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Showing posts from April, 2010

Constituencies, wards and local councils

Constituencies (a.k.a. parliamentary constituencies): each electing one Member of Parliament (MP) every 5 years to the House of Commons (Parliament). There are 650 constituencies in the UK. Wards (a.k.a. electoral divisions or electoral wards) is the primary unit of English electoral geography for borough and district councils, county councils or city councils. Each ward elects either one or two councillors to be members of the local council. There were 9,456 electoral wards/divisions in the UK and each ward has an average electorate of about 5,500 people, but ward population can vary substantially. Local council is made up of a number of Councillors (Cllr) who meet regularly to make decisions about the direction of the council and the work it does for the community. As elected bodies local councils are responsible to their local community. Attending a council meeting is the best way to find out what they do and how they make decisions. Members of public can attend public council m

St George's day

St George's day, My daughter made a red cross flag in school. She can tell me how St. George fought dragons. In her version, St George didn't fight and kill the dragon, he just stood there, smiling (she made a smiling face to mimic the imaginary St George's smile, a little bit ugly though), and staring the dragon, then the dragon  just ran away, it didn't die.

No Late Fee Collection Books

I borrowed a book, "Practical English Usage", by Michael Swan, published by Oxford University Press. There is a NLF green mark on the bottom-right corner of the book cover, on the title page sticks a notice: No Late Collection This book is part of our No Late Fee Collection. We will renew it automatically for up to six months so there will be no late fees. Please return the book within six months or,  if you want to keep it longer, please renew it. This policy seems very considerate. To my experience, all reference books or dictionaries are not allowed to be taken out of the library, they are used to be "REFERENCED" inside the reading room, then these books are just decorations, standing on the book shelves for collecting dust.

How The United Kingdom Is Governed

MPs are elected through a system called 'first past the post' . In each constituency, the candidate who gets the most votes is elected. The government is then formed by the party which wins the majority of constituencies. Elections to the European Parliament use a system of proportional representation , whereby seats are allocated to each party in proportion to the total votes it won. If an MP dies or resigns, there will be another election, called a by-election . The Whips are a small group of MPs appointed by their party leaders. They are responsible for discipline in their party. Life Peers are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Lords  can become very important if the majority of its members will not agree to pass a law for which the House of Commons has voted. The House of Commons has powers to overrule the House of Lords, but these are very rarely used. The official home of the Prime Minister is 10 Downing Street, but he al

Easter for the live, Hallowe'en for the dead

Besides Christmas Day, New Year, Valentine's Day, and April Fool's Day, there are other festivals and traditions which are not so well known to foreigners. Among these, Easter is for the live, so celebrated with eggs, chicks and bunny (rabbit); while Halloe'en for the dead, celebrated with frightening costumes, pumpkin lanterns, and scary tricks. Guy Fawkes Day and Remembrance Day are social and political festival, the former related to the struggle between Protestant and Catholics, the latter related to the World War I and II. Easter The word originates from the name of a goddess of fertility and sunrise whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, We may say that Easter related to east , as this word also means "wind from the east". Christians adopted the traditional festival name and many of the celebratory practices for their Mass of Christ's resurrection. Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. C

The Church of England: What does these tongue-twistering words mean?

The Church of England is called the Anglican Church in other countries and Episcopal Church in Scotland and in USA. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 meaning the English Church. Adherents of Anglicanism are called Anglicans. The word "Episcopal" is Middle English, from Late Latin episcoplis, from episcopus, meaning bishop; Episcopal Church is a church governed by a bishop. The king or queen (monarch) is the head, or Supreme Governor, of the Church of England. The Monarch is not allowed to marry anyone who is not Protestant . The spiritual leader of the Church of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian , national and free from state control. Presbyter means "an elder in a church", the adjective form of this word in Greeks also means "older", and the root of it possibly originally "one who leads the cattle." Scottish church are govern

Derby Accents

Well known dialects in England are Geordie (Tyneside), Scouse (Liverpool) and and Cockney (London). In this BBC article , it's said that many words of Middle Ages origin are conserved in Derbyshire dialects through church, such as "thee, thou", etc. We learned English in school in China, my teacher used tapes recorded from the Voice of American, so I was quite not used to BBC English. Now nearly ten years in this country, my ears can't stand American talking, they seem open their mouths wider and talk louder than English do, this make me feel that American are very arrogant and love to exaggerate what they are talking. My daughter picks up some local accents at school, she says puppy as poppy, and systematically change all these words, such as up/op, come/com, touch/toch, hurry up/horry op. But the funny thing is children can pick up an accent so quickly. When we just arrived here two years ago, our neighbour asked us if my daughter were born in Northern Irela