Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Place-name Correctness -- in Scotland

Readers of recent posts here will have noted how confusing the correctness of American Indian names is. Apparently it is incorrect to name sporting teams with Indian names but highly correct to replace "white" names for towns, rivers etc. with Indian names (but "Squaw Mountain" is a no-no, however).

Well, if it's any consolation, there are similar sensitivities in Britain. Would you believe that it's sometimes incorrect to refer to Scotland's largest city by name? To explain why, I have to give you a quick bit of history. Glasgow was in the 19th and early 20th century Scotland's great industrial city and, as such, it got a reputation as a grimy, ugly place full of poor factory workers. And things got worse after the second world war when Glasgow lost most of its industries (shipbuilding etc) to competition from Asia and elsewhere. So you now have generations of Glaswegians who have lived on welfare payments only. All of which it is now incorrect to mention.

So how did a recent article in the "The Times" about the high level of crime (particularly knife-crimes) in Glasgow refer to it? Here's what they said (excerpt):

"The attacks have been fuelled by a "booze and blades" culture in the west of Scotland which has claimed more than 160 lives over the past five years. Since January there have been 13 murders, 145 attempted murders and 1,100 serious assaults involving knives in the west of Scotland. The problem is made worse by sectarian violence, with hospitals reporting higher admissions following Old Firm [football] matches".


So the whole of the "West of Scotland" got the blame for the misdeeds of the Glaswegians!

Note: I am not dissing the Glaswegians or the Scots generally in what I say above. I speak as someone who has a great affection for Scotland and some background in studying the Scots.