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Lets put the 'Bovine' back into Britain.


BOTTOM, SERIES 1, Episode 5:

Ritchie: That's what makes us so great you know? They don't call it "Great Luxembourg", do they? Mmm? Or "Great France"?

One thing that drives me up the wall is when someone announces it's time to "put the 'Great' back into Britain". When I was about twelve I remember being impressed by that rhetoric. When I was about fourteen I'd started to question it and by the time I was getting really stuck into puberty my patience had run out.

There's debate on why exactly it's called "Great Britain" but the most plausible version of events that I've encountered is to do with the union of Scotland, England and Wales. The Romans were the ones who named us, Britannia, and personified our inhabitants with a Goddess. King James VI, who took over in 1603, was already 'The King of Scotland' and he used to call himself 'The King of Great Britain' because he wanted to make it clear he was king of a larger area than his predecessors. I watched a great documentary a few years ago which said that early attempts to make this union possible are where we find the first official recorded use of the phrase. Around 200 years prior to James VI in 1474, in a contract drawn up proposing a marriage between the daughter of Edward IV of England and James, son of James III, of Scotland. The document in question described "this Nobill Isle, callit Gret Britanee."

Despite the historical debate surrounding this there's no serious academic who thinks our nation is called "Great" Britain because it's a place that everyone agrees is really, really, great. Even so, some of the dozy twunts who spout off about putting the "great" back into it actually do think that. As if the world's nations had a meeting and said, 'let's make it clear that Britain is the bestest country in the world shall we?'. By this logic Greater Manchester refers to the superior areas of the city. If you've ever been to Manchester you'll savour the irony.

1 comment:

www.20six.co.uk/lloydd said...

I'm no longer eating beef in order to reduce greenhouse gases. So, I'm actually advocating the removal of the "bovine" from Britain.

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