101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 60: Words


We are dismayed quarterly, when the Oxford English Dictionary appears to show no restraint in adding the latest fad neologisms, such as “selfie” (not to be confused with any photo of a person), “hashtag” (not to be confused with the hash symbol), and “flexitarian” (not to be confused with a word you can say without sounding like an idiot). Although it did take them until this year to add Blu-Tack as both a noun and a verb. I Blu-Tack, you Blu-Tack, he Blu-Tacks, she Blu-Tacks… You never see white tack any more do you?

Well all these ‘orrible abbreviations, port-manteaux, and proprietary eponyms are kind of our fault, for which we are truly sorry aka sozzlebobbles (probably). We may not like them, but words are all [we] have, as those Bee Gees might have said.

Back in the early 18th Century, a fella named Thomas Warren opened a bookshop on the High Street. He also decided to publish Birmingham’s first weekly newspaper, the Birmingham Journal. In response to his Brummie colleagues’ spelling and grammar fails, one of the contributing journos, pedant Samuel Johnson, went on to write one of the first ever dictionaries of the English language, called A Dictionary of the English Language (rather pedantically). It was “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship” and “among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language”.

Sadly, it hasn’t improved the standards of our local press.

Pre-order 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World: the Book now

Pre-order 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World: the Book now

Author: Julia Gilbert

Part-time misanthrope; human 1st, female 2nd. Multifaceted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.