Bronte, Sterope, Arges

‘Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick’ – proverb


From Hesiod’s Theogony 139-141:
“Then he made from his great heart, Bronte Sterope and violent-surging Arges, they who would give Zeus his thunder and would make his lightning bolts”

— from the Italian of: Giulio Guidorizzi,
Kosmos – L’universo dei Greci: L’età arcaica (2016)
[EinaudiScuola, 2016], p 280. ISBN 9788828617907
Kosmos: The World of the Greeks I – The Archaic Age
“the Cyclops were well-named, because they had only one round eye in their forehead”

un solo occhio rotondo avevano nella fronte

Volcanoes. Obviously.

The Titanomachy would have been a sight to see (from a long way away).
Zeus sky-high (and new-born fully-formed Athena with her Aegis) and a cloud of winter slowly approaching, like a wolf eating the sun. Not to mention the earthshaking coming from the sea (Poseidon). Memories of Mount Doom.
Thera is the most likely candidate, in the circumstances.



A recent night-time photo of Mt Agung erupting brought this musing on.

And in ancient times, the groaning sounds coming from underground would have fed into other thoughts, too: the place where Zeus imprisoned his enemies for eternity.

An Ornament of One

When is a borderline on the other side?

At this time of year (late spring, early summer), there are some garden cypresses visible along the street in peoples’ front-yards which produce juicy cones of such an attractive flavour to birds of the parrot kind (such as corellas, and sulphur-crested cockatoos) that flocks of them divert especially to have an early-morning breakfast feast.

The trees are dark green and and shaped like a picture-drawing Christmas-tree, and a flock of snowy-white birds perched on the sides of the tree look like ornaments.

I hereby propose a new collective noun: `an ornament of corellas’, or `an ornament of cockatoos’.

Even one perching cockatoo gives that effect.

Which raises the idea: can one bird be a flock?

Certainly there is an implication. Cockatoos and corellas and rainbow lorikeets and so on are gregarious and move about in family groups and larger, chattering and gossiping all the while, so the presence of one necessarily implies the presence of others somewhere nearby (within coo-ee, in fact, since they keep in touch by sound, and, for the larger birds like the cockatoos, that sound carries a long way).

A Flock of One

A membership of one constitutes the category (mathematicians would go one step further with their null set: a membership of none constitutes the category).

One person doing manual work makes it a factory: Griffith v Ferrier 1952 SC(J) 56.

The question then moves to: what is manual work?


Language is vague, by its nature.

“what really is a chair”

— Janny Leung,
“On the edge of reason: Law at the borderline”,
in Marco Wan (ed),
Reading the Legal Case: Cross-Currents between Law and the Humanities, (2012)
[Routledge, 2012], pp 128-141, p 138.
ISBN 9780415673549

Or red, or bilingual, or a machine, or a chicken-coop?

(This last is in reference to “whether a chicken-coop may be considered a vehicle” — Leung, p 128. A hen-house, on iron bogies, was being towed along a road by a tractor: for the purposes of the relevant motor vehicle statute (whose purpose was to help with road maintenance), the hen-house was deemed to be a vehicle.)

“The nature of language also presents its own challenges. A V Crabbe wrote in Understanding Statutes, Cavendish Publishing Ltd, London, 1994, p 8:

… it is … the very nature of language that presents the greatest problem to successful communication. Language is considered

‘perhaps the greatest human invention’,


yet it is a most imperfect instrument for the expression of human thought. It has tremendous potential for vagueness, ambiguity, nonsense, imprecision, inaccuracy … [footnotes omitted]

— Kath Hall and Claire Macken,
Legislation and Statutory Interpretation, 3rd edition, (2012)
[LexisNexis Butterworths, 2012], [3.34] (p 66).
ISBN 9780409330656

In Haygarth v J & F Stone Lighting & Radio Ltd, [1968] AC 157, the question was: what is manual labour, and how is that different to the work that `ordinary brain workers’ do? More specifically, Was a radio and television repairman working in a back room in a television sales shop in Upper Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, in May 1964, when a factory inspector visited, doing manual labour? If yes, then that place is a factory, and occupational health and safety applies, such as the provision of a first-aid box or cupboard.

Here we are only concerned with the words “employed in manual labour.” The word ” employed ” is clear. The words ” employed in ” denote employed to do. The word ” manual ” denotes something done with the hands. (As long ago as in 1884 Bowen L.J. said in Morgan v. London General Omnibus Co. (1884) 13 QBD 832, 834 (CA) that manual labour could only mean ” labour performed by hand.”) In one sense every person is employed in manual labour who is employed to do work with his hands. But nearly everyone who is employed must do some work with his hands. How then is a decision to be made as to whether an employed person is or is not employed in manual labour?

Per Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, at 175

Although the case ‘raises no question of general importance’ (Lord Reid, at 174), in the sense of legal principle, the various courts and judges held different opinions about where the dividing line (never hard and fast) should be drawn about what constitutes manual labour.

