H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
service or pupil teachers examinations go into a thing called the remove, which is less a class than a state of mind. Here are the Brahmins, the contemplative Olympians, the prefects, the lab. monitors. The term public elementary school is recent. It was invented when the old board school system was abolished about 1906. But the term standard is ancient. The principal of an English public (i. e., private) school is a head-master or head-mistress, but in a council school he or she may be a principal. The lower pedagogues used to be ushers, but are now assistant masters (or mistresses). The titular head of a university is a chancellor or rector.7 He is always some eminent public man, and a vice-chancellor or vice-rector performs his duties. The head of a mere college may be a president, principal, master, warden, rector, dean or provost.
At the universities the students are not divided into freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, as with us, but are simply first-year-men, second-year-men, and so on, though a first-year-man is sometimes a fresher. Such distinctions, however, are not as important in England as in America; members of the university (they are called members, not students) do not flock together according to seniority, and there is no regulation forbidding an upper classman, or even a graduate, to be polite to a student just entered. An English university man does not study; he reads. He knows nothing of frats, class-days, senior-proms and such things; save at Cambridge and Dublin he does not even speak of a commencement. On the other hand his daily speech is full of terms unintelligible to an American student, for example, wrangler, tripos, head, pass-degree and don.
The upkeep of council-schools in England comes out of the rates, which are local taxes levied upon householders. For that reason an English municipal taxpayer is called a ratepayer. The functionaries who collect and spend money are not office-holders, but public-servants. The head of the local police is not a chief of police, but a chief constable. The fire department is the fire brigade. The
Note 7. This title has been borrowed by some of the American universities, e. g., Chancellor Day of Syracuse. But the usual title remains president. On the Continent it is rector. [back]