This post is about the Ordnance Survey claim that the term “British Isles” is a “purely geographical term”. I recently asked them on their blog what was the justification for it being “purely geographical” The Ordnance Surrey maintain that it is not in their remit to discuss the logic of this term, but still insist on using it, promoting its use and describing it as “purely geographical term” despite it clearly not being one. Just because you claim it repeatably, doesn’t make it so!
If they defined the term as the islands of Britain, Ireland and the Isle of Man then I would agree it was a geographical term. Note if you define it as the UK, Ireland etc… then it is automatically a geo-political term, as the UK is not a geographical term but a political term defining a country. The addition of the Channel Islands make it a geopolitical term.
I would suggest, however, that in this modern age of continued cooperation between our government’s and people that we could be progressive enough to come up with a better term that is not hindered by the political and linguistic problems that this term causes. The ambiguous nature of the term, its continued inaccurate use and extension to political and cultural spheres make me realise the only way forward is to abandon the term and retire it to the dustbin of history. I am not offended by the term, but by its ignorant and lazy use; the term should not be used in this modern age of mutual respect between our islands. There is no need for such a term, certainly outside of purely geographical literature, or justification for its use. There is always a more accurate and less ambiguous term that can be used for the groupings of islands referred to.
If it is not in the remit of the Ordnance Survey to comment on this term, then why is it in its remit to define and promote its use? Especially when it is known to cause offence by the way it is used? They are clear about not inaccurately using other terms so as to not offend people, yet they don’t adequatily do so in this case?
I see no reason to use this ambigious term unless you are trying to cause offensive. If you disagree please enlighten me. When would be acceptable to use it?
- Ordnance Survey Medal Map: NI Medallists Missing (jeffpeel.net)