Magazine article The Spectator

MIN D Y O U R L A N G U A G E Para

Magazine article The Spectator

MIN D Y O U R L A N G U A G E Para

Article excerpt

62 E ven my husband is not old enough to recall the wheelchair archery competition at Stoke Mandeville on the day the 1948 Olympics opened in London.

Such games came to be organised by the British Paraplegic Sports Society and so were called the Paralympic Games.

I t was a true portmanteau word, packing together paraplegic and Olympic.

But the I nternational Paralympic Committee declares what it must know to be untrue:

'The word Paralympic derives from the Greek preposition para (beside or alongside) and the word Olympic.

I ts meaning is that Paralympics are the parallel Games to the Olympics.' They may well be parallel but that is not the historical origin of the word. The Bucks Advertiser had a place in recording this history, since Stoke Mandeville lies in its area.

I n 1954 the paper announced that 'paraplegic athletes from all over the world had assembled for the Paralympics'.

Paraplegic itself meant in the 17th century 'a Palsy which seizeth all the parts of the Body below the Head', and could still be used even later to mean paralysis of one side of the body, only settling down to mean paralysis of the lower parts in the 19th century. …

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