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Re: Birmingham & Brummagem

Posted by Gary Martin on February 25, 2003

In Reply to: Birmingham & Brummagem posted by PDM on February 25, 2003

: On the 'Phrase Finder' page for 'Brummagem Screwdriver' it states that:
: (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/58900.html)

: "'Brummagem' is a slang version of 'Birmingham', which is a version of 'Bromwicham', itself a version of 'Brimidgeham', the old name for Birmingham. The Bromwicham form persists in the name of the town to the west of Birmingham - West Bromwich. "
: .....................................................

: Actually, going as far back as 1086, the Domesday form of this name is 'Bermingha.', so Brimidgeham is not the older name for Birmingham.
: The origins of the name are, in fact, Anglo-Saxon, ie pre-Domesday, and mean: the homestead (ham) of the people (ingas) of Beorma.
: Beorma's inga's ham = Birmingham.
: The form 'Brummagem' (there are actually many, many variants) evolved as a result of pronunciation. The 'r' and the vowel towards the beginning of the word have changed places, and the hard 'g' towards the end, has softened. There is a record of the spelling 'Brumingeham' in 1189, I believe.

: Brummagem is not a 'slang' word for Birmingham, it is an alternative version of the name - as are the other variants mentioned. 'Brummagem' became the name used by the locals.
: However, the unfortunate association between the name 'Brummagem' and some counterfeit goods produced by a few unscrupulous Brummies, resulted in the word 'brummagem' actually being given the dictionary meaning: 'counterfeit'. This led the likes of local industrialist, Matthew Boulton, to use the term 'Birmingham' for his products. The form 'Birmingham' became more socially acceptable in these circumstances.
: 'Brummagem' is an evolved, form of 'Birmingham'. It is neither more correct nor more incorrect than 'Birmingham'; it is not earlier than 'Birmingham'; it is not slang for Birmingham; and it may not be anything to do with 'West Bromwich'.

Thanks for the info. Being from the celestial city myself I was pleased to get a copy of 'Proper Brummie' as a birthday present last week. I expect I'll be looking again at that entry soon.