This week's UK news: 21 December 2012
21 December 2012

Manchester, the city where you can speak almost any language

Academics have found out that people living in Manchester speak at least 153 languages.
It is probably the European city where the most different languages are spoken, and probably comes second in the world only to New York. This is even more surprising because Manchester is not a big city: only 500,000 people live there, compared with 8 million in London.

Two thirds of schoolchildren in Manchester speak more than one language, and rare languages spoken in the city include Chitrali from northern Pakistan and Uyghur from north-western China.

Professor Yaron Matras, who is leading the research project at the University of Manchester, said that immigration and international students coming to the city meant that the number of languages spoken there was likely to grow further.

The year's final sporting event

Every December for more than 50 years, the UK's public service broadcaster has run a competition to find the "sports personality" of the year, with people voting for their favourite athlete from a shortlist.

Last year the shortlist contained no women. This year, after the Olympics and Paralympics, it was full of people who would win the prize in any normal year.
The outright winner was cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour de France before getting an Olympic gold medal just over a week later. In second and third place were heptathlete Jessica Ennis and tennis player Andy Murray.

One surprise was that the Duchess of Cambridge presented the prizes. She had been suffering from such bad pregnancy sickness that she was in hospital the week before.

It's Christmas - and awful jumpers are back in fashion

Years ago, people in the UK expected to get terrible jumpers for Christmas presents. We call them "Christmas jumpers." They are knitted, and either have a picture on the front or a brightly coloured pattern. The picture might be something to do with Christmas, like a snowflake, a Christmas tree, or a reindeer.

But something odd has happened. Christmas jumpers have become fashionable. Sales started to rise last year. This year, the men's shop Topman says sales are up 54 per cent on 2011.

There may be several reasons for this. One is the popularity of a detective programme from Denmark, where the lead character was famous for her chunky jumpers. Another was that the public service broadcaster dressed many of its TV presenters in the jumpers for an advert last year.

TV cooks' recipes less healthy than ready meals

It may be healthier to heat up a ready meal in the microwave for dinner than follow a recipe from a best-selling cookbook, say researchers.

They compared dishes from well-known cookbooks with ready meals bought from supermarkets. They found that the recipes from the TV cooks were higher in calories, protein and fat, and had less fibre than the ready meals.


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