up the albion!

From the "Up the Albion" Facebook page
The comments on the last post mostly cent{er/re} around uses of up as a verb...which led me to recall one of my first encounters with a BrE sense up. (This one a preposition.)

It was on the back of a bus, and it said: UP THE ALBION!

Now, the Albion is Brighton and Hove Albion, also known as the Seagulls, the local (BrE) football club / (AmE) soccer team, so I was puzzled as to why the local bus company would want to say something rude about the local team. You see, in AmE I would have to say up with the Albion (reminding me of a slogan from my childhood, Up with People). Without the with, I could only presume that I should interpret it as I interpret Up yours, which is a rude thing to say wherever you are.

Better Half says that Up the Albion! is a kind of cheer that one used to hear on the terraces, but these days one is more likely to hear You are going home in a fucking ambulance! (he sang that, but I can't figure out how to give you a sense of the rhythm) or some of the chants available on this website. (I'm sending you to the Albion page, but there are lots more on that site for other clubs too. For an intro to football chants, see also this BBC site.) Terraces in this sense means steps or tiers where people stand to watch the (BrE) match/(AmE) game. They're kind of like (AmE) bleachers, except that they're for standing, rather than sitting. Terraces are becoming a thing of the past (whereas increasingly abusive football chants are not), because of safety concerns, following a number of horrible incidents in the 1980s (including and especially the Hillsborough disaster). New stadiums have seating throughout.

Of course, there are other ways in which up is used differently in AmE and BrE, but they'll have to wait until I haven't got so much marking/grading to do.


  1. Heh. I laughed out loud a little when I read, "(whereas increasingly abusive football chants are not)."

  2. I am reminded of an American activity I'm associated with that divides itself into multiple sections, among them the East, West, and Middle. The "war cry" of the last named is "Up the Middle!" (intentionally hilarious, to Americans at least).

  3. Irish-Americans (in which group I am included) have been saying "Up the Irish!" for a long time, probably since the migrations started in earnest after the Black '49. So I think that "up the <nationality>" in a positive sense is good AmE, though of course other short directives involving "up" are definitely negative.

  4. WHat is the "ups" as in "ANd I want to give a big ups to my parents"? It is respectful, bur what does it comefrom "be upstanding"?

  5. My DC United supporters group (not really a "firm") sings "You are going home in a fucking ambulance" to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic ("Mine eyes have seen the glory..."). Was that the rhythm your Better Half demonstrated?

    flashgordonnz, I think that use of "ups" comes from "thumbs up". It's a shortening similar to "props" and if I'm not mistaken comes from the same community. (I'm not sure what "props" is a shortening of though; "proper respect" is my best guess.)

  6. I'm Irish-American, but I've never heard 'Up the Irish'. There are some hits via Google, but they're hard to separate from things like "sail up the Irish sea" and the like. I wonder if Up the Irish is better known in places with more recent Irish immigration (Boston, NYC) than elsewhere?

    BH wasn't singing the ambulance chant to the Battle Hymn of the Republic tune. It wasn't any tune I recognised. If you're singing it to the BHotR tune, RS, I presume you have a longer set of lyrics?

  7. No no no no no! The Albion is a mythical, wonderful place full of Libertines and park benches and cigarettes! Honestly, it is!

    Um, okay. Let me explain. There was The Libertines, a band. Their frontmen Pete Doherty and Carl Barat had a romantic, mythical vision of Albion and Arcadia, where freedom reigned and poets lived, blahblahblah. Of course it didn't quite work out like that, since the band split and Peter is still in the throes of an addiction to crack, but still, it's a nice vision and one which Libertines fans get quite carried away with. The Libs also have a song called Albion - also recorded by Peter's new band, Babyshambles. The lyrics are here.

    I can't think of anything else when I hear 'Albion'. It is one of the best parts of being a Libs fan :)

  8. Let's not give the addled Mr Doherty too much credit... Albion is an ancient name for Britain/England, and has been used by poets to refer to this island for centuries. Several football clubs use the name.

  9. You didn't recognise "Battle Hymn of the Republic"? Maybe you recognise it with these lyrics:

    He jumped from 30 000 feet without a parachute
    He jumped from 30 000 feet without a parachute
    He jumped from 30 000 feet without a parachute, and he ain't gonna jump no moooore...

    Or alternatively John Brown's body, for the more traditionally minded. But no, not the "f*ing ambulance" tune I'm familiar with.

