Proper English at Wimbledon

By Jane Voigt

June 24, 2013 — There’s English, like people speak in the United States. And there’s The King's English, which people in the United States definitely don’t speak. 

But no matter what dialect of English you prefer, the diction and syntax the folks at Wimbledon used in its Visitors’ Guide will catch your attention.

As you start reading you are immediately struck with how this tournament is viewed, by the people that wrote the brochure and hold it so dear. They do not call it, “Wimbledon;” instead, it is “The Championships.” It comprises five main playing categories — women’s and men’s singles, women’s and men’s doubles, and mixed doubles. However in the second week, The Championships welcome "Junior, Veteran and Wheelchair competitors.”

About Tickets — In bold print it warns, “Do not buy tickets from touts or other unauthorised [not unauthorized] agents: they will not gain you entry to the Grounds [capitalization theirs].” 

According to ‘touts’ is defined as, “Chiefly British. One who solicits customers brazenly or persistently.” So please stay away from those touts and don’t be caught touting, which is the action side of the word. Example: “The tall man touted a young couple, grabbing their wallets and leaving them with nothing more than ticket stubs which would not gain them entrance.”

Security Restrictions — “No hard-sided items,” which are listed as “picnic hampers, coolboxes, briefcases, thermos flasks and camping chairs.” More detailed information about restricted items is tucked in the back of the guide. These are prohibited: knives, sharp objects (corkscrews), personal protection (mace), large flags, ambush marketing, signs with political slogans, rattles of klaxons (loud horn), illegal substances, tents, flairs, and long lenses for cameras.”

Left Luggage — ‘Left luggage’ is a British syntactical mystery. It means a location for lost and found items. Thus, 'Left Luggage' is a permanent place. The brochure reads, “These items [stuff you can’t bring in] can be left at Left Luggage facilities outside the Grounds. A charge of £1 will be made for deposited items, apart from camping equipment, which will cost £5. Proceeds are donated towards improving facilities in Wimbledon Park.

There is a location called 'Lost Property,’ too, so go figure.

Any reference in the guide to smart phones eliminates capitalization. It’s not an ‘iPhone,’ it’s an ‘iphone.’ No ‘iPads,’ just ‘ipads.’ Outside the Apple world of e-gadgets … no ‘Androids,’ only ‘androids.’ 

Babies and Children — “We recommend that babes in arms and pushchairs are not brought to The Championships as the Grounds are large and crowded.” Very good advice, when you translate the terms. 

This section takes word choice to another dimension, "Babes in arms and children under 5 are not allowed into the Show Courts (Centre, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and Courts 12 & 18). A limited number of baby changing facilities are available but there are no facilities for mothers to ‘express’ milk." defines ‘expressing milk’ as pumping milk from a baby without the child ‘latching on.’ So no latching of kids on the Grounds of The Championships. 

Of course the Guide is chuck full of pertinent information for visitors, no matter the diction. There are maps of the Grounds, the surrounding area, and public transport lines. If you drive, several ‘Car Parks’ for vehicles are available. ‘Minibuses’ have their own parking areas. If you reserve a spot for your minivan the charge/day is £25. If not, the higher rate applies: £30/day applies. Walking is encouraged, quite literally. 

About food — Take out restaurants are called ‘Grab and Go,’ or ‘take away.’ At ‘L Aorangi Food Court’ you can walk out with a 'sizzling salad.’ Perhaps you know what is a sizzling salad. In case you do not, it is something along the lines of a Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad better known as greens with hot food on top.

If you’d like to peruse the Wimbledon Ticket Holders’ Guide, please click here, Wimbledon Ticket Holders’ Guide, 2014. It’s a feast of mouth watering words and groupings of words that leave you with a smile and lots of insights into the world of Wimbledon … oops, The Championships.

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013