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Education, lifestyle, language and somewhere in here, trains in Georgia

Simon Dunkley <simon_dunkley@...>
 

Conrad,

  I believe you are receiving quite an education on American RRs.
Yes, and very quickly.
Had picked up an amount already, but this information is like gold dust.
   If kaolin had been found along the WS it would still be going today. There is a little 9 mile RR, the Sandersville, that serves several kaolin mines and its owners are multi-millionaires. Kaolin is a clay that is used in a large number of different products.
Large parts of Cornwall sit on top of kaolin, called China Clay over here. Generally it is still rail served, and aside from tourism, just about the only industry left in that part of The Isles.

   Does the U.K. have anything like those valuation records? I supposed there are detailed engineering records and maps?
Yes. Some were kept, some were lost, some were burned on purpose, and some were the victims of bombs during WWII. It depends on where they were, and who was there, etc - a bit like Baldwin's loco drawings. So many locos, so few drawings left.
A lot is stored at the National Railway Museum in York (name like that, it sounds American - we usually use "Royal" instead of "National"!) but cataloging is a slow process.
Quite a lot more is in the hands of private collectors who delight in hoarding it for themselves. Yes, we get that here, too.

Bob,

Someone (Mark Twain?) once said that the US and England were two nations divided by a common language.

Oh, if only it were that simple.
I could take you to places in England where no one except the locals understands a word being said. I could take one of those locals maybe 200 miles, and he and the locals that he views as strangers may as well be speaking a foreign language from another continent.
Yet, I could take someone from deep in a remote valley in the Carolinas back in time and place to England, circa 1600, and everyone would assume from his accent that he was probably a friend of Shakepeare, but they would understand virtually every word he said. (Unless he said words like television, internet, steam locomotive, etc!)
You might have to flatten the vowels a bit, but around Birmingham, England, they still say, "You'll," for you all (pronounce "yowl" to rhyme with jowl and vowel) which is not far off from "Y'all," which you might well hear spoken in Birmingham, Alabama, from what I understand, or at least in neighbouring states.
There is an old Roman road, Watling Street, which runs from Dover to North Wales. It formed the effective boundary between the English and Danes during the tenth century, and as such became a pronounced linguistic frontier. So much so that even today, if you visit some of the villages on that road in Northamptonshire, the old people can tell you if someone was born to the southwest or northeast of the road (now called the rather more boring A5) based solely on their accent, particularly how they sound out their vowels and Rs. There is also, a few miles south of where I now live but a few miles north of where I was born and grew up, a river (the River Welland) which marks another linguistic frontier, between the Norse-influenced "hard a" (a as in bat when saying "bath" or "grass") and the Saxon-inclined "soft a" (a as in bar when saying "bath" or "grass"). People still think that one of them is correct and the other not so, depending on where they grew up, but the truth is, it doesn't matter. Soft a is associated with better-off people, too, by the way.

I like Mark Twain: there was an insightful man with great sense of wit. I believe, though, that the quote is from an Irishman who called himself a Britisher (the term has geographical as well as political meanings), GB Shaw. Now there was a man with a brain. And a certain degree of rudeness at times.

I could talk about British trains, but I find historical linguistics more interesting sometimes.

Thanks for all the info, again - it is really useful background stuff, and also it's nice to know that you all think pretty much the same way as we do about scandals such as Enron, banking, politicians, etc!

Simon