Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kingsley Amis Defines ‘Expert’

From The King’s English: A Guide to Modern Usage:


If asked, and quite possibly without being asked, an expert in the year 1800 might have told you the tale that Shotover Hill near Oxford got its name from an exploit of the legendary Little John, who is supposed to have once shot an arrow over it, no doubt for a bet. An expert of early Victorian times might well have said that that was ‘unscientific’ and that Shotover is a corrupt form of Chateau Vert, presumably an erection of Norman times now demolished. By 1900 if not before it was established that neither ‘explanation’ held water, that Shotover comes from two Old English words and that the name of the topographical feature is Hillhill Hill, or is so paraphrasable. Thanks a lot.

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