Africa starts at Calais. (British expression.) Wogs/ Niggers begin at Calais

Nunty

Senior Member
Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
Just a little precision: Unlike its British meaning, in the US that very offensive word refers specifically to black people.
 
  • audiolaik

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Precisely because it is the nearest part of Europe from which the UK traditionally considers itself separate. The famous headline a few years ago - 'Europe cut off by fog' - implyied that the most important place was the UK, Euroipe being secondary.
    Has it got something to do with the supporters of UK isolationism?
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    In any case, the word "nigger" in British English is only used to describe people of black origin, not foreigners in general.
    While that is true, the original quotation is a little strange as I had always heard it used with 'blacks' or 'wogs' instead of 'niggers' and that did not specifically refer to skin colour but rather to foreigners in general.
     

    Namarne

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hello.
    I think this sentence is similar, from a supposed British point of view, to this other sentence, from a supposed European point of view: Africa begins at the Pyrenees.
    (Both sentences being derogatory to African people, as to the people of the South of Europe.)
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm not sure that anyone has yet expressly made the critical point that Calais (which is in France) is the nearest town on the continent of Europe (or on any other continent, or in any foreign land) to the British and Irish Isles.

    Just a little precision: Unlike its British meaning, in the US that very offensive word refers specifically to black people.
    The word refers to black people in Britain too. It's just that in the (bad taste and potentially offensive) joke, French people (who are perhaps in general exposed to more sunshine, and tend to be of more Mediterranean complexion than white Brits, and certainly speak a foreign and incomprehensible language and have foreign and incomprehensible habits) are classified as black people. As Porteno says, I have heard Wogs begin at Calais, not Niggers begin of Calais. Niggers usually refers to people of African extraction, whereas wogs is more general, including people of South Asian extraction.
     
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    Lis48

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The phrase originated when a Member of Parliament in 1945 stood up and accused Winston Churchill of believing that "Wogs start in Calais" i.e. of being europhobic and isolationist. Until the 1950s, wog and nigger were acceptable words in BE. The saying then became "Niggers start in Calais" to make the saying even more obviously untrue, and is used in BE today to criticise supporters of UK isolationism. It isn´t intended to be derogatory towards black people but quite the opposite, to be derogatory towards racists for believing such a stupid statement.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I've never heard "niggers begin at Calais", though I have heard "wogs begin at Calais". Google seems to agree: 13 hits for "niggers begin at Calais", 1000+ for "wogs begin at Calais".

    If one asked me, I would say that the phrase must convey negative feelings towards black people; that's all I can infer.
    As others have suggested, it implies negative feelings towards all foreigners.

    I think you need to understand the expression in two stages.

    Whatever its precise derivation, "wog" has, to me at least, strong connotations of British imperialism/colonialism. It was originally used to refer to people with darker skin than the average Englishman, who were (in the eyes of said average Englishman) by definition inferior/untrustworthy.

    "Wogs begin at Calais" is a broadening of that opinion: the suggestion is that not only are foreigners with darker skins inferior, but all foreigners are inferior. The parliamentary taunt Lis48 mentions would have worked well in 1945, when "wog" was still an acceptable term. It wouldn't work as a joke now. But "the wogs-begin-at-Calais mentality" is still sometimes used to describe an old-fashioned xenophobic view of the world.

    I do sometimes hear "wog" used to mean "foreigner". But not by anyone I'd be proud to call a friend.

    I never hear "nigger".
     
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    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    "Until the 1950s, wog and nigger were acceptable words in BE.".

    I am not so sure. I remember vividly being told in no uncertain terms when I commented about seeing a black man while holidaying on the Isle of Arran in 1941, that such terms were not appropriate, and were most certainly never to be used.
     
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    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    "Until the 1950s, wog and nigger were acceptable words in BE.".

    I am not so sure. I remember vividly being told in no uncertain terms when I commented about seeing a black man while holidaying on the Isle of Arran in 1941, that such terms were not appropriate, and were most certainly never to be used.
    Several things surprise me there. First a black man on the Isle of Arran in 1941! You were on holiday then? If like me then, you were very young, I'm surprised you even knew the word wog, especially if you hail from Canada, or perhaps you didn't then.

    But I would agree that both words were in common usage in BE throughout the 50s and possibly even later until they became 'politically incorrect' through the influence of AE.
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    Not at all, it's just the traditional British view of ourselves.
    I'm surprised. The stereotypical British person --besides being extremely polite, having an ironic sense of humour and wearing a bowler hat or hideous shoes (ladies)-- is more cosmopolitan that any other European, or any other westerner for that matter. It's the image we still hold of the British, especially the English.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    [I would like to thank everyone who responded to my side question concerning Calais. I have found the whole discussion very interesting.]
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Porteno, the West Indian I had come across was at university in Glasgow, and on a summer job. I was around 12 at the time, and at school in Glasgow. The university had always had a minimal quota for "colonials", I believe, and certainly they were not uncommon in the streets during the war. However, by late I946, when I went into the army, there were also "colonials", around there as well, and my class at university in '48 had several West Indians, as did the earlier classes. I also remember that there were quite a number of West Indians serving in the forces, and one of my oldest friends, dead now I am afraid, was air crew through most of the war. Niggers did not belong in our vocabulary!
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I'm surprised. The stereotypical British person --besides being extremely polite, having an ironic sense of humour and wearing a bowler hat or hideous shoes (ladies)-- is more cosmopolitan that any other European, or any other westerner for that matter. It's the image we still hold of the British, especially the English.
    Perhaps things have changed in the 40-odd years I haven't lived in the UK but in my days it was true that, outwardly, your description is pretty accurate and I know many of my frineds in other countries have been pleasnatly surprised about how well they were treated and how helpful everybody was to them. However, inside, the British have, perhaps had, a great feeling of superiority over all other nations and races. Probably this was the fallout from the greatness of the British Empire, the Industrial Revolution, heroic wars, you name it. To their credit they never showed this aspect to foreigners but privately dismissed them all generally as 'wops', wogs,' 'krauts', aytyes, 'dagos', to mention but a few. Hence the niggers began at Calais which was the first point (only 20-odd miles from Dover) at which you were likely to come in touch with them.
     

    Mr Punch

    Member
    England, British English
    Precisely because it is the nearest part of Europe from which the UK traditionally considers itself separate. The famous headline a few years ago - 'Europe cut off by fog' - implyied that the most important place was the UK, Euroipe being secondary.
    Interesting. While the anti-Europe attitude is common (and perhaps getting more so) I suspect you could easily find more pertinent examples in the gutter press. Why and with whom is this example famous?

    I don't even really see your inferences in this example to be honest.

    The phrase originated when a Member of Parliament in 1945 stood up and accused Winston Churchill of believing that "Wogs start in Calais" i.e. of being europhobic and isolationist. Until the 1950s, wog and nigger were acceptable words in BE. The saying then became "Niggers start in Calais" to make the saying even more obviously untrue, and is used in BE today to criticise supporters of UK isolationism. It isn´t intended to be derogatory towards black people but quite the opposite, to be derogatory towards racists for believing such a stupid statement.
    This is an excellent summation. However, in this wonderful world of post-ironic-post-modernism (!) I've heard the phrase being used seriously in a racist manner also. The phenomenally popular satirical puppet show 'Spitting Image' used it in a skit, attributing it to a conversation between Thatcher and Tebbit if I remember rightly, and repeated a version on a map of the world in their book in the mid-80s, and around that time I remember first hearing people using as a racist joke.

    And to the poster who suggested that in the US (as distinct in some way from the UK) the word 'nigger' is extremely offensive, of course, it is in the UK too. That doesn't stop some segments of society in both countries from using it however, or change the fact that until the 50s the word was fairly common currency in many parts of both countries (probably later in some parts of the States).

    Of course, Gasman is correct in saying it (or 'wog') wasn't really acceptable in polite society, it was still very common.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Porteño
    Precisely because it is the nearest part of Europe from which the UK traditionally considers itself separate. The famous headline a few years ago - 'Europe cut off by fog' - implyied that the most important place was the UK, Euroipe being secondary.
    This was a quote from Mr. Punch
    Interesting. While the anti-Europe attitude is common (and perhaps getting more so) I suspect you could easily find more pertinent examples in the gutter press. Why and with whom is this example famous?

    I don't even really see your inferences in this example to be honest.