  10. Hi rick, thanks for that.

    Funny that thumbs up is okay in English speaking countries, but I understand you'll end up in hospital if you give an Italian the thumbs up! Okay that's not linguistical, but geatures are a form of communication, too!

  11. I'm surprised that nobody has yet mentioned the version of this slogan that it used by fans of the London team Arsenal. See, for instance, this fanzine.

    (Then again, perhaps someone has and it was censored.)

  12. We don't have a full set of lyrics for the BHotR, we just repeat the line 3 times followed by "United marches on". We do have full lyrics for a chant sung to My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, but I'll forbear.

  13. you obviously aren't a metal fan: this is similar to the universal iron maiden cheer: up the irons!

    not surprising from a british band, but the term is international.

  14. To my BrE ear, the phrase "up yours" is a one-off, and not connected to the generic form "up [noun]", so the confusion would never occur.

    As pointed out by @Taversham on Twitter, it's a different grammatical construction: "up theirs" might sound obscene (although I can't think of an example in the 3rd person like that) but "up them" doesn't.

    Although now you've put the connection in my head, I'll probably start noticing the alternative meaning everywhere...

  15. My mother consistently lied about her age, but sometime after her death I realised that she'd been a little girl in the suffragette era. No doubt this explains why whenever female a contestant triumphed in a radio or TV quiz show she'd exclaim in a pleased but un-agitated manner 'Up the women!'.

  16. In "Up the Albion" etc perhaps confusion arises over whether "up" is a preposition or an adverb. Surely it is an adverb, giving the meaning "upwards", as in "onwards and upwards".

  17. Adverbs don't take noun objects, though. Prepositions or verbs do, so there remains the question of how it comes to take a noun phrase.

    This looks like other BrE cheers like 'Come on the Albion' or 'Go the Girl Guides', where the noun phrase isn't an object, but more of a vocative. (But it doesn't really act like a vocative either in terms of the intonation.)

    But since the other kinds of cheers of this pattern are verb-based (you don't get adverbial things like 'Fiercely the Albion' or 'Upwards the Albion', that I've seen), I tend to see 'up' as a verb here. But even the verb-based ones don't act like normal verbs. One wouldn't report the situation as 'The Albion really came on' or 'We went the Albion'.

    To get a bit technical about it, this seems to be a case where a construction grammar would explain the data better than a traditional phrase-structure grammar. But explaining what I mean by that requires far more time than I have now and far more interest than anybody reading probably has.

  18. It is definitely not a verb. The speaker has in mind "upwards [my team]". I can assure you of this as someone who has been part of many an "Up the Hammers" chant. Nothing to do with "up yours" etc, although that is not a verb either, but a preposition with verb understood or deleted.

  19. Adverbs may 'not take noun objects' exactly but they do collocate with nouns as in 'boldly the Blues' or 'handsomely, men'. It is short for 'play boldly, move upwards, lower it handsomely' etc.

  20. Adverbs don't take noun objects, though.

    Perhaps they do in military orders, or in paraphrases of military orders.

    Forward the Blues!
    Steady the Buffs!

    Perhaps Up the whatever! is a blend of this structure and the meaning of the Up/Down with whatever! formula

    This pair with figurative senses of up and down is a special case of the usually literal PREPOSITIONAL ADVERB OF PLACE MOVEMENT with the whatever!.

    Off with his head!
    Down with the blinds!
    Out with you wallet!
    In with the detergent!

    Even with other adverbials the structure delivers the message if the meaning of the non-existent verb is sufficiently obvious.

    Gently with that vase!
    More cheerfully with the first aria!

  21. Possible similar to up+SUBJECT is away+SUBJECT.

    OK, Away dull care! may involve a vocative. But surely the Geordie (Newcastle) cry Away the lads! is much the same as Up the lads!.

  22. No, I'm interested, especially in the way you are approaching it, as I've said on Twitter. I wonder how many BrE football fans would think the AmE way? What about "Up, Guards and at 'em!", cited by OED as an example of "up" as an adverb?

  23. The BrE comments by Crosbie and Collins seem to agree with my English mindset, rather than the AmE one.

  24. Anyone of Irish or British descent that understands "Up the (blank)"

    Does the phrase require "the" in it?

    Could you use "Up Arsenal" as opposed to "Up the Arse" or "Up Ireland" instead of "Up the Irish"

  25. A football fan would know better than I do, but googling 'up arsenal' doesn't immediately lead to cheering-type phrases (just things like 'wind-up Arsenal'), whereas 'up the Arsenal' does (but it also leads to some bad puns).


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AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)