The Spectator

Are we returning to ‘normalcy’ or ‘normality’?

Warren Harding [Getty Images]

New normal

Why have so many people started saying ‘normalcy’ rather than ‘normality’? — Normalcy has been traced back to 1857 when it was used in geometry to denote a state where lines were perpendicular to each other. It was rarely used outside mathematics until 1920, when the then US presidential candidate Warren Harding made a speech in Boston referring to a ‘return to normalcy’ following the Great War. He said: ‘America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy.’ He was ridiculed for what was regarded by many as a malapropism. Although ‘normalcy’ is now in common use in the US, it was still the lesser-used word at the last count. According to Google analysis of American books published in 2000, normalcy was used 104 times in every million words, but normality 181 times per million. The corresponding figures for British books are 68 and 372 per million.

Room and bored

The government is considering forcing all travellers to quarantine in airport hotels for ten days, at their own expense. The three countries which currently enforce this on travellers charge £1,692 (Australia), £1,630 (New Zealand) and £642 (Thailand). Would that be a bit of a cheeky mark-up on what it really costs to stay at an airport hotel now? Current cost of a stay at a Heathrow hotel (ten days from 8 February, excluding food):

Ibis Styles | £435

Leonardo | £546

Aerotel | £574

Novotel | £596

Holiday Inn | £669

Hilton | £792

Kicked out

Chelsea Football Club sacked its manager, Frank Lampard. How many managers have the top teams had since the beginning of the Premiership in 1992?

Manchester United | 6

Arsenal | 9

Liverpool | 9

Manchester City | 17

Chelsea | 21

Tottenham Hotspur | 22


How has the proportion of the UK public saying they are ‘likely’ to have a Covid-19 vaccine evolved?

August 2020 (King’s College study) | 53%

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