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05-29-2014, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Ohashi_Jouzu View Post
And it still doesn't reconcile the Pictou-based hockey references pre-dating the Croxby Pond account by decades, or the fact that the Dutch - who supposedly brought ice skating to Britain initially - also established themselves in North America long, loooong before 1838, and could figure into the history that we're still missing.
One factor that might (possibly) help support this argument is this illustration from the SIHR document linked above:


Granted, the semantics of bandy/shinty/hockey are very muddy. But it seems pretty clear that the term "hockey" appeared in Britain around the turn of the 19th century, and only in the south.

That suggests three possible interpretations:

1) For reasons unknown, the population of London and southward counties spontaneously started using an invented word for the familiar old game. This seems somewhat unlikely, as broad semantic changes are usually not quite that random.

2) The concept of "hockey" was different in the south than elsewhere in Britain, necessitating a change in terminology to distinguish it as a regional variation. We don't have any record to support that theory.

3) The word was imported from elsewhere through London and the southern port towns, and became widespread in those places which experienced a steady inward flow of former colonists, military, merchants, etc.

Based on the very piecemeal evidence, IMO the best explanation on the table is #3. Which isn't to say this is anything like a smoking gun, but the sudden emergence of a new word in a limited geographic area is consistent with an imported new concept of the game.

Interestingly, the SIHR folks drew the exact opposite conclusion:

"It is likely that British officers from the London area brought the name Hockey to the New World in the 19th Century -- however, the other names of the game was [sic] already in use throughout North America at the time, introduced by earlier generations of immigrants.

The people behind the earliest Canadian references using the word hockey -- all had their military education located southeast of London."

That last line is striking to me -- the military academies in question were located in Southampton (a port city on the southern coast) and Kent (the far southeastern county, where one would cross to France).

A brand-new word for a very old and already-named game arises among young military officers who are living right along the coastline... and SIHR concluded that the word is an export? That doesn't seem right to me. I think a linguist would take one look at the evidence here and suggest that the word came into Britain around that time, and was picked up by students who were frequently exposed to imperial globetrotters. This seems even more likely considering the word "hockey" itself isn't a compound, corruption, or back-formation of an existing English word. It would be one thing if it were suddenly called something similar to "baseball" or "football" or "basketball", but "hockey" has a foreign ring to it.

The real question, IMO, is where did these military brats learn the word?

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