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Your Letters

18:26 UK time, Monday, 14 April 2008

I sent an email to South Eastern Trains today after my train left the station four minutes early. The automated response I recived told me they would reply to me "within 36 working hours". This is the first time I've ever heard this phrase, and is a rather cunning way of saying "we'll get back to you within a week"!
Ian C,

Dear BBC, re Daily Mini-Quiz results, much as I don't want to admit it, Ronan Keating is a fellow Irishman. A bit sloppy there eh?
Kind Regards,
Gavin Carroll, Paris

MONITOR NOTE: The GBR classification is that of the Flora London Marathon organisers (see details of Keating's entry here). Either Keating entered his nationality as GBR or someone else did for him.

Regarding Helen Horsley's comment (Your Letters, Friday) there are in fact two words in English - "homage" (the one she likes), meaning approximately "admiration" or "tribute", most commonly found in the phrase "pay homage to", and "homage" (pronounced as in French, and usually written in italics), meaning "derivative work" or (better) "rip-off". Compare author/auteur; reporting/reportage, etc.
Jim Allen, Dunfermline, Scotland

Re "Why girls don't play guitar", violin most popular instrument in schools... not a chance! I teach 100 guitar students a week and in all the schools I visit the violin has the least number of students studying it, if any. The guitar is either the most popular or second behind keyboard/piano.
Tim, Essex, uk

Re Your Letters, Friday: Mr Monitor, you should try asking for a teacake in Yorkshire. You won't get any chocolate here. A teacake is a large flattish bread cake - with currants if you want.
Terry, Harrogate

Surely a teacake is neither a cake or a biscuit, but an non-denominational, politically correct hot cross bun?
Kay, Nottingham

The Monitor says teacakes are "by definition" covered in chocolate. The Collins English Dictionary has this to say in its definition: "Teacake (noun, Brit) - a flat cake made from a yeast dough with raisins in it, usually eaten toasted and buttered." I've never tried buttering and toasting anything that's covered in chocolate. Does anyone have any tips to offer before I try?
T Cake, Queensland, Australia

The video article on producing electricity from tomatoes appears, itself, to be made from re-cycled rubbish. This story was run by the Guardian back in January where readers quickly observed that the facts were back to front. As I understand it, this item refers to a scheme in which ordinary, environmentally-unfriendly, fossil fuel is used to power a gas turbine producing electricity for local businesses. Instead of venting the exhaust to the atmosphere, it is pumped into greenhouses where tomato plants benefit from the waste heat and carbon dioxide, which helps them to grow. Laudable re-use of an otherwise wasted resource, but nothing to do with tomato power.
Kelly Mouser, Upminster, Essex

I love listening to the BBC on WBUR90.9FM! I would love to visit London and see all the sights I never got to see in the Navy! I still love to listen to all the songs from the British Invasion of the 60's!!!!!
Larry Bloch, Boston, Massachusetts

Re Paper Monitor, Tut tut, don't you mean "Editing with Adobe Photoshop (c)"?
Ian C, Kent

Re "Made in China", If you are refusing to buy toys made in China, is that a Toycott?
Catherine Wakely, Hitchin, UK

Re 10 Things we didn't know last week:
I believe that there are actually two types of white whale, the other being the Narwhal.
Rob Clement, Southampton

I was reading your pronunciation page on how to pronounce Tsvangirai (How to Say). As a shona speaker i suggest this instead. TS-Vangi-ra-yi.
Gwayi, Sheffield, UK

Re "Milngavie bids to host Olympics". Can any MM readers or the BBC Pronunciation Unit shed any light on why Milngavie is pronounced "Mulguy"?
Tabitha, Kent, UK


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