DOES THE BBC KNOW ENGLISH?

In its recent review of the British press the BBC Ukrainian Service predicted a rather gloomy future for the country which, alongside with Poland, is hosting Euro 2012 football championship. When translated from Ukrainian into English, the quote reads as follows: “It looks as if another crucial incident will be enough for Ukraine to desintegrate altogether.” Those who read Ukrainian may go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/ukrainian/press_review/2012/06/120629_foreign_press_review_rl.shtml   Being surprised at the illogicality of the conclusion as it was presented in the Ukrainian variant, I searched for the original article, which is  at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/spain/9362714/Euro-2012-whatever-the-critics-say-give-me-pass-masters-Spain-every-time-over-Englands-route-one-failures.html  The author Paul Hayward comments on the political situation in Ukraine in the context of Euro-2012. Referring to the article by James Meek in the London Review of Books, who, in his turn, mentions that quite a number of Western political leaders are boycotting the matches in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, Paul Hayward writes: “a swamp of corruption and sub-Putinesque authoritarianism,” Ukraine does indeed feel as if it is one bad incident from a crackdown.“ I gave a sigh of relief: Ukraine’s future is not hopeless, after all. The word crackdown, which was understood by the BBC observer as desintegration, or collapse (probably, confused with crack up) means only “to take punitive measures, enforce strict obedience to law regulations.” Cf. the examples from Webster’s Dictionary: <the government cracked down on violators>, or  <Because of the gambling  the police are starting to crack down>.

It is a recognized fact that the English of the Ukrainians ranks, euphemistically speaking, “somewhat below the average.” At the International Airport of Boryspil a sign may invite you to have your hair done at a “Hairdresser Saloon”, which for me is associated sooner with a cowboy brawl in an American tavern rather than with a beauty salon. Or, how about a lady in her forties on Khreshchatyk who is wearing a T-shirt with the inscription ”Too Cool for School”? However, a BBC journalist has no right to such howlers.

Having written all that, I remembered Mark Twain, who used to take it all in good fun and once remedied a similar situation with his famous phrase: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

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