Prior cases looked to for guidance dealt with:

  • dispensing pharmaceuticals at a chemists’
  • being a tugboat captain
  •  doing lithography and engraving
  •  modellers moulding clay into ornaments and other things using photographs supplied by the employer
  •  being a grocer’s assistant
  •  making bouquets in a florist’s shop
  •  making decorative hampers from an assortment of bonbons and sweetmeats
  •  being a bus conductor
  •  being a tram driver

Terms like ‘borderline’ and ‘very borderline’ were used.

Where would you draw the line?

Or would it be more of a fuzzy smudge, like an artist’s thumb rubbing of a charcoal mark on the canvas?

Many Words

Snow and Ice

In ‘the many words for “snow”’ tradition, the Italian aesthetic for elegant harmonisation across a creative work finds a challenge in translating the monotony of English conversations as reported in novels: all the many ‘ “…,” he said.’s with the word ‘said’ being said many times.

The same note, over and over, if it were a song.

“[‘ask’ and ‘say’] the repetition of which does not in fact weigh down an English text but is a millstone in Italian”  —  Andrea Binelli, Lingua, semiologia e traduzione dall’inglese, 3rd edition, (2013) [Tangram Edizioni Scientifiche, 2013] (Language, Semiotics and Translating from English), pp 139-140. ISBN 9788864580913

To keep the Italian readable, mirroring the English method won’t work well. Instead, the translator needs to resort to an alternative technique.

“For example, “say”, which occurs 15 times in the same text, can be translated with: dire, aggiungere, fare, uscirsene, affermare, rispondere, replicare, ribattere, chiedere, domandare, annunciare, enunciare, esternare, precisare, spiegare, asserire, riferire, proferire, raccontare, ammonire, suggerire, parlare, considerare, esclamare, e altri ancora.”

—  (Binelli, p 140)

(“said, added, went, ejaculated, came out with, affirmed, responded, replied, returned, asked, questioned, announced, pronounced, enunciated, specified, explained, asserted, referred to, proffered, recounted, admonished, suggested, spoke, considered, exclaimed, and others as well.”)

Note that the nuances of the English renderings of the Italian verbs of speaking, as presented in the translation, are different to the Italian ones.

It is rather like the (pro)position that describing Melville’s language in Moby Dick as sibylline and naturalistic (“sibillino e al contempo naturalista” —  Binelli, p 186) should be Englished as  “enigmatic and at the same time everyday”. No-one uses ‘sibylline’ in an everyday English conversation. ‘Riddling’ and ‘ambiguous’, maybe, and even then unlikely outside a lecture room (or poem, perhaps). And certainly not ‘Delphic’, which goes off in another direction.


Similarly, tradition-wise in the word-fondness sphere, Martian anthropologists might say* (*presuming they speak (to borrow from Eco)) the same thing about the many-worded Earthlings and their appreciation of the nuances of H2O:

water, river, rill, creek, tributary, rapids, lake, pool, pond, weir, canal, sea, seaspray, ocean, wave, roller, tide, cloud, rain, raindrop, sleet, snow, snowflake, snow flurry, hail, hailstone, ice, iceberg, glacier, steam, mist, fog, dew, (aquifer), spring, fountain, waterfall, white horse, whale road, bore, bore water, tea, soup, broth, cordial, wine, juice, (liquid), drink, (thirst), …


What it is(n’t)

Additionally, the trial judge gave a cautionary instruction to the jury to alleviate any problems which may have been created by interpreter: #2 … “…Obviously, an Interpreter is not a participant in the trial. An Interpreter really only acts as a transmission belt or telephone. In one ear should come in English and out comes Spanish, …”

United States v Cesar Rosario Anguloa, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (20 Jun 1979), 598 F.2d 1182, at [18: n5].

As cited in:

“In 1979 in United States v. AnguloaI [i.e., US v Anguloa 598 F2d 1182 No. 78-1183 (1979)], the Court instructed the jury following the replacement of an incompetent interpreter that ‘[a]n Interpreter really only acts as a transmission belt or telephone’; a former Australian Supreme Court judge, in turn, stated that ‘[t]he interpreter should look upon himself rather as an electric transformer, whatever is fed into him is to be fed out again, duly transformed’ (Wells 1991, in Hale and Gibbons 1999: 207 [WAN Wells, An Introduction to the Law of Evidence (S Australia; A B Caudell, 1991); S Hale and J Gibbons, “Varying realities: patterned changes in the interpreter’s representation of courtroom and external realities”, Applied Lingistics, (1999) 20(2): 203-20.]).”

— Krzysztof Kredens and Ruth Morris, “Interpreting outside the courtroom: A shattered mirror?’ Interpreting in legal contexts outside the courtroom”, in Malcolm Coulthard and Alison Johnson (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics, (2010) [Routledge, 2013], pp 455-469, p 468.

  • See also: (as indexed on AustLII:) Hale, Sandra — “The Challenges of Court Interpreting: Intracacies [read: Intricacies], Responsibilities and Ramifications” [2007] AltLawJl 30; (2007) 32(4) Alternative Law Journal 198, where the Australian judicial officer is described as “an Australian judge” (note 4).