’s mercy
flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
poured incessant from above,
and heaven’s peace and perfect justice
kissed a guilty world in love.

William Edwards (1848-1929) translated it to English and expressed in it what Elizabeth captured in her use of trysting place. Heaven’s peace, joins with heaven’s justice to kiss a guilty world.

Do not be misled by the bad theology that sees God’s justice being at odds with his love, or that which suggests that the God of the Old Testament is not of the New. Our God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, is one God, in whom there is no conflict between his love, peace, mercy, grace, anger and justice. Jonathan Edwards described heaven as a world of love. God is love, and where God is, in his love, anger, mercy and justice we have a trysting place to which all may come. Yes, we may fear to come, but we may come for the royal command has been issued:

Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:28-29

International Lymphoedema Framework – Uganda Framework

There is excitement in the world as the ILF begins an epidemiological (for those of you who do not understand that word, let Coco stand alongside you) study to ascertain the prevalence of lymphoedema in Uganda.

It is well known that lymphatic filariasis is endemic in tropical countries, alongside other mosquito borne diseases, but the real extent of the problem and its expression among the people is not properly understood.

Lymphatic filariasis is only one of the causes of lymphoedema in East Africa, all of the other causes, whether primary or secondary are also present, though the mix will be different than in Europe, and other parts of the world.

The International Lymphoedema Framework, through its chairman, has provided funding for the study which will be lead by Dr Arthur Bagonza of Makerere University in two districts in the village regions of Uganda.

Basic training in the identification of three stages of progression of the disease has been completed in Kampala this week and the lead field workers are ready to take the tool out into the field to complete their survey. Dr S Narahari of the IAD, India, and Professor Christine Moffatt will act as referees to confirm or vary the stage assessments made by the field workers.

The survey will assess the numbers and proportion of individuals in the community affected together with the impact of the disease upon the quality of life of the sufferers. The results will be used to inform the Ministry of Health, who have given their unqualified support to the study, in the allocation of resources to combat the problem and relieve the suffering.

Dr Arthur with Dr Alfred Mubangizi, Assistant Commissioner Health Services – Vector Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health with the rest of the team who attended the inaugural meeting.

The Ugandan framework, lead by Dr Arthur Boganza and Lydia Kabili, is a newly formed framework within the International Lymphoedema Framework and benefits from a longstanding relationship with Prof. Linda Gibson and Makerere University.