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Tea room discussion[edit]

Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.

Can anyone ascertain whether the word bridewell (small prison) is soothly only UK, as it is currently tagged? In the entry on MW online, which is US-based and which tags UK words as chiefly British, there was no such tag. Is it widespread in the USA? For more see User talk:SemperBlotto#bridewell. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 15:51, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

I am an American and this word is completely unfamiliar to me. It also lacks an entry in Macquarie (the leading dictionary of Australian English), so it might be micro-British rather than macro-British. -- Visviva 15:57, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
There are an astonishing-to-me 31 hits for this word in the BNC, though a number of these are capitalized references to Bridewell Hospital (source of the common noun?). There are 14 hits in COCA, of which 11 are for the surname Bridewell. For common nouns only, the BNC-to-COCA ratio is 14:3. Factoring in the size of the relative corpora, I would call that a "coefficient of Britishness" of 18.0, which is pretty darned British. -- Visviva 16:05, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
There is, apparently, a 'Bridewell Street' in Los Angeles. It may well be a herring - does anyone know what colour? Pingku 16:28, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
If so, then someone must bid MW online insert the chiefly British tag, which they have not done hitherto. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 16:45, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
It exists, at least as far as google is concerned, but what is its etymology? Pingku 17:27, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
Most likely it's named after someone named Bridewell. -- Visviva 17:34, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
Well of course, but can you verify that?? Pingku 17:55, 7 March 2009 (UTC) 17:47, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
There's a Bridewell in Dublin Ireland as well. But in all my time in Ireland I never heard is used as such for a prison--Dmol 10:46, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
    • "[…] not in the Corporation Block, as much ground to spare from its present uses, as would be required for erecting a Bridewell, […]" — Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831‎, pp. 592
    • "[…] which is for building a Bridewell or Work House in the said City no Provision is made nor Power given nor method prescribed […]" — The Colonial Laws of New York from the Year 1664 to the Revolution pp. 975
    • "The Sub-Committee found that establishment to be totally distinct from, and by its construction incompatible with the arrangements necessary for a Bridewell" — Records Relating to the Early History of Boston‎ pp. 194
  • Last time I checked, New York and Boston were not British in the 19th century. ☺
    • "[…] any other use than that of a Bridewell, the property should then become vested in […]" — A history of the city of Dublin‎, pp. 8
    • "[…] and accordingly he set to work to obtain a site near the College and money to build a Bridewell for the restraining of vagrants and beggars […]" — An Epoch in Irish History: Trinity College, Dublin, Its Foundation and Early Fortunes, pp. 130
  • You didn't spend enough time in Ireland, Dmol. Uncle G 16:05, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
    • Marvellous, thus we can get rid of the UK template and input these citations on Citations:bridewell (but the problem is the capitalisation - on Citations:bridewell or Citations:Bridewell ?). As a conclusion, bridewell turned out to be a full-scale English word. Has anyone from the USA any onjections? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 16:30, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
      • We certainly can not get rid of the UK template, based on the evidence presented thus far. A regional template does not mean that a word is used only in that region -- not in the sense that no published uses outside of the region can be found. After all, it is not that hard to find even words like "lorry" in putatively US sources if one looks hard enough. Thus, the cherry-picked citations above are not particularly relevant IMO. In the case of bridewell, based on the evidence given I think it would be fine to replace {{UK}} with {{mostly|UK}} or {{UK|rare or obsolete elsewhere}}; the last in particular would be both accurate and precise. But to simply remove the template would be to remove useful, correct information about regional usage patterns. -- Visviva 17:12, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
        • When quotations that show you to be in error appear, calling them "cherry-picked" is a sign of reaching. Uncle G 12:30, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
      • I agree with Visviva. The fact that a very small number of citations can be found in US-published materials does not make this a part of the US lexicon. I have never heard the word used outside of British television, or seen it outside of British novels or newspapers (and I have experienced a very large numbmer of all three British sources). I can remember first learning this term from British television and I had to go look it up. Growing up in america, I had not heard it used here. The fact that a word can be found in a US publication does not mean that the American public uses it or knows its meaning, the above quotes indicate to me only that the Irish, Irish immmigrants to the US, and colonial citizens of the future US use this term. --EncycloPetey 17:22, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
        • Who said the number was small? I didn't. And you haven't looked. The fact that your vocabulary doesn't include the word means nothing. Aside from the fact that no-one's personal vocabulary ever represents the totality of a language, the word almost certainly isn't in the modern Brit's vocabulary either, but here you are arguing that it is a U.K. English word nonetheless.

