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17:52 UK time, Monday, 28 January 2008

Re Ian A's letter (Your Letters, Friday). At the risk of sounding like a pedant, "over" may or may not be a noun, but it's definitely not a verb. I think the word you're looking for is "preposition".
Adam, London, UK

As McDonald's are now giving out qualifications, does that mean that you could earn a McS instead of an MSc?
Andrew Lawrence, Sheffield, UK

As a teacher of English as a foreign language in a country as proud of its food as France is, it is a joy to spend a lesson on the delights of British cookery such as the Christmas pudding and the haggis and hear their shocked comments. But it was my turn to be shocked to read that the Americans have managed to come up with an offal-free haggis. So just exactly what is there in it? The journalist carefully didn't say. Any ideas, anyone?
Elaine Bonneau, Anglet, France

Yet again the BBC has distorted the truth (10 things we didn't know...). Ships produce twice as much CO2 as aircraft. True. Except that this is an absolute value not based upon quantity of goods moved. As ships' transport more than 90% of the world's trade the fact that they produce as a whole only twice as much CO2 as aeroplanes is excellent. If we used aircraft to do the same amount of transportation then the quantity of CO2 produced would be hundreds of time greater. Please BBC would you try and stop spinning everything and present the story correctly and in context.
Mark Chisholm, Dereham, UK

With regard to number four of last week's (10 things we didn't know...) - "Moleskin clothes used to be made of moles' skins" - may I predict what might be coming next week - could it, by any chance, be "Tortoiseshell items used to be made of tortoises' shells"?
Aleksi Venaða, Aberdeen

The Monitor is grateful for the clutch of e-mails from correspondents who, in varying tones of sarcasm, noted how shocked they were to learn of the provenance of moleskin trousers. The Monitor concedes that only the most elementary detective skills would be required in drawing a link between the variety of brushed cotton we know today and said pelt. Nevertheless, one only has to watch Phill Jupitus relating a little-known fact to a curious Stephen Fry on QI to appreciate that even the most learned polymath (and the Monitor doesn't for a moment assume to plant itself in the shoes of Mr Fry) has holes in his/her knowledge. Besides, the title of the strand in question is not "10 things Darren from Hornchurch didn't know..." nor "10 things we didn't SUSPECT...".

In "10 things we didn't know last week" , you say, in connection with the missing billions at Societe Generale, that "plain vanilla" is a term for 'basic financial instruments such as shares'. Actually, you miss a key point here. In this context, and in that of the Leeson affair to which you link it, it refers to exchange-traded index futures, as opposed to more exotic, over-the-counter derivatives. That distinction is key to how much money was lost. Since Leeson's day, financial institutions have come to think of index futures as straight-forward, everyday hedging and trading opportunities, that don't pose as much of a threat as the weird and wonderful packages of debt that no-one but the experts understand. That's dangerous, because they can rack up significant financial exposure for a minimum of initial outlay, and without strong controls this can get badly out of hand, on a scale that can break banks and move markets.
Ian Williams, Faversham

Re taking Britannia off the 50p (Paper Monitor, Monday). Perhaps the 50p coin could copy the US quarter in one respect. The US quarter is, over the next few years, going to have each US state depicted on it. We could have a representation of each county on the new coin, instead of Brittannia. Perhaps Essex could be depicted with a pair of furry dice?
Lewis Graham, Hitchin

All this hullabaloo over the new coin design for the 50 pence piece is a bit late - it was announced in 2005 that all coins were going to be redesigned.
Basil Long, Newark Notts

I know Havant & Waterlooville are a small team, but do they have tiny fans too? BBC News: "But some 6,000 met before dawn to fill 26 coaches on the route north."

Steve, Liverpool

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