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05-30-2014, 12:25 AM
Mayor Bee
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
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?
"Soccer" is as dissimilar to "football" as "hockey" is to...well, whatever. And yet in the 19th century, the word "soccer" seemed to spontaneously generate in southern England (specifically Oxford), where it was then exported to North America and then largely disowned in the land of origin.

And one needs only take a cursory glance at cockney slang (early- to mid-19th century origin) to see how easily a basic word can end up being very quickly contorted into something else entirely, also within the same region of southern England.

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