Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Yob rule

A Reading newspaper had a story online today about problems with yobs in town, and the headline actually used the word "yobs." This is a bit funny as the closest thing the U.S. has to the term "yob" is "redneck," and you'd never see a U.S. headline about the police targeting drunken rednecks. The headline might say "troublemakers," but never "rednecks."

Yob is a funny sort of word that we Yanks don't use. A friend from Kent explained that it is "boy" spelled backwards. I'm not sure how the press decided to create the word, as spelling "boy" backwards to create a word for troublemakers kind of implies that all boys are trouble, which isn't true. Unless you have a teenage daughter, which thankfully, I don't. From what I can discern, a yob is basically a troublemaker, often hanging out in a group of other like-minded blokes, very anti-social, who likes to fight at the footy matches and maybe do a little vandalism to pass the time.

In the same vein, another distinctive term they have here is "chav," which I thought was pretty much a yob at first. And it's true that probably most yobs are chavs, but not all chavs are yobs. Or maybe they are; it's all a bit confusing. Perhaps the difference is that chavs love Burberry clothing. According to Wikipedia, a chav:

"... refers to a subculture stereotype of a person who is uneducated, uncultured and prone to antisocial or immoral behaviour. The label is typically, though not exclusively, applied to teenagers and young adults of white working-class or lower-middle class origin. Chav is used for both sexes, where a male chav is sometimes referred to as a chavster and a female as a chavette."

Also according to Wikipedia, CHAV is an acronym for Council Housing and Violence. Whatever the difference between chavs and yobs, if any exists, they all sound like what Americans might call "rednecks". Only we'd use it on the down low in jokes and conversations, but never in the media. Yup, that's right, the media -- and standards about what is and isn't considered PC -- are quite different between the UK and U.S. But that's a topic for another time.

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