COBBLER–a word that libels the craftsman

From the “FOOTWEAR REPAIRER”, VOL. 2:  no  7.  London  April  1948

” + + NEWS ITEM + BRISTOL AND PLYMOUTH ASSOCIATIONS OF BTA HAVE SENT RESOLUTIONS TO WESTERN D.C. URGING COUNCIL TO ASK NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS AND ALL NEWSPAPERS EDITORS TO STOP USING THE OFFENSIVE WORD “COBBLER” IN THE PRESS + +

A MORAL libel, or slander, as the case may be, is issued or  committed every time the plural noun”cobblers” is used to describe that skilful craftsmen who literally keep the nation on its feet.

I use the term “moral libel” because it is not an actionable libel. It has been held by the courts that you cannot libel a class.  You may say with impunity, for example, that all politicians are rogues, but you would be a foolish man indeed if you said Mr. BLANK, who is a politician , is a rogue, for Mr. BLANK would doubtless haul you up before one of His Majesty’s judges, who would in due process of law, order you to pay Mr. BLANK a sum of money calculated to compensate him for the injury to his reputation.

You cannot libel a class, ah ! —but you can libel an individual, as we all know and it would not surprise me the least if one of these days a shoe maker sought redress in the courts because he had been described  as a cobbler by the newspaper.

WHAT THE DICTIONARIES SAY

-OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY:  Cobbler:  One who mends clumsily;  a mere botcher.

Cobble :  A clumsy mending.

– CONCISE  ENGLISH DICTIONARY: Cobble : to botch,  to make do clumsily or unhandily,

Cobbler :  A mender of boots and shoes;  a clumsy workman.

-UNIVERSAL ENGLISH DICTIONARY : Cobble :  To do lumpy work,  To mend or make, sew, in a rough,  clumsy manner.

Cobbler :  One who mends boots and shoes as a trade;  (facetious) bootmaker,  especially one in a small way of business;  clumsy, bad workman of any kind.

What a hopeless task indeed confronts our intrepid reformer who would root out a word immortalized in saga and song, literature and legend.

The origin of “cobbler” is unknown. The earliest reference I can trace is from the writings of Thomas Langley (1362),  The monk-poet of Norfolk, who ups with his quill and outs with “Clement  be  cobelere  cast off his cloke,”   a meaningless piece of alliteration that has somehow wandered into the Oxford English Dictionary.  Of course there were shoe repairers thousands of years before friend Clement cast off his cloke,  but whether they were branded as cobblers will never be known.

Advertisements

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Raymond on March 2, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Nice Nasser, real nice. I hope you are well sir. Raymond

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: