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robertogreco : 1926   3

Nick Kapur on Twitter: "Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/"
"Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/

It turned out even within the upper-class London accent that became the basis for BBC English, many words had competing pronunciations. 2/

Thus in 1926, the BBC's first managing director John Reith established an "Advisory Committee on Spoken English" to sort things out. 3/

The committee was chaired by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, and also included American essayist Logan Pearsall Smith, 4/

novelist Rose Macaulay, lexicographer (and 4th OED editor) C.T. Onions, art critic Kenneth Clark, journalist Alistair Cooke, 5/

ghost story writer Lady Cynthia Asquith, and evolutionary biologist and eugenicist Julian Huxley. 6/

The 20-person committee held fierce debates, and pronunciations now considered standard were often decided by just a few votes. 7/

Examples included deciding "garage" would rhyme with "carriage" rather than "barrage" and "canine" (the tooth) sounding like cay-nine. 8/

In 1935, there was a crisis over what word BBC radio should use for "users of a television apparatus" (whom we now call "viewers"). 9/

To solve this conundrum, a 10-member "Sub-Committee on Words" was set up, chaired by the American, Logan Pearsall Smith. 10/

The Sub-Committee came up with the following list of possible new words for the users of the television apparatus: 11/ [contains screenshot of text: "auralooker glancer, looker, looker-in, optavuist, optovisor, seer, sighter, teleseer, teleserver, televist, teleobservist, televor, viewer-in, visionnaire, visionist, visor, vizior, vizzior"]

The Sub-Committee ultimately chose none of these, settling on "televiewer," which was shortened by the main committee to just "viewer." 12/

Emboldened by this early "success," the Sub-Committee on Words began to run amuck, inventing new words willy-nilly out of whole cloth. 13/

In particular, Sub-Committee chair Logan Pearsall Smith wanted to beautify English and "purify" it of foreign influences. 14/

He also disliked words with too many syllables and preferred English plurals to foreign plurals (eg. hippopotamuses over hippopotami). 15/

Some of the new coinages were reasonable and have survived. For example, "airplane" replaced "aeroplane" and "roundabout" was invented 16/

to replace the then-common "gyratory circus." Similarly the word "servicemen" was invented to describe members of the armed forces, and 17/

BBC radio was instructed to stop saying "kunstforscher" and instead say "art researcher," which has since become "art historian." 18/

Other ideas were...less successful. E.g. Smith proposed the BBC call televisions "view-boxes," call traffic lights "stop-and-goes," and 19/

call brainwaves "mindfalls." Other members of the Sub-Committee also came up with bizarre new words. 20/

Edward Marsh devised "inflex" to replace "inferiority complex," and Rose Macaulay wanted "yulery" to replace "Christmas festivities." 21/

By June of 1936, things were getting out of hand, and the BBC's Director of Program Planning Lindsay Wellington urged: 22/ [contains screenshot of text: "[H]aving read the minutes of the Sub-Committee's meeting, at which all kinds of suggestions had been made with regard to new words, some sort of restraint should be placed upon the Sub-Committee. It was not the Corporation's policy to initiate proposals of this kind, which were rather the function of some outside body… [S]ome of the suggestions — e.g. 'halcyon' in place of 'anti-cyclone' or 'view-box' for television set — were so ludicrous that irreparable harm to the main Committee's prestige might be done should any of these suggestions be broadcast."]"

Finally in January 1937, Chairman of the Governors R.C. Norman shut down the Sub-Committee on Words for good, arguing that: 23/ [contains screenshot of text: "The Corporation has read with interest the minutes of the Sub-Committee appointed to make recommendations as to the framing of new words. It feels that it must define more closely the extent to which it can accept the advice of the Sub-Committee. Such advice will be sought by the Corporation when new words have to be found for its own purposes — as in the creation of vocabulary of television terms. The Sub-Committee, however, has recommended the introduction to the public of new words for general use (e.g. 'halcyon', 'stop-and-go'). This responsibility is one which the Corporation feels it cannot accept."]
bbc  english  history  language  words  classideas  sfsh  structuredwordinquiry  radio  television  johnreith  standardization  georgebernardshaw  loganpearsallsmith  ctonions  kennethclark  alistaircooke  cynthiaasquith  julianhuxley  pronunciation  tv  edwardmarsh  rosemacaulay  rxnorman  1937  1926  nickkapur  invention 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Twitter / tejucole: Where did that dog that used ...
"Where did that dog
that used to be here go?
I thought about him
once again tonight
before I went to bed.

–Shimaki Akahiko (d. 1926)"
poems  poetry  animals  dogs  relationships  1926  shimakiakahiko 
april 2014 by robertogreco
xkcd: 2014
"Some future reader, who may see the term, without knowing the history of it, may imagine that it had reference to some antiquated bridge of the immortal Poet, thrown across the silver Avon, to facilitate his escape after some marauding excursion in a neighbouring park; and in some Gentleman's Magazine of the next century, it is not impossible, but that future antiquaries may occupy page after page in discussing so interesting a matter. We think it right, therefore, to put it on record in the Oriental Herald that the 'Shakesperian Rope Bridges' are of much less classic origin; that Mr Colin Shakespear, who, besides his dignity as Postmaster, now signs himself 'Superintendent General of Shakesperian Rope Bridges', is a person of much less genius than the Bard of Avon. --The Oriental Herald, 1825"
predictions  2014  xkcd  history  1834  1863  1903  1905  1907  1908  1914  1923  1924  1926  1934  war  education  future  futurism  1925 
january 2014 by robertogreco

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