back to article Innovation creates instability, you say? BLASPHEMY, you SCUM

“Mobbafer.” I’m sorry? “Mobbafer.” I didn’t quite catch that. “Mobbafer.” So, ah, you mean, hmm… mob-ba-fer? “Mobbafer! Mobbafer!” When dealing with people who have impenetrable accents – and by that I mean any accent different from my own – I don’t get angry, I get embarrassed. As the interlocutor tries harder to be …


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  1. codejunky Silver badge

    Good article

    I too have problems understanding accents but I also have a fairly variable accent which I can never be sure what it will be until I hear it.

    The point about innovation and change for change sake is on the mark perfectly. But I thought people had pretty much stopped innovating for improvement and now just create as much as possible with the hope that something becomes popular.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Good article

      I thought there was still quite some innovation going on: find ways to retrieve EU money.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Good article

      The point about innovation and change for change sake is on the mark perfectly.

      A quarter of a century of software development makes me agree all the way. And so much of it is just old ideas wrapped up in jargon and YetAnotherFramework.

      As for train doors not closing the one behind me on this morning's CrossCountry run up to Birmingham did. And to prove how clever it was it kept doing it for five minutes with no-one needing to press the button.

      On a related note I have to praise CCR for their ability to only have a working light for my seat on sunny days. It shows a remarkable ability to predict the weather and where I will choose to plonk my arse down. 's a bit annoying though.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Good article

        >> On a related note I have to praise CCR for their ability to only have a working light for my seat on sunny days

        I guess it's a solar-powered light.

      2. Tom 35 Silver badge


        Don't forget YetAnotherPlatform.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Good article

      I had a problem like that today. My German is very good, but I was in a phone conversation with an Austrian, his accent was so heavy, I only picked up about half of the conversation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good article

        " I was in a phone conversation with an Austrian, his accent was so heavy, I only picked up about half of the conversation."

        Don't be so critical. I'll bet his German was better than the handful of useful German phrases I learned from Commando war comics. Luckily for my recent business trip to Germany at least half the population there speak better English than most UK residents do.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Good article

          yes, those that speak English generally speak it very well, especially from a grammatical standpoint.

          However, my fiance doesn't speak any English and most people where I work don't speak much English either. I end up writing most English based communications, presentations and now translating our new website into English.

  2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    a fantasy near-future in which high-speed-train passengers will be able to pull e-reader devices out from their armrests and download a book to read for the journey

    I'd rather see the fantasy near-future where everyone on the train has armrests, as provided by everyone actually having seats rather than being packed in like stand-up sardines...

    As for the rest of it, a nice article but it seems you don't have or deal with teenagers much either? It's good practice for decoding similar verbal obscurity.

    (Paris, as we're talking about fantasy and teenagers here)

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Ah, teenagers.

      When they try to communicate with me I generally wait for around ten seconds (or their first breath) before I hold up a hand and say "slow down there, old ears can't keep up."

      Generally they understand and provide an audible speech pattern - for about a minute before diving back into 7th gear.

      Rinse & repeat.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        I spoke to an Irish guy on the phone this morning. I'd not managed to even start to focus on his name at the beginning of the call, before he'd gone on to give me his company, the quote number and 3 questions about the product codes. That was the first second of the conversation over in a blur of incomprehensible speed.

        After about a minute, I'd managed to figuretively jump on him, wrestle him to the ground and wring a few words out of him. And conversation could begin. I found that the trick was to keep asking questions. He seemed to have an accelaration period, so the first ten words were audible. After which, he'd approached sufficiently closely to the speed of light for him to be inaudible in my time-packet.

        I'm pretty good at accents. I was the only one of my friends who could understand Pat the glaswegian welder. Until he got excited or drunk, when only dogs could hear him.

        I'd expect to get 98% of a high-strength SW Irish accent at normal speed. But like the tortoise who got mugged by 4 snails, it all just happened too fast...

        I'm a bit of an accent mongrel myself. My parents are South London, moved to a South East market town, so add a bit of twang (burr?) of the old, dying, county accent and a large dose of posh, picked up from grammar school in the posher town-next-door. So it all tends to be a bit variable.

        1. WeeGordy

          IAS, as a near-Weegie myself living in the Sarf of Ingerlund, that's bloody hilarious. I've spent many a moment in deep accent misunderstanding, wondering why the hell the people around me seemed to be speaking fluent Swahili while I was addressing them in Farsi. Seems we were both speaking English, but not as she is spoke by Mrs Queen Woman. After over 30 years in the Sarf I still can't speak the language proper and regularly confuse my colleagues.

        2. Andus McCoatover

          Ace response to an ace article!

          Ta Muchly!

  3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    My all-time favourite was a German* guy who told me that he is a very impotent manager in his company. I was dazzled by his blunt honesty. Until I realised that the word he was after was in fact important.

    *Maybe he was Austrian or Swiss, I don't remember.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: German guy who told me that he is a very impotent manager

      My first employer, IDG, used to have a French CEO who pronounced "focus" as "fuckus". After half an hour sending us to sleep with a long speech about financial results, he woke up everyone in the room when he said he wanted our UK managing director to focus.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: German guy who told me that he is a very impotent manager

        To be fair, the English pronounciation is not the easiest or most logical. Then again, I'm still wondering how to pronounce "Phuket" ;-)

  4. Lionel Baden

    Im Sorry Alistair

    I really want to offend your article (for the amusing backlash) but its just what i need to read on a friday.

    Grumpy men UNITE !

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Long live the BS meter

    Now THAT is an area I'd welcome some innovation in, but there is then a risk of recursion :).

    If I recall correctly, there is a UK uni which has a visual computery version of what Tim Roth had in Lie to Me (micro expression analysis) - on the risk of violating a patent somewhere, I'm going to attach a Really Loud Claxon to that. It is certain to make presentations a lot more lively :)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Long live the BS meter has specially printed cards that you can hold up if you suspect bullshit. Except they're a bit ruder than that:

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Long live the BS meter

        Plus you probably risk incurring the wrath of John Lloyd, Stephen Fry and Alan Davis for aping QI.

        Whether this is a good or bad thing I will leave as an exercise to the student...

      2. John Dawson

        Re: Long live the BS meter

        I read that as smelly our mum - oh well....The card however is priceless - thanks, it has made my day! I guess I am easily pleased :)

  6. sandman

    Meretricious marketing mumbling

    Go to virtually any software/services company website and you'll get to read plenty about innovation and change and how the product/services will solve all your company's problems/create world peace and cure cancer. What you won't find is actually what they do or wan to sell to you. I know, I've worked for a few of them and in some cases even I couldn't figure out what we did from the website

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Meretricious marketing mumbling

      You get that in the buidling services industry too. So maybe it's more commonplace. If I talk to a potential new customer, and then wander off to their website for a quick looksee, it's often a huge struggle. If it's a small contractor, then it's easier. The bigger contractors are often hard to distinguish from the consulting engineers.

      However, if after 5 minutes of searching for information I still have no bloody idea what the company does - then it's probably a multi-disciplinary architectural/engineering practice specialising in people-centric spaces, environmental harmony and a co-operative, synergistic approach to design lifecycle management...

      The whalesong in my head usually drowns out the voices telling me to burn their building down for the good of humanity...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meretricious marketing mumbling

        "a multi-disciplinary architectural/engineering practice specialising in people-centric spaces, environmental harmony and a co-operative, synergistic approach to design lifecycle management..."

        Most jobbing builders do that, if you mean that they make suggestions as well as putting one brick on top of another, do various things to people's houses, and usually arrange that nothing falls off or catches fire until you've paid the bill.

  7. AbelSoul



    Obligatory Kris Akabusi Awooga link

    1. Alistair Dabbs


      In my defence, I wrote 'Arooga'. However, all klaxon sounds on El Reg are performed by Jonathan Ross.

    2. AbortRetryFail


      Although even Kris Akabusi acknowledges that he nicked it from Red Dwarf.

  8. Brian Miller

    Beware hokey religions and ancient mantras

    “Why do you say we should not innovate?”

    You'll never win when you try to challenge someone's hokey religion and their mantra of "innovate." They aren't solving problems, and they know it. They know that they are trying to suck down government money. They are going to give their stupid presentations until they run out of cash, and then find something else to wave around as their new banner.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Beware hokey religions and ancient mantras

      Isn't the normal definition of an "innovation" usually a solution in desperate search of a problem?

      As opposed to "invention", where it is the proper way around.

  9. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    rm is temporary...

    only if you can restore from backups...

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: rm is temporary...

      Either that or it's a very succinct criticism of the future of the Royal Mail after the recent sell-off.

      1. A K Stiles
        IT Angle

        Re: rm is temporary...

        I'd assumed it was something to do with Research Machines...

  10. Michael Hawkes

    Buzz, buzz, buzz

    Innovation and convergence are the new paradigm (in more ways than one).

  11. Simon Williams 2


    Had and Spaniard come to our company and talk about a system we look after, he was very interested in our"wiggly tusks". It took me 3 days to realise he was asking about weekly tasks and not making derogatory comments about the state of english dentistry or commenting on the illicit ivory trade.

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      Re: Spaniard

      My question would be, who are Had and Spaniard? Is this some UK auditing firm I'm unfamiliar with?

  12. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    The problem with TISP, is I tend to think of this instead: :)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      >> The problem with TISP

      Indeed, to me it means IEEE's Teacher In-Service Program:

  13. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    ...and cows...

    As the token Graphics Geek here, I have to toss in the story of a painting professor, originally from Colombia who once spent some time in class discussing his theory of art, which seemed to involve cows. Now, we had seen his work, which didn't SEEM to include pictures of bovines in them so, after a particularly obscure reference, one of the class finally bit the bullet and asked, "Excuse me, professor, but I'm not sure I'm getting it... Cows...?"

    "Yes, of course! All art revolves around the conflict between order and cows!"

    "Ah...! In English, I think the word you're using is pronounced 'chaos'."

    (BTW -- Great Niven reference: Stairway to Heaven/A Matter of Life and Death is one of my all-time favorite movies.)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: ...and cows...

      Ah, my wife has a story involving the mispronunciation of cows, a train journey and two Dutch students living in France to learn the language. I might save it up for another column, though... I was going to say 'if the subject matter is relevant' but that's never stopped me before.

  14. Maty

    Italian railways

    'That’s what you get in First Class with First Great Western ... I’d love to see the greasy state of a knackered e-reader hanging off its loosened hinges as it falls out of a broken armrest in the glorious near-future of Italian railways.'

    Um ... if near-past Italian railways are anything to go by, you'll do a lot better travelling in Italian steerage than British first class. I've always found Italian rail to be clean, comfortable and (when the union isn't on strike) punctual.

    While I've travelled on worse in Zimbabwe, the trains were at least clean. For grimy, slovenly trains with staff who appear to genuinely hate their customers, I've not yet found worse than dear old Blighty. So chin up old boy. You're pretty close to the bottom of the barrel already.

    1. Drakkenson

      Re: Italian railways

      @ Maty

      You should try Romanian trains sometime. I do believe there is nothing worse than those. Besides the filth and the hateful staff, they even refused to sell me a ticket at the station, directing me to effectively bribe the conductor... (it was a local train, but still...)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I believe that word was redefined in the early '90s by the Richest Man in the World to mean "swamping the market with half-assed copies of other people's work". Given that mobile apps represent the current state of innovation, I can't see that the definition has changed mush since then.

  16. ecofeco Silver badge

    I continue to amazed

    I continue to amazed at just how reliable and commoditized people think IT is.

    Until it fails.

    Then it becomes poetic justice.

    "Ass is permanent" indeed! :rofl:

    As for innovation, these days it usually means, as one poster here put it quite succinctly, "work on it and work in until it no longer works. There! See how busy and industrious and innovative I am!" And then yes, get all pissy when you call them on the bullcrap.

  17. ecofeco Silver badge

    Possibly relevant

    Possibly old as well.

    "Can we have 7 perpendicular red lines, with 3 drawn in green and 2 in invisible ink?"

  18. Gartal

    Just clean out your ears..

    I listened to a program on ABC Radio National some years ago in which they were speaking about pronunciation on said radio and who the arbiters were.

    There was an example given from the BEEB about a German named Dr. Fuchs and a Yorkshire radio announcer.

    The announcer introduced the good doctor and Dr. Fucks because in Yorkshire you couldn't call him Dr Fooks. Ha ha ha ha ha!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Italian trains

    Actually, the last Italian train I was on (the Roma-Firenze express, since you ask) was beautifully furnished, squeaky clean, and extremely comfortable - as well as moving very fast indeed. Far from dirt, breakages, etc., the main problem might be reading more than one page before arriving at (or shooting past, if the material is absorbing) your destination. British trains, of course, are quite a different matter.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ebooks on High-Speed Trains in Italy aren't near-future... they are present since 14 months.

    "a fantasy near-future in which high-speed-train passengers will be able to pull e-reader devices out from their armrests and download a book to read for the journey"

    It's already present, since over 14 months. Come to Italy and travel on Italo's high-speed trains. This is what experience 500,000 Italians every months.

    Here an article from December 2012:

    Welcome to the future

  21. Keef

    If only Virgin Trains could stop their Pendolino trains smelling of shit (design fault, but they bought them),

    What they do about the wankers using mobile phones in the 'quiet' zones on trains is beyond my ken.

    I'm off to contemplate untraceable murder on my next train journey...

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