[Corpora-List] Numpties and bennies

Ramesh Krishnamurthy r.krishnamurthy at aston.ac.uk
Wed Dec 6 22:50:01 CET 2006

>>I guess this demonstrates the power of the internet over the BNC as

>>a corpus.....

For rare events, events post-1994, and events beyond British English,
There's still the problem of reliability...

At 12:21 06/12/2006, Diana Maynard wrote:

>Hi Harry


>My first thought was that it either meant "going on a bender" ie

>going out and getting drunk, or having a big strop. The latter is

>confirmed by good old Wikipedia:




>/In England, the term is used as a pejorative slang term to describe

>anyone of apparent mental slowness, especially by children (derived

>from the character of the same name, played by Paul Henry

><http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Henry_%28actor%29> in the soap

>opera <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soap_opera> //Crossroads

><http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossroads_%28TV_series%29>). It is

>also used to describe a person in a fit of rage or having a tantrum

>as in "He's having a benny"./


>A google search for "having a benny" reveals this and many similar examples.


>The urban dictionary also reveals a number of other meanings




>I guess this demonstrates the power of the internet over the BNC as

>a corpus.....


>Incidentally, there's no wikipedia entry for "numpty".

>I must admit I would consider numpty to be on the fringe of the

>nonPC terms, but then you can say the same about pretty much any of

>its synonyms......





>Harold Somers wrote:

>>A colleague has just emailed me suggesting that the word "numpty" has

>>become non-PC because of its association with Downs syndrome. I've never

>>made that association ... Has anyone else?


>>A trawl of the standard "references" suggests that numpty is a Scottish

>>slang word (meaning 'idiot' or 'incompetent person') and is being

>>considered fro inclusion in the next edition of the OED; but

>>interestingly its total absence from the BNC suggests either that it has

>>only recently entered the language, and/or that Scottish English is

>>under-represented in the BNC.

>>Would I be right in thinking that the word is entirely unknown in AmE?


>>On a similar theme, I was thinking about the word "benny", a slang term

>>which had a brief life in BrE. With the same meaning as numpty, its

>>etymology is a character in a soap (Crossroads I think) called Benny who

>>was "intellectually challenged". I seem to remember a news article

>>during the Falklands War in which soldiers were being admonished because

>>their slang word for Falkland Islanders was "bennies".


>>"A benny" occurs twice in the BNC, both times in the same source (KCE -

>>a conversation recorded by `Helena' (PS0EB)) as follows:


>>KCE 7007 so she had a bit of a benny it was KCE 7260 I hadn't had a

>>benny for a few days actually

>>Helena also talks about "bennies":

>>KCE 7258 Not that I ever have major bennies or anything


>>I'm guessing that here she means a "benzedrine" tablet, though that

>>interpretation doesn't really fit the syntax (a bit of a benny, major

>>bennies). Anyone any idea what a benny is in this context? (Perhaps the

>>surrounding text can help - what is the topic of the conversation?).


>>There's one other occurrence of "bennies" in the BNC, from "Skinhead" by

>>Nick Knight, the meaning of which I think is "Ben Sherman shirts"

>>ARP 213 Most skinhead girls, sometimes called rennes, would wear

>>bennies, button-fly red tags, white socks and penny loafers or monkey




>>Harold Somers




Ramesh Krishnamurthy

Lecturer in English Studies, School of Languages and Social Sciences,
Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK
[Room NX08, North Wing of Main Building] ; Tel: +44 (0)121-204-3812 ;
Fax: +44 (0)121-204-3766

Project Leader, ACORN (Aston Corpus Network): http://corpus.aston.ac.uk/

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