    I don't remember now whether it was in a newspaper or in a BBC newscast but the obvious inconsistency was that Europe being a continent was 'cut off' from the UK (a not very large island) by fog. This to my mind clearly implied the greater importance of the UK over Europe. And mind you, this was a long time before the UK became involved in the EU, so there were no political overtones.
     

    Mr Punch

    Member
    England, British English
    I don't remember now whether it was in a newspaper or in a BBC newscast but the obvious inconsistency was that Europe being a continent was 'cut off' from the UK (a not very large island) by fog. This to my mind clearly implied the greater importance of the UK over Europe. And mind you, this was a long time before the UK became involved in the EU, so there were no political overtones.
    Ah, I think that's a bit oversensitive. Like I say, I agree the issue is there, but also think that 'Europe' is used in standard British English synonymously with 'the Continent' or 'mainland Europe'. To me this doesn't imply any kind of superiority at all, merely geographical convention and linguistic convenience: the newspaper would have had to have had a longer headline for either of my options.

    On a personal level, I think of myself as English first, then British, then European. These are semantic distinctions which naturally are mutually indivisible from some cultural mindset. From a negative point of view it could easily engender the viewpoint satirized in the thread subject's statement, but to me there is no qualitative judgment, purely an objective, factual one.

    Neither does your headline point have any obvious overtones of implied superiority. For that matter, you still haven't said how this headline is 'famous' and with who...
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Not at all, it's just the traditional British view of ourselves.
    Hmm ... It's the traditional view of a certain type of Briton. The expression is more likely to be used by those who wish Britain to loosen its ties with the EU. If such a person used the expression in my presence, I wouldn't take it as a literal reference to Black people; I would take it to mean that the speaker perceived insuperable differences between "the continental way of doing things" and "the British way of doing things". I would expect the speaker to condemn the former with words such as "bureaucratic" and "socialist" and to vaunt British "common sense" and "pragmatism".
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    The implication of the phrase is that once you leave the British Isles you are amongst "uncivilized" people.
    As it stands, the expression "niggers begin at Calais" is extremely xenophobic. It's intentionally offensive to all foreigners, whereas the specific offense to people with darker skin is almost incidental (I mean it's a casual, unthinking use of the word nigger).
    The fact that the expression (or something similar) may have been used ironically by a member of Parliament - apparently with the intention of expressing his opinion that mainland Europeans were not as repulsive as other foreigners - does not really render it less offensive.
    Typical nonsensical racism, especially these days given the huge ethnic diversity the UK currently enjoys.
     

    Lis48

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The fact that the expression (or something similar) may have been used ironically by a member of Parliament - apparently with the intention of expressing his opinion that mainland Europeans were not as repulsive as other foreigners - does not really render it less offensive.
    quote]
    I don´t think the intention ever was to suggest mainland Europeans were less repulsive than other foreigners. It was said by George Wigg a Labour MP to satirise the isolationist attitude of the Conservatives in post war years, particularly Churchill, to foreigners in general. The statement was reported in the newspapers and made the British people laugh uncomfortably at the time, as it described a section of the population who truly believed that all non-British persons in the world were "a bunch of bloody wogs." An attitude stemming from the colonial days of the British Empire, but one that clearly was not logical. Nigger and wog were in 1945 acceptable words to use and the statement made people examine for the first real time in public how racist some of their fellow Englishmen really were. Today I think we look back at the statement as being the fore-runner of the modern anti-racist campaign and as being one of the first attacks on racism even if the vocabulary is not acceptable today.
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    The fact that the expression (or something similar) may have been used ironically by a member of Parliament - apparently with the intention of expressing his opinion that mainland Europeans were not as repulsive as other foreigners - does not really render it less offensive.
    quote]
    I don´t think the intention ever was to suggest mainland Europeans were less repulsive than other foreigners. It was said by George Wigg a Labour MP to satirise the isolationist attitude of the Conservatives in post war years, particularly Churchill, to foreigners in general. The statement was reported in the newspapers and made the British people laugh uncomfortably at the time, as it described a section of the population who truly believed that all non-British persons in the world were "a bunch of bloody wogs." An attitude stemming from the colonial days of the British Empire, but one that clearly was not logical. Nigger and wog were in 1945 acceptable words to use and the statement made people examine for the first real time in public how racist some of their fellow Englishmen really were. Today I think we look back at the statement as being the fore-runner of the modern anti-racist campaign and as being one of the first attacks on racism even if the vocabulary is not acceptable today.
    Yes. I see that in the full context, it's clear that Wigg did not use the term "wog" casually and was in fact satirizing its usage. The debate was regarding the Burmese:
    "The Honourable Gentleman and his friends think they are all 'wogs'. Indeed, the Right Honourable Member for Woodford thinks that the 'wogs' begin at Calais."
    This context was not made clear in the previous posts.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Passing over the offensive word, could someone explain why Calais? Is it because it is the point of entry to Europe, or the point of departure for England? Or some other thing?
    The sentiment seems to have a tinge of Nordicism.

