Chav

So, I learned a new word today! From a combination of the definitions in Wikipedia and World Wide Words:

A chav (pronounced /ˈtʃæv/ chav) is a stereotype of certain people in the United Kingdom. [Characterized often by their social standing (low) and their dress which shows] a love of flashy gold jewellery (hooped earrings, thick neck chains, sovereign rings and heavy bangles, which all may be lumped together under the term bling-bling); the wearing of white trainers (in what is called “prison white”, so clean that they look new); clothes in fashionable brands with very prominent logos; and baseball caps, frequently in Burberry check, a favourite style. The women, the Daily Mail wrote recently in a characteristic burst of maidenly distaste, “pull their shoddily dyed hair back in that ultra-tight bun known as a ‘council-house facelift’, wear skirts too short for their mottled blue thighs, and expose too much of their distressingly flabby midriffs”.

Wow. So at least it’s not derogatory or anything! Apparently this was Word of the Year in 2004, but has more recently come to the forefront as a word that is so oft-used deprecatingly that it’s started talk of the return of classist Britain. In the US, there’s an equally endearing term–“wigger”– for these same folk who appropriate parts of hip-hop culture and parts from their own backgrounds to create some amalgam thereof. Or is it just “white trash?” Either way, I think the following photo (sourced from Wikipedia article) is really excellent at a visual description

One of the cars at the GLC Spectacular event to publicise Goldie Looking Chain's single release.

 

Got to find some of my British friends for some more perspective…
Update: I know, I know you were thinking that a link to a good article defending Chavs is of the order. Sure enough, I’ve found it in the Times Online, and I think it’s great.

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