Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Language / Jellyfish

News that the British Government is considering pardons for soldiers executed for cowardice and other offences during the First World War has led to calls for other military people of the past to be pardoned as well. One such is Admiral Byng who was shot for his alleged failure to relieve the garrison in Menorca in the mid-eighteenth century. This I mention by way of introducing the possible origin of an expression used widely in Menorca and also Mallorca.

“Uep”, pronounced ‘wep’, is a term of greeting akin to “all-right?” in English. As suggested to me by old friends from university days, one a resident of Barcelona, the other something of a polyglot, ‘uep’ might have been derived from the northern-English “hey-up”. It’s a possibility, and one I once put to the chap who is head of the pre-print section at my printers, and a man of some scholarly background, who thought that it could well be the case.

Given that much of the English language is, in essence, nicked from others, it’s nice to think that the people of the Balearics might have assimilated something from our own language, even if it is only a form of slang. Though of course this does raise the question as to the derivation of ‘hey-up’.

Jellyfish alert: Beaches in Calvia have now been affected, e.g. at Portals Vells, close to Magaluf and around the promontory (Cap de Cala Figuera) from Santa Ponsa. Most are the fried-egg variety (in appearance that is). Seemingly their emergence means that the mauve ones are on the way out, which is a bit of god news as they are the more painful chappies, and indeed it was a “mauve stinger” that was the “throbbing gristle” on Playa de Muro beach I alluded to on 23 July. The authorities are denying that there is a “plague” as in fact there are fewer jellyish than in previous years.

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