going tonto

Jonathon Green slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK
Mon May 20 09:26:02 UTC 2002

I go for TV's Tonto, i.e. negative racial stereotyping based on the name of
a rather benign character, rather than Spain's 'tonto'.

1. The Lone Ranger was available on UK television, albeit a medium far less
widely watched than in the US in the 1950s. 'He' is indeed an unexceptional
cultural entity here. (After all, there wasn't the slightest hesitation - in
all classes - in appreciating the pun behind 'Sloane Ranger'.)

2. I'm not too sure about this 'upper class' identification, although I
might go for 'upper-middle class' (these things matter in the UK).

3. Spanish has nothing like the importance as a school-level language than
French, which is always the primary 'second language' in the UK. As for
coming across it in situ, the majority of Brits who go to Spain (excepting
Barcelona) are working class. And they don't use 'tonto'.

I would like to join the 'hat trick' discussion but life is infinitely too
short for a cricket lecture. Those who need to know should consult the
incomparable and omniscient 'Language of Cricket' by John Eddowes (Penguin
1997). And remember, this is a 'game' in which there are field positions
known as 'silly-mid-on', 'forward short leg', 'deep mid wicket' and 'cover
point'. Still, better the flannelled fools than the muddied oafs any day.

Jonathon Green

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