Wednesday, 28 November 2012

I'll Askham

Decades ago when visiting a university friend in York, some other chums and I used to chuckle over local village names. "Which way now?" "Askham Bryan!" "No, you Askham Richard!" Silly fellows! But I still get innocent amusement from such place names. Does anyone else?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Turnham Green, please / Can you tell me the best way to...

This is related to the previous place name jokes and was prompted by living near Turnham Green tube, west London. In those far off days you would often ask for a ticket by just stating your destination at the ticket office. "Turnham Green, please" never seemed to raise other eyebrows but tickled my funny bone every time.

Similarly, over the years Clydesdale and I have got amusement by suggesting variations on the request: "Excuse me, can you tell me the best way to Beckenham?" Frettenham and Pulham (Norfolk) were also sniggerworthy here. Is it just us? OK, she is a Barking woman and her mother later moved a stop beyond so I, indeed we, have always been ready for a cheap laugh on these lines.

Any other giggleworthy names out there?


Responding to a Twitter hashtag I've been thinking of some #placenamesongs. It's a sort of "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" running joke. The funniest ones are often where a famous American song is given a very British place name eg "24 Hours from Tulsa" becomes "24 Hours From Tulse Hill" and so on. I don't think I invented that one but it's hard to tell as some are trad. Some others that occurred to me were:
The Winchelsea Lineman
Tijuana Dance? / Tijuana Know A Secret?
Wenham 64 (Great & Little Wenham, Suffolk, since you ask)
Woking Back To Happiness
Tell Me Wye / Hay Bulldog (twinned)
Diss Is My Song
and so on ad (imminent) nauseam.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Manley signs

Drove past a sign for Wright Manley something. Hoped it was a fitness centre but not sure.

Names - what's in 'em, anyway?

Someone just tweeted that he was considering voting for a candidate for Police Commissioner because his name was Marshall Lawe. Better than Seymour Grimes, perhaps?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Boardcasting 1957-style bought back

"The Hour" is back on BBC2 with Series 2, set in 1957. Not only do BBC people say "bought" for "brought" and "nucular" (Ms Garai)  well before George W but talk about their "input" and everyone wanting "a piece of you". Is this sloppy writing or a clever move to please the US market? Will we hear the characters talk of the British, or maybe the Bitish, Boardcasting Corporation in the next episode?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

90 Years of BBC B(r)oadcasting

For the past few years we've noticed the pronunciation "boardcast" and "boardcasting", and possibly a touch of  "bwoardcasting". Today on the 90th anniversary of BBC radio I thought I noticed it on Radio 4 News. Have other people observed this? Is the r sound particularly sensitive in this word or is it part of a trend? I haven't really heard it with, for example, the words "broad" or "bread", or with names like Stuart / Chris Broad, the cricketers.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Some people I know have expressed mild irritation with the use of "So" as the start of a response in interviews. This is a trend that has been recorded online - as with many language usages, there are more notices/comments about AmE than BrE. It has even been called "the ubiquitous 'So'". So I was interested to read a comment on a recommended blog -
- which pointed out (just used those dashes, I realise, to avoid commas, which can be controversial) that it had been used by Seamus Heaney in his translation of Beowulf. This was more with the sense of Old English "Hwaet!", though, than with the traditional BrE use of suggesting a logical next step. It is more like introducing a new topic, or even chapter, especially in Irish English usage, it seems. So, next time you hear a politician on the Today programme answer with "So...", tell yourself that it doesn't have to be logical: it could just be story-telling.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Nominative Determinism

"The Guardian" had a thread of correspondence and comments about this - is it also called "nominal determinism"? - possibly prompted by discussion of Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice.

If your name is, for example, Teresa Green are you more likely than most to work in forestry, perhaps because your parents were arboriculturalists? Or work in a garden centre if your name is Anita Lawn? To work for the Meat Marketing Board if you are Mr Lamb, or London Zoo if you are a Ms Lyons?

After listening to Gardeners' Question Time with its Flowerdews and Swithinbanks, I heard that the head of the Horticultural Trades Association was Mr Briercliffe. By the by, the awful ash virus was first spotted in the UK at Ashwellthorpe - but that's another topic, place names.