College / university (was: branch of 'Omission of definite article')

Lynne Murphy m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Fri Jan 22 12:27:41 UTC 2010

I can't keep up with these discussions, exactly, but fwiw, here are some
relevant blog posts from Separated by a Common Language, with lots of
comments from lay and linguist readers:

On 'the' in front of 'hospital' and some medical conditions:

On college/university and other educational divisions:

On University of X versus X University:

And on academic titles:

Wow, that almost makes me feel like I know something about British English.

(Actually, these days, I feel I know less and less about American!)


--On 21 January 2010 07:38 -0500 Robin Hamilton
<robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM> wrote:

>> we (at least
>> in BrE) say 'at university' and not 'at/in college'. This is no doubt
>> connected to the fact that very few of the educational institutions here
>> that give post-18 education are called X College - the vast majority are
>> X University.
> Now, certainly, but would that have been true before the 90s?
> There's also a distinction sometimes made (and formally present in some
> institutional names) between X University and the University of X.  A
> follow-on, perhaps, from the older distinction between Oxbridge and the
> Redbrick Universities (the latter mostly founded in the nineteenth
> century).
> The term of disparagement for the institution where Damien is currently
> working -- emerging in the wake of the Robbins Report in the 60s -- was
> "Plateglass University". <g>
>> I am at York at the moment, for example (but I'm not a
>> student, so only see their habits second-hand); here, the Colleges really
>> are just dorms, though they try to foster College loyalty and are trying
>> to
>> raise their profile.
> When I was a graduate student there in the late sixties, the main
> distinction (I was attached to Langwith) was the quality of the pinball
> machines available.  Does this still hold, Damien?
> Then there are the various varieties of Professor in the UK -- (bog
> standard) Professor, Emeritus Professor, Regius Professor, Visiting
> Professor, Professors who hold a Personal Chair ...  I'm sure the list
> could
> be extended.  It doesn't in the least map onto the USA meaning of
> "professor".
> Robin

Dr M Lynne Murphy
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics
Arts B357
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN

phone: +44-(0)1273-678844

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