By: Blonde One

Words are great aren’t they? Let’s not forget that! I’ve always loved how the English language can fascinate young and old. A recent conversation with an art teacher about the origins of the word ‘oxymoron’ reminded me of this fascination. By the way, an oxymoron is the placing side by side of 2 ordinarily contradicting words. They’re often used in poetry: Shakespeare liked them a lot. Romeo talked of a ‘heavy lightness’ and ‘loving hate’. The word oxymoron often causes giggles in the classroom! As it also does when I tell classes that they all have an idiolect! You have one too … look it up.

This blog, however, is about something new that I’ve acquired since January (apart from new found happiness and outdoorsiness). It’s my sociolect. I’ve joined a new social group and have been amazed at how this had changed my vocabulary. A sociolect is a pattern of speech and language particular to a group of people, in this case Trinity, my new school, and mine has changed a lot. Here’s just a few of the many examples:

What for me used to be the canteen is now the ‘Refectory’. It’s a small change but I like it a lot. It gives us an air of community. It accurately implies a place to socialise as well as eat.

Rucksacks are known as ‘Bergens’ due to the influence of our own Combined Cadet Force.

This is a great one and I admit to having to look it up: ‘shirt sleeve order’. This is the privilege afforded to students during the hot summer term. Shirt sleeve order originates from the military and is a slight relaxing of uniform to include no ties and smartly rolled up sleeves.

‘Call over’ happens at 5.10pm in the boarding houses. It’s a time to check in with the boarders and share messages.

The hall is known as the ‘Salle’. Obviously from the French language.

What I’ve known previously as Primary School is the ‘Prep’ School at Trinity. It’s short for preparatory and originates from the idea that it prepares children for their independent school entrance exams in the Senior school.

The last word I want to share is the one that replaces assembly. We don’t go to assembly at Trinity, we go to ‘Chapel’. It’s a fantastic way to begin the working day and one of my favourite changes to my professional life.


I’ve used the phrase ‘it’s a different world’ on numerous occasions and my new sociolect is another brilliant example.