What's in a (blog) name?

by - February 26, 2014

That was the name I chose for my blog. I had been considering blogging about life after FLR(M) for couple months before inspiration struck...in the shower no less. So in today's post I hope to explain the terms and why they fit!

For as long as my husband and I have known each other we’ve always made fun of (and admired) the interesting vocabulary from each other’s cultures. I remember one Christmas he wished me a “Merry Crimble”….Crimble?! What a weird name...I’m sure it has it’s own interesting origin, but I want to focus on Blighty.

As we talked he would occasionally refer to his homeland as Blighty. Now when I heard that word it didn’t sound very positive to me...perhaps because the word blight is quite negative.

But according to the Wikipedia Article on Blighty, this isn’t the origin at all. Now common sense sort of told me this all along as I didn’t think Kevin would refer to his homeland as a purely negative nickname. That wikipedia article says it actually derives from a regional variant of an Urdu word (bilayati) that came to be an adjective to describe things as British or English. It goes on to explain it as a term of endearment or British Expats or those on holiday abroad...and that it first came into this usage in World War I as the soldiers were longing for home.

(Also just as a side note, it describes a Blighty wound as something received that meant the soldier must recouperate away from the trenches but not fatal and was something many soliders hoped for. This description reminded me of Downton Abbey when one of the characters stuck his hand up out of the trenches holding a lighter to get shot which subsequently got him sent home. While the Wikipedia article says it was hoped for by many...it makes perfect sense the particular Downton character would have planned a wound such as that as he is quite the manipulative and selfish character! Anyway this has nothing to do with the reason I chose my blog name ,just an observation I made that interested me!)

I’m not sure really why Blighty stuck out to me as a nickname for England that Kevin used. He’s never been an expat, but I’m guessing it’s just the kind of nickname that is used enough that he’s picked it up. Other than the name of the blog I don’t actually use Blighty in any sort of conversation. However, I have to admit that ever since I studied abroad in London back in 2008 I always said there was something about this city and country that felt right, like home. These feelings only grew once I met Kevin as it now felt like a part of me was here in england. So as silly as it sounds maybe some part of me was a British expat stuck in America.  

Plus on a more practical level I think that it just felt appropriate that if I was going to be calling myself a Yank as Kevin (and other Brits) have referred to me as, then it would flow nicely to include another British term. Also I think I thought it would be familiar enough and make sense to my potential local readership base while being a bit familiar but just foreign enough to generate interest amongst American readers.

Now the Yank part of A Yank in Blighty is probably even more obvious, but depending on your side of the pond could determine your view. Wikipedia, of course, has a nice article on the term Yankee where it delves into the origins of the term and it’s cultural significance and it’s usage. But while I felt I need that information to explain the term Blighty, I don’t think it’s as essential here. A Yank or Yankee is an American. At least when I’m on this side of the pond. Going back in American history it refers to Northerners as referenced in the Civil War.

So here’s a confession...I was born in Arkansas. Which is actually the South. And which still to this day has a state flag derived of the confederate flag. So growing up there, if I had met Kevin as a child and he had called me a Yank I probably would have bristled at the thought. Not that I’m wishing for the South to rise again nor will I be flying any confederate flags or anything ridiculous like that, but you just don’t really call Southerners Yankees...it’s just not done. But as it turns out not only did my family move me to St. Louis where I spent my formative years in what I always called a Northern city in a Southern state, but after my mom has done some genealogical research turns out the Southern roots aren’t as deep as I thought and turns out I had Yankee soldiers for ancestors. So now with my time in St. Louis and the knowledge of my ancestors I embrace the term Yank. I understand that British people often use it with negative connotations, but I’m not going to let that get to me. I’m in the expat stage where I’m more patriotic here then I generally was at home. Turns out the Brits like to make fun of Americans...a lot and while sometimes it’s funny or even well-deserved...I find myself getting quite defensive.

In fact, I recently had the opportunity to attend a taping of Top Gear (who make fun of Americans all the time apparently) and when Jeremy Clarkson asked if there were any Americans in I not only was still enthusiastic enough to shout, but when he asked why we put strawberries on everything (which we don’t) I, in my desperate defense mode, replied with because they taste good! While true, probably not the most eloquent defense of my home land...which by the way produces the most amazing strawberries ever in the early Summer (this is in Arkansas mind you) and are always a staple at our house. Thankfully they have strawberries here around Wimbledon so I can still get my fix (and they aren’t half bad, though never quite as good!)

If you like to view the clip I’ve got it timed up pretty close at http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b03vp5dw/?t=23m06s on BBC iplayer or I’m not sure where to watch in the US but it’s probably about halfway through the News segment of Season 21 Episode 2 if you watch it!).

Really what this proves is that I am still a loud American who now wants to defend the reputation of her homeland while also hopefully learning to fit in well enough to become a future citizen in a new country that has felt like home for a long time. So thus I am very much...

A Yank In Blighty

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  1. I love the name A Yank in Blighty, I think its really catchy! I'm also very jealous you went on Top Gear!! My blog name came from a recommendation from one of my friends, as she said I should have been called something like Fifi and it went from there. We are still best friends so I always smile when someone asks how I found my blog name :)

    Jenna || Jennafifi.co.uk