          The simple fact is that the word has dropped into desuetude, because such institutions no longer exist, but was in both U.S. and U.K. English. You haven't paid attention to the dates of the quotations. The Boston Records were written in 1821, for example — the 19th century, as I said. Trying to turn that into a pre-Independence quotation is both drawing a highly erroneous boundary around U.S. English (whose evolution didn't magically start in 1776 — read American English#Creation of an American lexicon if you are confused upon this point) and a rather large re-write of established history.

          You can find similar uses in the Statutes of Nova Scotia (1822) and the Laws and Ordinances of the City of Chicago (1873). The city council of New York had a Jail and Bridewell Committee until the at least the 1820s, when the slum problem of Five Points (which didn't even exist prior to the 19th century) came up for review before it. The city council of Chicago had a Bridewell Committee right up until the early 20th century. Chicago had an official position of bridewell keeper. (The incumbent of that office in 1855 was a David Walsh, for example.) It had a City Bridewell until at least 1898 (when the Chicago Woman's Club was lobbying to stop children being sent there). It's ridiculous to think that all of the U.S. English speakers speaking about, writing about, and lobbying over all of these never used the word "bridewell". And it's clear from the Boston Records, for one, that on the contrary they did use it.

          Trying to paint this as a non-U.S. word is a nonsense. Both of you, as established lexicographers, should know better than to conflate your personal vocabularies with the language as a whole, and both of you should know better than to conflate the fact that a word isn't now used with the premise that it wasn't ever used. Accept the fact that Merriam-Webster is right and you are wrong. Clearly the M-W lexicographers have done their research. Uncle G 12:30, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

          I suggested that it be tagged "rare or obsolete" outside the UK. I don't see anything in your evidence that would contradict this, and the discrepancies in the counts between the COCA and the BNC lean very strongly in this direction. The fact that this is in contemporary use in England, but (apparently) not or very rarely in use elsewhere, needs to be documented... unless it is false. But you haven't shown that it is false, and there seems to be abundant corpus-based empirical evidence that it is true. -- Visviva 10:52, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
          It's not in contemporary use in the UK. It's just an archaic word, everywhere. Ƿidsiþ 11:36, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
          No, please not archaic, SemperBlotto already weighed it up as dated, so in the case of UK it would be too strong. US based Merriam Webster does not use any tag soever, and I personally would infer thence that this is a wonted word in both the Commonwealth and the USA, but if all of you except Uncle G are keen to contest it..., I cannot but hearken thereunto. I am a foreign speaker of English after all. Ceterum censeo that the tag dated is more well-placed. The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 12:08, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
          Well, this is interesting. The frequency in the BNC is about 1 in 3 million, which suggests a relatively infrequent word, but one that a native speaker would probably be familiar with. (Does that jibe with your experience?) The frequency in COCA is less than 1 in 100 million, which suggests a word that a person could go their entire life without encountering (as I'm pretty sure I had, until this entry was created). As a sanity check, the difference between these distributions has a log-likelihood of 29.75, which corresponds to p < 0.0001 (probability of significance greater than 99.99%). But I suppose it's possible that the BNC is in some way biased towards texts that happen to include the word "bridewell"... -- Visviva 14:27, 10 March 2009 (UTC)