Who is Gordon Bennett anyway?

Published June 11, 2012 by KalamityK

It’s been pretty quiet at work today. There are usually about 12 of us but we all work varying hours and days so some days it’s busy and some days it’s like the Mary Celeste. Somedays it can be both, with the morning being full of people and then by about 2pm it’s gone all quiet again.  So I thought I’d fill my time by attempting post #10. WordPress keeps encouraging me to get to my next big achievement.. post #10, so here it is. I’d better get an extra big congrats from them!

I said something earlier as an expression to a colleagues’ comment. I don’t even remember what we were talking about but my response was ‘Gordon Bennett!’ And then I instantly thought ‘Who is Gordon Bennett? This is an exclamation I’ve heard countless times throughout my life but where did it come from? I have no idea so I’m gonna google it………

…….googleyoogleyoogley………..

Aha!……So Gordon Bennett was born in 1841 He lived a hedonistic lifestyle and frequently did things people thought were terribly terribly shocking. He  inherited his fathers’ multi-million dollar estate and he was also a very good journalist who took control of the New York Herald. He’s also the bloke who sent  a correspondent off to find David Livingstone in Africa when everyone else had given him up as lost and hence the famous words were uttered ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?’ So now we know.  Yay!

It got me wondering about other euphimisms and minced oaths we commonly use but often haven’t got a clue where they came from. The reason there are so many, and this is just my opinion, is probably because the British, particularly the upper classes back in the day, didn’t want to be heard swearing and sounding like common dock hands. It was frowned upon as coarse and vulgar. Respectable people didn’t utter curse words! So they made up alternative words and phrases to use at times when an expletive might have come in handy but their peers wouldn’t approve.

Dagnammit – God damn it! I use this one a fair bit. It must be the ‘good’ stock in me 😉 see Family Tree post.

Darn/Dang – Damn.

Crikey – Christ.

Good Grief – Good God.

For crying out loud – For christ’s sake.

Strewth- God’s truth. Those are not exactly swear words are they? I guess they would come under taking the Lords’ name in vain. Blasphemy could very likely earn you a clout around the ear from your mother and a threat from the parish priest to end up in the eternal fires of damnation! Not worth the aggro really.

Flaming Heck/Flipping Heck – Fucking hell      … (don’t slap me, mum!)

Then there are the ones I can’t imagine posh people saying…..

Cor Blimey – God blind me. My mum told me that one when I was a kid. She used to say that if I kept saying blimey, God might just do it! 

Bleeding Heck/Blimmin’ heck –  Bloody hell.  I wonder where Bleeding Nora comes from though. I can’t find that one. Who was Nora?

There are a lot of minced oaths around but we’ve got so used to them that we don’t really wonder about them anymore. I like ’em. I like the history of where words and expressions come from. So many countries use our language that it’s an ever evolving thing. New words are added constantly but we don’t make up so many new minced oaths anymore because swearing is so widely accepted now as every day language. It’s a shame really. I am guilty of swearing now and then. Lately it’s been more often than I used to but I think I’ll have a go at making up some new minced oaths instead. After all, the more you use a swear word, the less effective it becomes. I think I’ll keep mine for special occasions. Or when I’m really ‘peed’ off.

I don’t know if I’ll ever call someone a  ‘Berk‘ again though. It derives from the cockney rhyming slang ‘Berkeley hunt’……

Kalamity K 🙂

 

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3 comments on “Who is Gordon Bennett anyway?

  • Actually flaming heck derives from flaming hell, which was in common use amongst churchmen when they preached hellfire and damnation, which then carried into the streets as a ‘minced oath’. Once upon a time when society was more tuned in to their eternal destination, (more around the times of war when death was so commonplace and life very precious) flaming hell was something everyone wanted to avoid, so i expect it made ladies gasp with disapproval. The other word you mentioned was used very sparingly even amongst commoners until films and tv made it common parlance on the streets. I grew up on an estate in the 50’s and nobody used it except the 2 or 3 roughest families, and maybe a few teens who were being risque’. Kids would have got a clout round the head from a copper or their mum, or the cane from a teacher, and adults using it would be considered very low class, and especially lacking in vocabulary.

    Like you i shall never use the word burk ever again, or not until someone comes up with another story!

    • I forgot about that one. Flamin’ ‘eck, you’re right! 🙂
      As for ‘that’ word, I know a lot more people use it nowadays but I think for the majority, it’s still highly offensive. I’m still slightly shocked when I hear it on tv. I don’t like it and I don’t think it’s necessary. A lot of the manchilds’ generation seem to use it much more casually. I know some of them do so purely because it’s so offensive and they revel in that. They seem to think that using it equates to sticking two fingers up to society. Sad and a little bit pathetic? I wonder what will replace it when it becomes as common as the f bomb.

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