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If you’re going to be a pendant then actually be a pendant

Britain is England and Wales. Great Britain is Britain plus Scotland.

Therefore talking about Britain is not just ignoring NI, it’s ignoring Scotland as well.

23 thoughts on “If you’re going to be a pendant then actually be a pendant”

  1. Britain is England and Wales

    First I’ve heard of it, Tim. Wasn’t Scotland “North Britain” at one point?

    I do prefer “Britain” to “The Yookay” tbf. The former sounds classy, like Nigel Farage’s splendid coat, or a Page 3 model simpering about how she loves world peace and nude beaches.

  2. Got to admit Steve, I normally think of Britain as that big island off the coast, made up of England, Scotland and Wales; with Northern Ireland sort of added on. The Southern Irish are those wicked Papist rebels who have rightfully been booted out.

    But I usually use the term ‘UK’ because it’s easier to type.

  3. “Britain is England and Wales”

    Really? Never heard that before. England and Wales are, or were, the Kingdom of England* from 1535 until Union with Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.

    Poor Pedantry Tim

  4. I was puzzled at first but then “Britain” is in the Roman sense. Beyond the Wall were all those people painted blue. *
    North Britain was the 18th Cent term. I always thought it came about to diffentiate between the loyal ( and Protestant) lowlanders and the Jacobite ( and Papist) Highlanders.

    Apart from Senna Podd of course “Ooh I haven’t had a chance to put on a touch of woad this morning.”

  5. The front of my blue, pukka, none of that EU rubbish, passport says “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.
    So, Great Britain meaning England, Wales and Scotland being brilliant and triff (as they obviously are) or bog standard Britain plus something else?

  6. Bill Kruse says:
    January 4 2023 at 12:45 pm
    Classrooms are dangerous environments these days. Will Sunak be seeing to it that every class is conducted in an atmosphere kept Covid-free by sound ventilation and appropriate HEPA filters?

    Richard Murphy says:
    January 4 2023 at 1:12 pm
    I wish he would


  7. Addolff said:
    “So, Great Britain meaning England, Wales and Scotland being brilliant and triff (as they obviously are) or bog standard Britain plus something else?”

    I thought it was “Great Britain” to distinguish it from “Lesser Britain”, i.e. Brittany.

  8. My favourite athlete of 2022 is Ciara Mageean
    -1500m silver for Ireland at the Europeans
    -1500m silver for Northern Ireland at the Commonwealths

    Sensible people the Irish – never heard any one object to use of Ireland, and they only put ‘Republic Of’ on the front when the distinction is needed.

    I wonder if Spud is really and properly Irish though, as I feel he would get pedantic when it wasn’t needed on this – we should send Lady Hussey to ask him.

  9. The government’s style guide actually treats Britain as an alternative to the UK (although a less preferred one); it is only Great Britain that they treat as a multi-country part of the UK.

    “Use UK and United Kingdom in preference to Britain and British (UK business, UK foreign policy, ambassador and high commissioner). But British embassy, not UK embassy.”

    But either way, Murphy is still wrong.

  10. The earliest recorded mention of these islands is in the writings of the Greek traveller Pythias in the 4th Century BC (although strictly speaking we only know of them second-hand). All that stuff about how “British Isles“ is nasty and colonialist? Yeah, bollocks. They’ve been called that for over 2300 years. He described them as having three corners – Kantion (Kent), Belerion (Cornwall), and Orkas (Orkney) – and being subject to frosts. So much for climate change.

    “North Britain was the 18th Cent term.”

    Which lasted until the early 20th Century. In fact, you can put a date on it: the postal reforms of… 1921, was it? My father distinctly remembered his granny moaning about the local postmistress telling her she had to write “Scotland” as her address rather than “N.B.”, which might be confused for a London postcode. (Didn’t remember it happening, I hasten to add, but she was still moaning about it in the ’40s.)

  11. Addolff said:
    “So, Great Britain meaning England, Wales and Scotland being brilliant and triff (as they obviously are) or bog standard Britain plus something else?”

