Posted by Word Camel on August 12, 2002
In Reply to: Late Follow-up posted by TheFallen on August 12, 2002
: : Posted by Bob on May 31, 2002
: : In Reply to: the man (woman) on the Clapham omnibus posted by masakim on May 30, 2002
: : : : : Hello,
: : : : : Does this phrase mean "ordinary British people"? Any idea of Clapham omnibus? Thank you.
: : : : Yes, it does, particularly the uneducated masses, as in: "What does the man on the Clapham omnibus know about quantum theory?"
: : : : I've never heard the female version, though.
: : : : Clapham is considered, I suppose, an average suburb of London, the omnibus (bus) an unexciting mode of transport.
: : : : psi
: : : Man on the Clapham omnibus, The. In legal parlance, 'the reasonable person'. Possibly the phrase was first used by Sir Charlrd Bowen, QC (later Lord Bowen), who was junior council against the claimant in the Tichborne case (1871-4).
: : : From _Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, 16th Edition_
: : : the man on the Clapham omnibus (BrE) a phrase like _the man in the street_, which means the average ordinary English person (of either seX).... The choice of the bus from Clapham, an area of south-west London, has no special meaning; it is just a typical bus from a fairly ordinary place....
: : : From _Oxford Guide to British and American Culture_
: : Is "omnibus" still in common usage in the UK? In the US, it was shortened to "bus" a long time ago. We also tend to use the awkward and vague "mass transit" for any and all underground and elevated trains, because each city tends to nickname its own. The subway in New York is the El in Chicago is the T in Boston, etc.
: No, nobody would use "omnibus" in the UK any more... it's "bus" too. We wouldn't use "mass transit" typically either, but rather "public transport" to describe buses and trains collectively - and the underground train system in London is referred to as "the Tube". As a side note, somewhere in the archives there's a brief discussion on the plural of bus being buses.
I think bus must be universal now. Years ago, when I lived in Korea, I asked a Korean student the Korean word for "bus". (Korean was beyond me, but I can find my way around Seoul)She thoughs for a moment and then told me "Bus is semsem".
Later that year when I was lost after a trip to the ice skating rink, I attempted to ask where a particular bus was by showing people the number and earnestly saying "semsem". They just smiled and touched my hair. Anyway, I finally blurted out the word "bus" and the knew what I was talking about. It was only then that I realised that the student I spoke to was trying to explain that the word was the *same* in English and Korean: Hence "Same, same". Omnibus was used too.