By Schoeffer.; J H West Sheane; A C Madan
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Additional resources for A grammar of the Bemba language as spoken in northeast Rhodesia
No worries. Old Blighty or Blighty is an affectionate way of referring to Britain, still very common among expatriates. It’s also a mildly disparaging way by which certain former colonials sometimes refer to the UK: That’s the conclusion of Her Majesty’s government, which acknowledged yesterday that letting pubs stay open past the traditional 11 pm closing has failed to curb old Blighty’s notorious binge-drinking problem. Boston Herald, 5 March 2008. It’s a relic of British India: Bilayut, Billait.
The point is just as relevant to etymology and it is a constant delight not only to investigate the stories behind words and phrases and put them within their social and cultural milieu, but also – as a person who has been intrigued with and fascinated by English since a child – to be able at times to provide fresh insight into the way the language has evolved. ’ It’s an odd story. Unlike an American author of a previous generation, keen to trumpet his credentials as a man of the people with wide experience of life, I cannot claim to have been a cowboy, roustabout, short-order cook, truck driver or gravedigger.
The New York Times, 11 April 1932. There’s little doubt from this early evidence that aviators were thinking that escaping from an aircraft in danger was like bailing water out of a boat, the immediate image being that of throwing the water over the side. Eric Partridge, in A Dictionary of Forces’ Slang, published in 1948, gave this as the origin. However, seriously muddying the waters, he spelled it bale. The Oxford English Dictionary has changed its view on the definitive form. In its Second Edition of 1989 it argued it should be bale out, suggesting people may have been influenced in spelling it that way by the image of an escaping airman being like a bale or bundle thrown through the aircraft door.