Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wars and Battles: The Boer War

I'm not sure how much space in British history schoolbooks is devoted to the Boer War. I'm not even sure the British even attempt to teach all their history, come to think of it. One thing I'm sure about though, there is even less space in American history books devoted to the Boer War. So, read this little blog post, and the next time the British equivalent of Jay Leno stops you on the street and sticks a microphone in your face and asks you who was PM during WWII, tell him, "First, tell me who were the participants in the Boer War." I'm sure the pest will leave you alone.

Actually, there were two Boer Wars. There was a short one in 1880 and a longer, bloodier, one 20 years later.

The Boer Wars took place in Africa.

The Boer Wars were connected to something called "Colonialism." That means if you want to understand the Boer Wars, you must first understand what Colonialism was. Is.

The little movie "Stuff" sort of explains it. First, you have stuff in your own country which you use and abuse until it is mostly gone; then you begin to think of the stuff that is located in OTHER countries as if it were yours and then you just go get it at will, as if that country were just your warehouse. This works best when you have guns and the other people only have spears.

And so it came to pass, over time, that several countries began to visit Africa and draw boundary lines and start carting the stuff back home. One of those Colonizers was NOT the USA, I hasten to add. Not in Africa. That I know of. Later the USA played the popular "Cold War Bidding-For-Temporary-Fair-Weather-Friends Game," but that was after the Boer Wars.

Many of the boundary lines for countries in Africa got drawn by these colonizing countries. Before that, all of the people on the African continent were just one big family and sort of just milled around as they pleased, loving and helping their brothers and sisters as they pleased, building pyramids and weaving baskets and like that. With the Europeans came boundary lines. And plantations. Mustn't forget plantations. And illegal immigration - don't forget the squatter-farmers. "Boer," incidentally, is the Afrikaans word for "farmer."

Well, the point is that many of these boundary lines between African countries have remained, even though many of the names of cities and countries have been Africanized and the colonialists pretty much bounced from power. Other words you should know:

Vaal. This is a river in South Africa. Land above that river is the Transvaal. There was a British colony called Transvaal, and other things were and are also called Transvaal. Even the South African Republic is often called the Transvaal Republic.

The first Anglo-Boer war (1880-1881) was between the Boers (descendants of earlier Dutch "settlers") and the British, who were also settled there to take stuff. This short first war resulted in the Boers winning their independence from the British in that area, and being allowed to keep their Dutch/Boer stuff.

Sadly (for the colonialists, at least) the African people who lived in the area didn't agree that all the stuff belonged to the newcomers. Quite the opposite, you might say.

Okay, the SECOND Anglo-Boer War, the one that is in the movies and history books, lasted from 1899 to 1902 and was very very bloody and contentious, and didn't end NEARLY as well for the Dutch folk. Farmers. Boers. Whatever. Their "Boer Republics" suddenly became known as "British Colonies." British troops were brought in from other colonies and possessions. The British suffered great loss from disease, as they were largely untrained and unaccustomed to the climate and terrain, but they did eventually squash the semi-huns after a few years. But the bloodletting was fearful and so were the British concentration camps for the Boers, but we'll save that story for another post.

Trivia: Afrikaans still is spoken and is in fact one of the eleven official languages of South Africa today. If you would like to try your hand at reading Afrikaans, my friend Frosty Girl posted in that language in her last blog entry.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scots Slang

Tanks and a tip o' the tam to Adullamite for pointing me towards a basic Scotslang primer.

The very first one was enough to throw ME fer a loop laddie...
I'm not sure I agree this is really slang as much as it is just a phonetic writing of the accent. Anyway...

"ABC Minors"

Give up?

I did.

Apparently there is a movie chain called ABC Cinemas in Scotland. Apparently they show movies on Saturdays where mostly children and preteens attend.

So far so, good. Same as in the States.

Anyway, let's see if we can get this interpreted. I won't be able to do it by myself, although I think I know what most of it means. Again, the question is "What is/are ABC Minors".
Saturday mornin' movies for weans at ABC cinemas. Show consisted of a shite children's film, usually wi Haley Mills in it. some cartoons, an a crap serial like "Attack o' the unconvincing robots." Ye went tae fling sooked jooblies at the screen and generally run aboot tae see if the man wid pit ye oot. If ye goat pit oot yer pals wid let ye back in through the fire exit.
Ok, I'm going to take an American stab at this.

Weems is 'tweens, right?

You want to fling soaked (?) JuJu Beans at the screen... to see if the usher will put you out (throw you out.) If you got put out, your pals would let you back in through the exit door (later, after the man stopped waching.)

How'd I do?

I really didn't get the "minors" part. I guess a kiddie matinee.
Now. Here are some Scottish sayings that I found on my own. I'll just give ye a few fer right now. See if you can tell what they mean. I mean in regular English. Heh.

1. Gonnae no' dae that!

2. Pure dead brilliant!

3. Yer bum's oot the windae!

4. Am pure done in.

5. Ma heid's mince.

6. Yer oot yer face!

7. Yer aff yer heid.

(Tell what they mean, not just translate word for word.)
Some actual words. Can you tell what these words mean?



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