Monday, February 14, 2011


Lady Dedlock’s questions caught my attention:

“Is it the town-talk yet? Is it chalked upon the walls and cried on the streets?”

Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1853)
The Oxford English Dictionary traces town-talk — “The common talk or gossip of the people of a town; the subject or matter of such talk or gossip” — to a 1654 speech by Oliver Cromwell: “If it be not folly in me to listen to town-talk, such things have been proposed.” I know the term from a local newspaper editor who has an annoying way of citing town-talk when referencing hitherto unreported news: “As many of you already know,” &c. I usually don’t, as I don’t keep my ear to the town ground.

A related post
Goodbye, local paper

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