Geoffrey the Sodslopper lived in what is now Shropshire on the Welsh border. He was born shortly before the Statute of Merton was agreed between Henry III and the barons of England in 1235. He never realised that this statute considered the first English statute and became the basis for English common law.
The Statute of Merton allowed the Lord of the Manor to enclose common land and it also set out how manorial lords could assert rights over waste land. This was all about rights and ownership. Geoffrey never really appreciated that it allowed his mother to bequeath her land to him when she died, even thought his father was long since dead. He was only 16 at the time and had bigger things on his mind.
Geoffrey soon got bored with farming and took to spending long periods of time leaning on his equipment and thinking. He thought about many things, but what he eventually realised was that the English language was very limiting. While he admitted that it stole many words from other languages, and was a bit a cobbled together form of communication, he noticed that it very rarely included new words – totally new words. Geoffrey took upon himself to invent words.
The local people of his village Titley-on-the-Wrash tolerated the young man’s eccentricities. Many of them wished that he would find a good woman and settle his mind to the job of farming (or sodslopping as Geoffrey insisted on calling it.). He didn’t. Some of the words he came up with are listed below. He was unaware that Chuntage was an actual village in Lincolnshire, whose residents, on hearing his definition, reluctantly agreed it was probably not too far from the truth. It later became a slang word for a large chin area and the original meaning was lost in the mists of history, however it is my pleasure to reacquaint you with its true meaning.
Geoffrey’s first five words were:
Chuntage – a period of time so boring that it is physically painful.
Muttocks! – an all-purpose, all-encompassing swearword.
Twattled – to be ignored by your friends and acquaintances after doing something very silly.
Foddybucked – a feeling of general unwellness and lethargy.
Crummergunt – a person or object that is a complete waste of space with no redeeming features.
Eventually the village head, Stephen the Long-Suffering, took Geoffrey to one side and had a quiet word with him. Geoffrey always insisted his words were used when speaking to him and it is alleged that Stephen said:
‘Muttocks! Geoffrey. Talking to you is complete Chuntage. It makes one feel quite foddybucked. You’re becoming a real crummergunt and in danger of being twattled by the whole village.’
Geoffrey took this to heart and retreated to his farm where it is alleged he invented a whole new language before his untimely death at the hands of King Henry III soldiers. They passed through on their way to Wales to subdue the locals there. When they accosted him in his fields, they asked who he was and what he was doing. He wasn’t used top company and told them, in his own language, that he was, in fact English. They couldn’t understand him and he refused to speak English, so they decided he must be a Welsh spy and promptly executed him on the spot. His language died with him – and that was probably a good thing according to the inhabitants of Titley-on-the-Wrash.
This is an extract from The Complete Dregs of History, available at this site