    It's interesting what several posters have said, that the sentence was originally satirical. Unfortunately, I'm a little doubtful that it was always used satirically since then.

    The sentiment, of course, is considerably older than the forties.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thank you, mods, for combining audiolaik's thread with the earlier one started by James Brandon. I've enjoyed reading the earlier part.

    That said, and noting that someone found "Africa begins at Calais" in the Guardian, I can't say I've ever come across the "Africa" variant myself. It sounds like the bowdlerised version...
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    The feeling of "not being European" is not only British. At a true level (daily normal life) in Spain it is difficult to feel European for the same reasons: different habits, different languages, etc. We may just be more interested in that "being European" because we saw the rest as superiors economically, so I would understand if some British, for example, were not as interested.

    And the saying, even if considered racist, is a bit true: in the south of Europe we have more things in common with our southern neighbours than those in the North of Europe (physical appearance, family ties...), even if we are losing some of our traditions, included the good ones.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    The fact that the expression (or something similar) may have been used ironically by a member of Parliament - apparently with the intention of expressing his opinion that mainland Europeans were not as repulsive as other foreigners - does not really render it less offensive.
    quote]
    I don´t think the intention ever was to suggest mainland Europeans were less repulsive than other foreigners. It was said by George Wigg a Labour MP to satirise the isolationist attitude of the Conservatives in post war years, particularly Churchill, to foreigners in general. The statement was reported in the newspapers and made the British people laugh uncomfortably at the time, as it described a section of the population who truly believed that all non-British persons in the world were "a bunch of bloody wogs." An attitude stemming from the colonial days of the British Empire, but one that clearly was not logical. Nigger and wog were in 1945 acceptable words to use and the statement made people examine for the first real time in public how racist some of their fellow Englishmen really were. Today I think we look back at the statement as being the fore-runner of the modern anti-racist campaign and as being one of the first attacks on racism even if the vocabulary is not acceptable today.
    To be quite honest with you, I think you're trying to read too much into this. I don't believe for a single moment that in 1945 anybody seriously thought about racist attitudes, they were much to busy ending a war and starting life anew. In this sense, most of the contributors to this thread are much too young to have any idea of how people thought in those days. You have to consider that we had just been through more than five years of trial and tribulation and were emerging victorious from a bloody war. The Empire was still strong and my school atlas still showed something like one-third of the world coloured pink to denote British colonies and possessions. Few of the population had ever had any direct contact with foreigners who were generally regarded as suspicious characters. Much the same kind of xenophobia was common all over the world. That's what made it so much easier for leaders to take their people to war. It's very important to remember these factors when discussing expression like this one.

    Fortunately. since those days, every Tom, Dick and Harry hops on to a plane and flies to the other side of the world in a wink and the UK has become a multi-ethnic nation. The result has been an enormous change in the way people think and more especially regard foreigners and people of other ethnic origins. In this light, such an expression seems utterly ridiculous, almost incomprehensible - How could we have ever thought like that?
     

    funnyhat

    Senior Member
    American English
    The saying "Africa begins at the Pyrenees" specifically refers to Spain's relative backwardness at the grand scale of European history from 1700 on. In the 1500's Spain was the most advanced European country thanks to its New World plunder. It and Portugal were the pioneers in European overseas colonialization, by a century. Cervantes pioneered the modern novel. Spanish steel was Europe's finest. But in the middle 1600's, France and England caught up as they created their own overseas colonial empires. Meanwhile, Spain was mired in an extreme form of Roman Catholic conservatism (which lasted until the 1900's), unlike France, another Roman Catholic country.
    Actually, the perception of Spain as a backward society existed even during the height of the country's power. Spain in the 1500s was certainly wealthy (thanks to its gold and silver from the New World), but it was not "advanced" in the sense of being a center of technological innovation or creative thought. In fact, historians often argue that this easy source of material wealth discouraged Spain's government from modernizing its economy. Probably not surprisingly, Protestants regarded Spain (the leading champion of Catholicism during this time) as a particularly barbaric society, and this stereotype later spread to other areas as well.
     

