Occasionally I receive letters from Bristol City Council. When I do, there's invariably a message on the back, repeated in sundry languages, inviting non-English speakers to request the same letter in translation. As you'd expect, the choice of languages reflects Britain's imperial past: Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Gujarati are all there. Then there are Arabic, Kurdish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Somali. Finally, there are two European languages, of which one is, unsurprisingly, Polish. But what do you think the other might be? Any guesses?
It's Portugese. I wonder why? I don't think there are particularly large Portugese or Brazilian communities here. I'd be very surprised if there were more Portugese than Spanish speakers, at any rate - and yet Spanish isn't listed.
In other news, I was delighted yesterday to hear a radio interview with a man representing a number of groups devoted to helping ill-equipped hill-walkers who get into difficulties when bad weather sets in. The interviewer introduced him, without a trace of irony, as speaking for "an umbrella organization."