Raging Against the World

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On your marks…

People from different countries don’t speak the same language. Every country has a second language, a common language. Historically the language is usually French, but times the rise of the internet has caused a modern phenomenon. There has been a shift, a seismic shift. Ignore the people who’ll tell you Chinese languages are the most common, that’s only in China and the smaller Asiatic countries nearby. Nowadays the most spoken language worldwide is English. However, the British cannot pat themselves on the back about the world finally coming to its senses, haha, oh no.

Because it is not English, but American English. Where the American foreign policy has failed, they have won the legacy of language. It is now common, no matter how saddening it is, for the young of Britain to utter such limited epithets of the American tongue as “awesome!” and “that sucks”. I have even heard people in their 30s “give props”. Oh dear. It’s here to stay I fear, and no amount of correction from pedants like me will stop the inaccuracies and unpoetic nature of the American language in the avalanche.

But where this trend really annoys is internet ratings. The British have always marked out of 10. The Americans, it seems, always mark out of 5. Now if you really want a limited structure of expressing your approval then the 5-star system is right for you. The British 7/10 or 3/10 is far more flexible. You can say “I really really like this” by giving 9/10, thus giving you wiggle room should anything better come along at a later date. This, you don’t get with 5/5. Unless you cheat.

People cheat a lot on the 5-star system and this is why it’s not workable for me. They’ll vote 4½ stars without any sense of irony. I heard someone reviewing a television story today as 2½ out of 5. It’s meaningless. 5/10 would be a far simpler mark, which even to those who aren’t good with maths (that’s right, Maths, not “math”) can see is clearly more simple.

So Blockbuster, Youtube and a myriad of other sites, you’re not for me. It is a sort of cultural pollution and I will obstinately continue to rank out of 10. And another thing: why not allow people to vote 0/10? The minimum 1 star is just silly.

EDIT: The podcast was Cadmium 2, otherwise a very good podcast. Also this week I heard another podcast (The Whovian Quest) give 8½ out of TEN! Madness.

One response to “On your marks…

  1. solar penguin Monday 26th April, 2010 at 8.58 pm

    Just discovered this post, which I must’ve missed the first time round.

    Anyway, I don’t think the rise of marks out of 5 is recent or connected to Americans on the internet.

    Saturday Superstore back in the 1980s had a section where guests rated pop videos in marks out of 5. IIRC in one episode Fred Harris tried to rate a video as pi/5, only to be told that wasn’t allowed!

    (Being a miserable git myself, I think any ratings system should also allow negative numbers for stuff you really hate! Sadly that doesn’t seem to have caught on.)

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