Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 8 14:30:35 UTC 1999

At 2:43 PM -0500 12/6/99, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>At 12:13 PM 12/6/99 -0700, you wrote:
>>Given that my name does*n't* sound like the name of the rather more famous
>>David Bowie,[1] i've learned to take my name being mispronounced in stride.
>>Still doesn't explain multiple telemarketers calling and asking for what
>>sounds to me like "David Botha", though.
>>[1] FTR, his last name is [bo.i], mine is [bu.i]. To drag this back on-topic
>>for the list, i've been told that there's a north-south difference on the
>>island containing Scotland and England (is there a name for that island) for
>>my last name, where in the north it's [bu.i] and in the south it's [bo.i],
>>but i haven't been able to verify this.
>It's Great Britain!
or Britain (tout court).  Here's the OED on "Britain":

[1]a. The proper name of the whole island containing England, Wales, and
Scotland, with their dependencies; more fully called Great Britain; now also
used for the British state or empire as a whole.

After the OE. period, Britain was used only as a historical term, until
about the time of Henry VIII and Edward VI, when it came again into
politics in connexion with the efforts made to unite England and Scotland;
in 1604 James I was proclaimed `King of Great Britain'; and this name was
adopted for the United Kingdom, at the Union in 1707. After that event,
South Britain and North Britain are frequent in Acts of Parl. for England
and Scotland respectively: the latter is still in occasional (chiefly
postal) use. (So West Britain, humorously or polemically for `Ireland'.)
Britain is a modern rhetorical phrase for `Great Britain and the colonies',
`the British Empire', brought into vogue in 1868.

although Britain may also refer (or may have once) to...

"2.  The duchy of Brittany or Bretagne in France; also called Little
Britain, Britain the less. Obs."

Presumably the problem with both "Britain" and "Great Britain" as a
geographical label for that once-sceptered isle comes from the confusion
with the political designation "United Kingdom", but since that's short (I
think) for "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", this
would confirm Beverly's observation.


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