I have to admit that I was a bit mystified when I read about this in the paper this morning. Luton, the town, ran an online poll to find the “Greatest Words Ever Spoken” with the results published today (although the poll still appears to be open). Apparently the winner would be inscribed on a wall of the passenger arrivals walkway in London Luton Airport.

Aside: Tell me, why is it called LONDON Luton Airport? Luton is almost the same distance from London, as Edinburgh is from Glasgow. Most odd, probably something to do with FAA regulations or something (CBATG).

It was with great interest that I read the article, pausing only to consider what I’d vote for as the “Greatest Words Ever Spoken”? How many did they want anyway? There are millions of the damned things, I’ve used 136 of them so far in this very post.*

How about HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS? It was good enough for Shakespeare. How about CUSPIDOR, a favourite of James Joyce. Or something a bit more accessible like FLIBBERTIGIBBET? Yes this would definitely be the way to go, welcoming arrivals to Luton… sorry, London Luton Airport with some words designed to get them thinking. You could even base the immigration laws on the words on the walls, a short quiz to be completed at the end of the corridor. Ooh the potential.

So imagine my disgust when I find out that the poll was actually concerned with finding the Greatest PHRASES of all time. Why didn’t they call it that then!


Anyway the results, as published in the Metro but not on the site in question, were as follows:

  1. All you need is love.
  2. Unto thine own self be true.
  3. All journeys require a first step.
  4. Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.
  5. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  6. When you go home tell them of us and say for all of your tomorrows we gave our today.
  7. I love you.
  8. Man does not live by bread alone.
  9. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.
  10. I have a dream.

I’m disappointed to see my favourite PHRASE in tenth place. But then I didn’t vote so can’t complain (remember that if you choose not to vote on the upcoming General Election!), and I’m sure the puritans will be most upset to find that a pop group has grabbed the top spot.

* I fear the pedants (you know who you are!) will rip this one to bits, so let me say that it doesn’t include the title and the count stops before the number 136.