    RichardT said:
    “I thought it was “Great Britain” to distinguish it from “Lesser Britain”, i.e. Brittany.”

    I thought it was Great Britain as it was the biggest of the British Isles. If anything, Lesser Britain IMHO should be Ireland as it’s the next biggest isle.

  12. dotdavid.
    I did peruse wiki after I posted this morning. Ptolomey described Great Britain as what became England, Wales and Scotland (that order again to get the Jocks sporrans in a twist) and “Little Britain” meaning Ireland. I did expect someone to comment…..

  13. Richard T is right. The late medieval distinction was between Britannia Major and Britannia Minor i.e. between Grand Bretagne and Bretagne i.e. between Great Britain and Brittany. Great Britain was turned from a geographical term into a political term (the Kingdom of Great Britain) during the excitements from 1603 – 1707.

    The ancient Greek term Pretanike referred to the whole British Isles. I didn’t know when “Albion” and “Ierne” (or the like) appeared for the biggest and second biggest of the isles but google found me :

    “The classical writer, Ptolemy, referred to the larger island as Great Britain (Megale Britannia) and to Ireland as Little Britain (Mikra Brettania) in his work, Almagest (147–148 AD). In his later work, Geography (c. 150 AD), he gave these islands the names Albion, Iwernia, and Mona (the Isle of Man), suggesting these may have been native names of the individual islands not known to him at the time of writing Almagest. The name Albion appears to have fallen out of use sometime after the Roman conquest of Great Britain, after which Britain became the more common-place name for the island called Great Britain. Great Britain would return to use a millennium later, in the Middle Ages. At that time, it was used to distinguish the island of Britain from the peninsula of Brittany, in northern-western France that had been settled by Britons, which was confusingly similar to the medieval writers. Great Britain and Britain later became synonymous with the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom.”

    The idea that “Britain” meant just E & W sounds like someone’s rather childish rationalisation of his own ignorance, passed on to the gullible Tim.

  14. @dotdavid
    I believe in the sense of Grande-Bretagne, it is the big one to distinguish from the smaller one. Britanny wasn’t always part of France.

  15. If I remember my Geoffrey of Monmouth, Brittany being “little Britain” dates from the mass migration of Celts after the Saxon invasions and when Rome ignored the “groans of the Britons” in the 5th Century.

    According to Hercules ( starring Kevin Sorbo, I’m pretty certain that it wasn’t Xena ) Hibernia became a united island when he helped the inhabitants fight off Caesar after he had conquered Britannia.

    I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of either of these two sources.

  16. Before pontificating on Tim’s apparent lack of knowledge bear in mind we are dealing with a man who is the most ignorant commentator extant in cyberspace today and is the embodiment of pure evil in human form and moderate your judgements accordingly – thanks muchly

  17. @dotdavid: Can I be a pedant and say he’s not being a pendant?

    Not in this forum, you can’t. Not if you know what’s good for you!

  18. Poor old Spud, he’s never correct on this blog.

    I propose an alternative blog, in which all his accurate and well-explained ‘ideas’ are given consideration. So far, that’s none of them, but there’s always hope…

    When I think of our favourite scribe, alone in his office (garden shed?), putting his latest ‘bright ideas’ to keyboard, I also think I see an infinite number of monkeys typing out Shakespearean plays.

    Is it possible (gasp!) that he’s been misjudged? Could he actually be ahead of current understanding, with brilliant perspicacity of the financial world’s issues unfolding before us?


  19. ‘but she was still moaning about it in the ’40s’. Thank you Sam.

    I’m glad to know that there’ve been other people who think like me.

  20. Starmer spends most of his time talking about Starmer, and unicorns! OK, that works for Sunak too! And probably also for Sturgeon. Hard to say for Ed Davey. Impossible to make out what he is saying when he is wearing his trousers! Of course we can hear what Murphy is saying, and hence we know it is meaningless!

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