    El escoces

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    But I would agree that both words were in common usage in BE throughout the 50s and possibly even later until they became 'politically incorrect' through the influence of AE.
    When I see people refer to "political correctness" in inverted commas, I take it that they are, at least to an extent, dismissive of the concept (granted, there are times when we all think political correctness has gone too far). But - unless I have misunderstood you - to suggest that, were it not for changng attitudes in the US, it might still be acceptable to call someone "wog" or "nigger" in Britain, is going too far for me. On this occasion, give me correctness any time.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Moderator note: This thread, pre- and post-merger, has rambled far beyond language questions, all for a good cause. Please try to avoid turning it into a free-wheeling conversation or debate about British or other cultures. It might be useful to read the thread topic questions before posting. [Posts #1 and #44.]
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    I had not realised all this was going on, on the back of an old Thread! I just wanted to say 2 things:-

    1 My original query was indeed about 'Africa starts at Calais' - a phrase I have indeed heard, albeit rarely and not recently. The ironic quotation of it in The Guardian as well as a web search illustrate the fact that the expression in question has existed - whether one agrees with the racist undertones or not!

    2 Regarding 'wogs etc', I think this contributor summed up the position very clearly and there is very little to be added: the idea is that foreigners start at Calais and that, in the main, they are inferior. Identifying the French coast with Africa - somewhere exotic and unappealing, implicitly here - is just a way of labouring the point.

    "Wogs begin at Calais" is a broadening of that opinion: the suggestion is that not only are foreigners with darker skins inferior, but all foreigners are inferior. The parliamentary taunt Lis48 mentions would have worked well in 1945, when "wog" was still an acceptable term. It wouldn't work as a joke now. But "the wogs-begin-at-Calais mentality" is still sometimes used to describe an old-fashioned xenophobic view of the world.

    James
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    the phrase is referred to as emblematic of old-fashioned British attitudes which, mercifully, have faded into disrepute and obscurity.
    Those who think wogs and related attitudes have faded into obscurity may be interested in this definition of porridge wogs from Arrsepedia.
    http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Porridge_Wogs
    as used, for example, in this article
    http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Number_1_Dress

    One could discuss till the cows come home whether the modern use of an old-fashioned word like wogs necessarily entails holding the attitude that went with that word, and whether those referred to can, should or do take offence.
     
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    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Those who think wogs and related attitudes have faded into obscurity may be interested in this definition of porridge wogs from Arrsepedia.
    http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Porridge_Wogs
    as used, for example, in this article
    http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Number_1_Dress

    One could discuss till the cows come home whether the modern use of an old-fashioned word like wogs necessarily entails holding the attitude that went with that word, and whether those referred to can, should or do take offence.
    I agree, however, I think if I were the object of such a description, I would not find it exactly endearing.
     

    Full Tilt Boogie

    Senior Member
    British English
    Obviously an old-fashioned expression which is not heard a lot today. I have heard it, but cannot quite remember whether it is "Africa starts at Calais" or "Africa begins at Calais"... [Whichever way, the meaning is the same, i.e. the Continent is full of barbarians, prejudices being what they are and/or were.] The expression is rarely used today and generally in a humorous way. If anyone knows where it originates, I would be interested to know. I have read on the web that A Hitler used it but I am sceptical: (a) I believe it is an English expression; (b) Hitler would have included himself and his fellow Germans among the 'savages'.

    Suggestions welcome
    To the best of my knowledge, it's an old colonial (i.e. from the days of the British Empire) saying and runs "Wogs begin at Calais.."
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Teddy,

    Had never heard 'porridge wogs' - from a linguistic standpoint, an interesting combination of racial prejudice against 'southern' races with anti-Scottish prejudice! It goes to show that racist inventiveness knows no bounds...

