Depardieu’s Chechnyan fling
French actor Gerard Depardieu has continued his dalliance with Russia by hitting the dance floor in the Republic of Chechnya.
Depardieu, who has been at the centre of a heated debate over tax exiles in France, in January received a Russian passport from President Vladimir Putin. On Saturday he officially became resident of Saransk, a city of 300,000 about 400 miles east of Moscow.
Depardieu flew to Chechnya’s capital Grozny and was treated to a lavish dinner by Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been ruling Chechnya with an iron fist since 2004. The two men joined each other for the region’s highlander dance, known as Lezginka.
Kremlin-backed Mr Kadyrov is a warlord’s son who has been accused of grave rights abuses. (AP)
Preserving Polish language
Polish language experts have launched a campaign to preserve the challenging system of its diacritical marks, saying the tails, dots and strokes are becoming obsolete under the pressure of IT and speed.
The drive, initiated by the Council of the Polish Language, marked Unesco International Mother Language Day. The campaign’s Polish name is complicated for a non-Polish keyboard: Je,zyk polski jest a,-e,. Computer and phone keyboards require users to punch additional keys for the Polish alphabet.
To save time, Poles skip the nuances, and sometimes need to guess the meaning of the message they have received.
Linguist Jerzy Bralczyk said the diacritical marks are a visual, defining feature of the Polish language, and they carry meaning and enrich the speech. (PA)
Bedtime emergency call
A 10-year-old Massachusetts boy called emergency services because he did not want to go to bed. Brockton police say the boy called 911 just after 8pm and told the dispatcher he was calling to report his mother because he did not want to go to bed.
According to the police log, an officer went to the boy’s home and explained to him when it was appropriate to call 911.
No charges were issued. (PA)
Zoo monorail stops mid-air
About 100 people were rescued without injury by firefighters after a monorail at the Dallas Zoo stopped operating.
A Dallas Fire Rescue spokesman said as many as five extension ladders at a time were used to remove the passengers. Local TV stations reported the train was between 15 and 20 feet off the ground when it stopped.
The zoo’s website says the monorail is the only one in the US that can “climb and turn, taking guests on a one-mile tour through bush, desert, forest, woodland, river and mountain environments”. (PA)
Say goodbye to Mr Chips
It’s Goodbye Mr Chips: the surname is one of tens of thousands that have disappeared over the last 100 years, according to new research in the UK.
Other surnames such as Clegg, William, Cohen, Kershaw, Sutcliffe, Butterworth and Greenwood are in danger of dying out, the study found. Family history website Ancestry.co.uk compared surnames from the 1901 censuses with those from modern records and found that many had disappeared, including Chips, Hatman and Rummage.
Many which have vanished were anglicised by their owners, including immigrants who changed their name to avoid complications with the spelling of their foreign names.
World War I also played a part in wiping out some names. (PA)