Saturday, July 25, 2009


Son of Man

Dominating the bunch sprints at this year's Tour de France - as at last year's - is Manxman Mark Cavendish, generally described in the local media as britannique.

The Isle of Man is in neither the United Kingdom nor the European Union. Mr Cavendish is therefore, unless other conditions are satisfied, not entitled to the freedom of movement enjoyed by EU citizens. He's moving around France freely enough of course.

Under Article 2 of Protocol 3 to the United Kingdom's Treaty of Accession:

The rights enjoyed by Channel Islanders or Manxmen in the United Kingdom shall not be affected by the Act of Accession. However, such persons shall not benefit from the Community provisions relating to the free movement of persons and services.

A very high proportion (well over half?) of Manx surnames have the same initial consonant as Cavendish, which may be realized as either C, K or Q. This is usually the ghost of the Gaelic prefix mac (son of). Examples include

This mirrors a presumably unrelated development across the P-Celtic/Q-Celtic divide in Welsh, where the word corresponding to Gaelic mac was, as might be expected, map. This was first reduced to ap, evident in surnames such as Uprichard and Upjohn, and ultimately, as in Manx, to the final consonant only (in the Anglicized form at least). Hence many Welsh surnames beginning with p or b (before a vowel), including

None of this concerns Cavendish however which appears to be a name of English origin and of locational rather than patronymic type:

This unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational, originating in the place called Cavendish in Suffolk. The placename is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Kavandisc", and by 1242 as "Cavenedis

A Manx origin, though perhaps less plausible, also has some support:

Manx surnames: Corjeag.This is a Manx surname which disappeared from the Isle of Man some years ago. Maybe it’s found somewhere else on earth now. ‘Corjeag’ developed from ‘Mac Quartag’ - a Gaelic-Norse name meaning ‘Son of the dark-eyed man’. ‘Corjeag’ sounds like the Manx for ‘Giving dish’, so the surname ‘Corjeag’ was sometimes translated into ‘Cavendish’ - believe it or not! (There are five Cavendishes in the present Isle of Man phonebook.)

The cyclist of that name, who is perhaps of too young a generation ever to be found in a phonebook, was involved in controversy last week for allegedly disparaging his hosts. He was widely reported (here for example) as having referred to them as "fucking Frenchies", the anonymous witness being a French member of the peloton.

The second of those F-words appears to be a pseudo-English term, much used in French but rarely if ever in Britain as far as I can tell. The British have a different F-word for the French which, in my experience, they are apt to use at every opportunity.

The forensic linguistic evidence must therefore be that Cavendish could not have uttered the words complained of.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Wagner scores

From the Guardian, reporting on the European under-21 championship final
German teams do not throw away 2–0 leads and so it proved. Although England chiselled out a trio of openings, their opponents twisted the knife further on the counter with late goals from the centre-forward Sandro Wagner who, for much of the evening, had looked to lack the composure of his namesake.
That namesake being Wagner, Richard - the great composer with the great composure?!

A joke should not be assumed. England's sports writers are not given to levity when their team has just been whopped by the dread Germans, however inured to it they may have become.

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