It’s not cricket/Theorien zur Entstehung von Cricket

In these times of financial crisis and unemployment, it might be worth considering creating a few exciting language theories.

It is reported in Australia that cricket may have been invented by immigrant Flemish weavers in England in the 16th century. (The shortened link was tweeted by Céline).

Paul Campbell, from the Australian National University’s English and theatre department, has found a poem written by John Skelton in 1533 which mentions immigrants from Flanders playing cricket.

The Image of Ipocrisie is believed to contain the earliest known reference to cricket and backs theories that Flemish weavers who moved to England in the 14th century introduced the game on British shores.

…He was helped by German academic Dr Heiner Gillmeister, of the University of Bonn, who believes the term cricket is based on the Flemish phrase “met de krik ketsen”, which means to chase with a curved stick.

The report quotes Gillmeister (who appears to be a tennis player) as saying

“Of course there is something quite ironic about a German and an Australian making discoveries about what is considered to be such an English game, and in reality that game being a foreign import.”

Yes, of course, and not just saying, but saying again. At least someone on Wikipedia thinks it more likely that it was the Flemish words that were imported, not the game.

According to Heiner Gillmeister, a European language expert of Bonn University, “cricket” derives from the Middle Dutch met de (krik ket)sen (i.e., “with the stick chase”), which also suggests a Dutch connection in the game’s origin. It is more likely that the terminology of cricket was based on words in use in south east England at the time and, given trade connections with the County of Flanders, especially in the 15th century when it belonged to the Duchy of Burgundy, many Middle Dutch[3] words found their way into southern English dialects [4].

The Skelton poem now quoted is said to have been written in 1533, which is exciting, as it is apparently four years after its author’s death.

The History of Cricket

2 thoughts on “It’s not cricket/Theorien zur Entstehung von Cricket

  1. Maybe, just maybe, people in America have got totally fed up with the sort of prescriptivist nonsense that’s been peddled for many years now. And surely that’s a sign of progress, isn’t it?

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