Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Oxbridge? What is it?

Oxbridge is a portmanteau of Cambridge and Oxford. It is used to refer to those two universities, which are the oldest universities in United Kingdom but also in the English-speaking world. The first occurrence of the word was found in a book written by William Thackeray called “Pendennis”. This book was published in 1849, but not until the 20th century did the term 'Oxbridge' become a common name. Many other portmanteaux were created such as “Doxbridge” and “Loxbridge”. The former refers to the sports tournaments for the colleges of Durham, Oxford and Cambridge. The latter refers to the cities of London, Oxford and Cambridge.

The two famous universities were founded seven centuries ago. Nobody knows exactly when Oxford was founded but it must have been in the 12th century. In 1209, a number of scholars decided to leave Oxford for an unknown reason. They gathered in a small town called Cambridge, where they founded the famous university. The flight of Oxford scholars to Cambridge can explain the friendly rivalry between the universities. Both universities want to be at the top of the national university league tables. About 35 000 people are now studying in Oxbridge. Those universities are so well-known that many British teenagers want to get in to them but not everybody is accepted. Many websites give advice to have more chance to be accepted to Oxbridge. Other websites refer to Oxbridge in a negative way, criticizing the traditional and elitist character of the universities and the behaviour of their students, who are only concerned with money, power and sex.

The meaning of the word “Oxbridge” has evolved and is nowadays used in many different contexts. Firstly, it may be used as an adjective to describe a student of Oxbridge but also someone who shows all the characteristics of Oxbridge (tradition and elitism). Moreover many companies are nowadays making use of this word to refer to their products: Oxbridge Baby, Oxbridge Cricket Ball Range, and so on. In 1984 it was even used in a BBC broadcast showing the life of of students at Cambridge and Oxford. Oxbridge was also used as a setting in some detective and mystery fictions.

1 comment:

caroxa said...

Sorry, I forgot to give the name of the authors of this article: I and GĂ©raldine