Editor’s note. Some Madazine readers will know that we don’t usually deal with highly topical matters. However, exceptions are made on occasion and the item below is one of them. Our mail today included a letter which intrigued all of us here, and I hope it will be of general interest. One reason for publishing it is that the writer is of the same vintage as yours truly, so I’m showing oldster solidarity. Here we go:
To the editor of Madazine.
It occurs to me that your readers may be interested to learn that I have started a new career – in my eightieth year at that. Allow me to explain. There has been much talk of late concerning a possible British exit (Brexit) from the European Union. Having decided to specialise in this subject, I am gathering as much socioeconomic data as possible, in order to become the world’s first, perhaps only, brexitologist. Admittedly this may be a short-lived occupation, possibly as brief as four months, but I have already made a dramatic discovery, as follows:
According to rules devised by an anonymous group of officials, only six of the EU’s twenty-eight countries will be able to depart in the way Britain is considering. The reason is that any land wishing to pull out needs to coin a snappy word for its intended action. This must be limited to two syllables, which are to include ‘exit’ plus the first two letters, in English, of the country’s name. The ‘exit’ part must be enunciated distinctly, so where the second letter of the name is ‘e’, this cannot be counted as part of ‘exit’, meaning that Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark are disqualified. For example, Belgium would be ‘Be-exit’ which is three syllables.
Under the regulations described above, the only members allowed to leave the Union will be Britain (Brexit), Croatia (Crexit), France (Frexit), Greece (Grexit) Spain (Spexit) and Sweden (Swexit). There can be no question of a Slexit, as this could apply to either Slovakia or Slovenia, so both are barred on the ground that there is already more than enough confusion in Brussels.
The Czech Republic is a special case. It cannot qualify by starting its name with ‘The’, as no country is permitted to use the definite article in its name for the purpose of this exercise. However, the Czechs might be accepted as potential departees by opting for the ‘Cz’ start. This could be controversial because it may cause argument about pronunciation. On seeing it at the beginning of ‘Czexit’, most Anglophones would regard it as ‘Cexit’, with an initial ‘s’ sound, thus failing to identify clearly the country concerned. A case – albeit a weak one – has been made for ‘Chexit’, with an initial ‘Ch’, as in chug, in conformity with English articulation. This has so far proved troublesome because (a) it does not use the correct two opening letters, as widely recognised and (b) even the ‘Ch’ might be interpreted by some people as having a ‘k’ sound, as in Charisma.
The Czech problem is being discussed by the European Commission but a directive on it will not be produced for at least two years. It must take its place behind the knotty questions of cuboid tomatoes (for optimum packing), harmonisation of the shapes and sizes of carrots and – most contentious of all – the proposed straightening, on health and safety grounds, of all boomerangs sold in the EU. With respect to the last point, advice is to be sought from a specialist. Rumour has it that the job might go to a certain dinkum Aussie who is an expert on the ancient weapon. He is a retired seafarer, known to his friends as The Admiral. This grizzled tar is reputedly the world’s most decorated naval man, so bemedalled that when in full dress uniform he lists to port. According to a usually reliable source, he has indicated that he will be available as soon as he has replaced the crumbling corks on his bush hat.
Undoubtedly my researches will unearth other important points, but I submit that the above will do for a start. Incidentally, it has not escaped my notice that in international parlance, our country is more correctly defined as the UK, which includes Northern Ireland. For the purpose of the study described above, that point will be ignored.
I shall keep you informed of further developments.
Founder and Principal, Institute of Brexitology
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