    No one is saying 'wogs' is not used any more - it would be like saying there is no longer any racial and racist prejudice in the UK, which would clearly be an over-optimistic assessment of race relations in Britain.

    What people were saying is that using such a word is no longer expected or deemed acceptable in polite conversatin, in the work-place, in the mainstream media, etc. It is frowned upon.

    Racial/racist and homophobic stereotyping, in the UK today, has replaced referrences to sex as the taboo area: in the Victorian era, I mean, it was fine to be a racist imperialist, but you did not talk about sex; now it is good to talk about sex (and get as much of it as possible), but one should never be seen to be a racist or anti-gay, at any rate in middle-class circles.

    And I am not saying that's a bad thing, by the way. Racial prejudice is not much fun overall, and sex is! :D
     

    Jean-Bernard Brisset

    New Member
    french - France
    This expression is quoted in Volume 2 page 87 of the excellent book "Pax Britannica" by James Morris, Folio Edition. I quote: ' The joke that 'niggers began at Calais' was not entirely a joke. Cloudy conceptions of Race and Heritage coloured the outlook of the British the moment they crossed the straits of Dover'.
    As a french I regret to say that this prejudice is not entirely obliterated from the british psyche. In Normandie, where we live, there is a trend among some british settlers to cluster and close their mind to french culture, including language. I must admit that it mostly concerns people with a low education background.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    I am not sure I am happy - or sad - that this Thread has taken on a life of its own, and I started it: it goes to show the idiomatic expression in question is alive and well, in spite of everything. J.-B. confirms he has come across it in a book and in real life - in Normandy, of all places.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    According to the Northern League leader in Italy, "Cairo begins at Rome." (The Northern League wants Northern Italy (north of Rome) to seceed from Italy, or something like that.) So this type of expression is fairly widespread, it seems, at least in Europe. Certainly for the Northern League, this is an expression of antagonismtowards central and Southern Italians/Italy. (Cairo being apparently bad).
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Wiki says:
    The saying, "The wogs begin at Calais" (implying that everyone who is not British is a wog), appears to date from the First World War but was popularised by George Wigg, Labour MP for Dudley, in 1949 when in a parliamentary debate concerning the Burmese, Wigg shouted at the Conservative benches, "The Honourable Gentleman and his friends think they are all 'wogs'. Indeed, the Right Honourable Member for Woodford [i.e., Winston Churchill] thinks that the 'wogs' begin at Calais."
    "The wogs start at Calais" was added to the article on 29 Mar 05; Wigg and Churchill were added on 16 Mar 06. (The year of the speech was originally listed as 1945, but was corrected to 1949 on 4 Oct 08.) The reference to WW I was added on 26 Mar 12.*

    What does the OED have to say about it?


    * Yes, I really have nothing better to do this evening than dig through the archived versions of Wiki articles. Why do you ask? :D
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    What does the OED have to say about it?
    It confirms George Wigg's statement (but has what appears to be a misprint):
    1949 G. Wigg in Hansard Commons 29 July 2846[sic] The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) thinks that the ‘wogs’ start at Calais.

    Wog is first recorded as:
    In quot. 1921 in pl. with the, as a nickname of the Indian Cavalry during the First World War (1914–18).
    1921 L. James Hist. King Edward's Horse xviii. 188 The King Edward's Horse called the Indian Cavalry ‘The Wogs’—which is the diminutive of ‘Golliwogs’,—a description that was very apt of these dark apparitions in khaki and tin-hats.

    From Wiki: King Edward's Horse (The King's Overseas Dominions Regiment) received that name in 1910. It was disbanded in 1924.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    And the whole phrase gets a mention and a gloss in the OED! (The the typo about the year reappears too.)
    wogs begin (also start) at Calais: used to express an attitude of insularity and hostility to foreigners attributed to the British (esp. the English).
    1949 G. Wigg in Hansard Commons 29 July 2846 The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) thinks that the ‘wogs’ start at Calais.
    1958 Times Lit. Suppl. 11 Apr. p. vi/3 We have travelled some distance from the days when Wogs began at Calais.
    1992 Times 8 Sept. (Life & Times section) 5/3 It is not only retired colonels and the Sun who believe wogs begin at Calais, after all.
    2008 New Statesman 5 May 21/2 ‘Wogs begin at Calais’ has returned with a vengeance.
     
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