Always fair and even-handed
Posted by The Fallen on January 22, 2002
In Reply to: Earlier reference posted by Word Camel on January 21, 2002
: : : Where did the term "Oxbridge" come from? I'm also wondering if there is such a thing as an Oxbridge accent. I once introduced two Oxford graduates, whose accents mutated as they spoke into something very unlike the way either had spoken before, clipped, fast and rather hard-to-understand. Perhaps someone experienced in these matters could comment.
: : One entry found for Oxbridge.
: : Main Entry: Ox·bridge
: : Pronunciation: 'äks-"brij
: : Function: adjective
: : Etymology: Oxford + Cambridge
: : Date: 1960
: : : of, relating to, or characteristic of Oxford and Cambridge Universities -- compare PLATEGLASS, REDBRICK 2
: You jogged my memory and I realised that Virginia Woolf mentions "Oxbridge" in "A Room of One's Own" published in 1929
: "Fiction here is likely to contain more truth than fact.Therefore I propose, making use of all the liberties and licenses of a novelist, to tell you the story of the two days that preceeded my coming here-how, bowed down by the weight of the subject whidh you have laid upon my shoulders, I pondered it, and made it work in and out of my daily life. I need not say that what I am about to describe has no existance; Oxbridge is and invention; so its Fernham; "I" being only a convenient term for somebody who has no real being. Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping."
: So perhaps she did invent it. Any one found anything else?
The term "Oxbridge accent" is a misnomer - it's not an accent as such, but more of an entire dialect, which is delivered at high speed with perfectly enunciated vowels and beautifully clipped consonants, with never a one dropped. For those who have not heard it, imagine Laurence Olivier after 14 cups of coffee laced with amphetamines, and you'll be close.
Wordcamel's observation is astute - via a variety of subtle arcane signs that brings to mind Freemasonry, two Oxford graduates can recognise each other from 50 paces, and then will both instantly and instinctively switch into their own scarcely intelligible lingua franca.
(You'll note that I've excluded any mention of Cambridge graduates from the above paragraph - a thing which is totally reasonable, since I wouldn't trust any of that patricular bunch of slack-jawed, vacant-eyed, fen-wading, low-browed reprobates to recognise one end of a punt from another, let alone to be able to communicate together in anything more than a grunt).