Alex Steer

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St Patrick and the prescriptivists

230 words | ~1 min

17 March was St Patrick's Day, and this obviously led to an upswing of online chatter about the fifth-century Romano-British snake-chaser.

On Twitter, Marcus Campbell (@scronide) noticed, and remarked, that a lot of US tweeters were referring to St Patrick as 'St Patty', in contrast to 'Paddy', the commoner abbreviation in British and Irish English. In response, he set up, a light-hearted site campaigning against the use of the 'Patty' abbreviation. As the site announces in big white type:

It's Paddy, not Patty. Ever.

But the internet disagrees. Look at Twitter:

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The short period in which 'St Paddy' outscores 'St Patty' may reflect the time difference between the British Isles and North America.

Martin McGrath (@martinmcgraththought it was a new phenomenon. It's not, as Google Trends shows:

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Which is a shame, as the Paddy Not Patty website's hilarious. But the commitment to record language as it's used never takes a day off, not even to paint its face green, drink Guinness and have a bit of a fight.

# Alex Steer (18/03/2010)