The Hedge People

I wrote recently about the use of hedge- as a derogatory prefix, as for instance in the adjective “hedge-born” which means “of low birth” or “born under a hedge”.

However there is an alternative usage of “hedge-” which I think should be encouraged, in which it simply means “common” as in “the common people.” Of course common can itself be a snobbish insult (when used by someone who looks down on the common people). But the common people can simply mean “the ordinary people.” So for instance in the Richard Jefferies quote below “hedge language” is just the everyday dialect and slang spoken by the ordinary rural folk or, as they might be called, “the hedge people.”

The boys and girls play in the ditches till they go to school, and they play in the hedges and ditches every hour they can get out of school, and the moment their time is up they go to work among the hedges and ditches, and though they may have had to read standard authors at school, no sooner do they get among the furrows than they talk hedge and ditch language.

Richard Jefferies


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Filed under Historical Hedges, Rural Britain, The Hedge Philosopher

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