How historical fiction chronicles linguistic change, or What the hell is an air-port?
Here are two short passages, about twenty pages apart, from the closing chapters of Black Out, set in 1944 and 1948 and the first of John Lawton's Troy novels:
"`And where would I land?'
"`West London. There's a new airfield under construction on the far side of Houndslow. They call it Heath Row.'"and
"Heathrow was referred to as an air-port. Troy presumed that this fiction was in some way meant to distinguish it from such places as Croydon which had always been called an aerodrome or Brize Norton which remained an airfield."Have you ever thought how odd it is that the word port should be applied to a place where no harbor or ships are to be found? I had not until I read the passage in Lawton.
(Heath Row as two words in the first use, one in the second is a nice touch, too. Presumably this reflects the process by which two words, expressing distinct ideas, fuse with increasing use and become a compound word to express a new idea. Either that, or it's one hell of a thought-provoking typographical error.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2013