What is in a Name?

Living here in Britain, and in London in particular, it is hard to escape the Olympics. It’s hard to escape the madness around it. I know I was not very happy paying extra council tax for the event. An event I knew I would never attend, but that is life. My tax money was probably spent on a better cause than the majority of the tax I pay. I certainly enjoyed watching the boxing, the only sport I actually know anything about or had an interest in that was in the Olympics. The women’s boxing was a great addtion in my view and their technique and skill was tremendeous.

I also could not escape the commotion surrounding the naming of teams. There was the arguments around the ‘Team GB’ Soccer. There was the confusion, again with the soccer, around the North Korean team and the South Korean team. Then there was the argument around the name ‘Team GB’ itself.

There were claims that the ‘team GB’ name wasn’t inclusive because it did not include the UK region of Northern Ireland. There has been calls by the devolved government in Northern Ireland for the name to be changed. For example, Gregory Campbell of the DUP made the argument that the name was not inclusive as the full name of the team, team Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is always shortened to ‘Team GB’. The British Olympic committee use ‘Team GB’ officially in all of their branding. He maintains that team name should be team UK, as this would include the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

However, team UK would not include the Isle of Man nor would it include the Channel Islands. Both of these Islands are Crown Dependencies, but are not part of the UK or the EU, although they hold British passports. These passports are stamped with the name British Islands on them.

English: Passport of the Isle of Man

An Example of a non-UK British Passport from the Isle of Man with British Islands stamped on the cover (note that not all Isle of Man passports have European Union stamped on them as the Isle of Man is not part of the EU. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what would an appropriate name be? The most accurate would be team British Islands. The British Islands is defined as the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man in the aptly named “Interpretation Act 1978, CHAPTER  30”. This has the advantage of being a legally defined term that is inclusive of the regions that are represented by the current ‘Team GB’.

The British Islands is rarely defined in style guides or used in publications. This is suprising because it is a very usful term. The question is when will the British Goverment sort out the mess surrounding naming things and actually follow their own definations of terms. When they, or others, don’t, someone gets offended.