defenestrating old vocabulary


There has been all this hoopla about blog being named the word of 2004. But the word blog is not nearly as exciting as the 2004 entry on the list A Word a Year: 1904-2004 on The word on this list was definitely one that I hadn't heard before, and warranted a little more research. So, here is a little more on the alternate 2004 word of the year, chav.

In my limited search for info on chav I found a rather amsuing and informative article by Michael Quinion of World Wide Words. Quinion states:

The press in Britain has recently been having fun mocking a group for which pejorative descriptions have been created such as “non-educated delinquents” and “the burgeoning peasant underclass”. The subjects of these derogatory descriptions are said to be set apart by ignorance, fecklessness, mindless violence and bad taste.

He goes on to detail the look of chav, or more specifically the chav style of dress;

a love of flashy gold jewellery (hooped earrings, thick neck chains, sovereign rings and heavy bangles, which all may be lumped together under the term bling-bling); the wearing of white trainers (in what is called “prison white”, so clean that they look new); clothes in fashionable brands with very prominent logos; and baseball caps, frequently in Burberry check, a favourite style. The women, the Daily Mail wrote recently in a characteristic burst of maidenly distaste, “pull their shoddily dyed hair back in that ultra-tight bun known as a ‘council-house facelift’, wear skirts too short for their mottled blue thighs, and expose too much of their distressingly flabby midriffs”.

Chav is quite a fascinating term, much more exciting to me than blog or other 2004 list toppers like
incumbent, electoral, insurgent, hurricane, cicada, peloton, partisan, sovereignty, & defenestration (although defenestration has always been a favourite of mine). gives some rather interesting definitions of chav submitted by seemingly concerned citizens who want to increase awareness of chav. Qunion's article provides a less violent and angry perspective on the origins of chav, listing the wide variety of local names given to the type, like neds, scallies, kev, janners, smicks, spides, moakes, steeks, bazzas, scuffheads, stigs, skangers, yarcos, and kappa slappers. As Quinion reports, the social implications of this term have become a concern in some liberal circles as, "This upsurge of popular distaste towards one group may be evidence for a cultural shift back towards a class-ridden British society."

Oh, the world of words.