Rant of the day

[pedantic mode on] If there's one thing that really irritates me it's people calling a Register Office a Registry Office. It's amazing how often this mistake is made, and even more amazing how many educated people make it. I've heard the mistake made by BBC presenters (who should know better) and by family lawyers (who definitely should know better). I've even seen it in divorce petitions prepared by solicitors and allowed through by the court. The place where the register of births, marriages and deaths is kept (and where marriages take place) is called the 'Register Office', not the 'Registry Office'.

Well, that's got that off my chest... [/pedantic mode off]


  1. I agree.... quite right!. I remember telling my last wife, as we swept into Guildford register office to tell her father that it was 'Register' office.

    I know these things are not important in the grand scheme of things... but ..... it is, possibly, a sign of age, when one starts to worry about these things?

    Excellent, John... made me smile.

  2. I hope you're not suggesting I'm getting old!

  3. I haven't been reading you long and came here through your latest entry on the topic. This topic came up in my comments http://www.margaret-marks.com/Transblawg/archives/001564.html (very last comments) a couple of years ago and I will post on your point of view (I'm a translator). I'd be interested in any other language rants you may have: from the tone of this I think there must be a few more there.

  4. I thinks the difference is purely regional. In Bristol, when I was growing up, it was ALWAYS Registry Office. Anyone who called it the "Register Office" would have been considered to have arrived from the Planet Zog. Those who have a problem with it should shut up and get a life (i.e. worry about more important things like not forgetting to watch Coronation Street, breathing and having a good time occasionally...)


  5. I agree I ought to get a life, but at the risk of sounding completely anal, a 'registry' is "a place where a register is kept, or an office of registration", as in Land Registry. 'Registry Office' is therefore equivalent to saying 'Register Office Office', which is a nonsense. Right, now I'm off to watch Coronation Street...

  6. Paul, surely you don't mean that us pedants don't watch Coronation Street. And you can't possibly mean that Coronation Street protects you from all charges when you yourself insist on 'registry office'...
    (Margaret - I'm not sure why I was registered as Zeppo before, but that is one of my aliases)

  7. >>Paul, surely you don't mean that us pedants don't watch Coronation Street. And you can't possibly mean that Coronation Street protects you from all charges when you yourself insist on 'registry office'...<<

    Well no, that's the point, I don't insist on it. As I said I consider "registry office" to be purely regional and, as such, just as correct.
    Charges? Have I been "charged" with something? Oh dear. It must be this no-win no-fee culture that has been at least certainly promoted if not backed by Sky....


    Paul, Ehningen

  8. May I register another vote for "registry office" as a possible version? (OK, I'll don my "anti-flame" suit first, and bury my claim to be PC).
    My good friend Google points me to a homily which states:
    "Greenwich registry office holds the original registers from 1837 to the present day. Prior to 1969 the register office was split into sub-districts."
    Straight from the horse's mouth, no less.

    Thus spake North Yorks CC:
    "Registry office Information:
    Harrogate Register Office ..."

    "Bath’s Registry Office recently moved in to the Guildhall ..."

    "Norfolk Registry Offices
    Please find below links to local Norfolk Registry Offices.
    If you have a Norfolk registry office that you think would be suitable for inclusion here then you are welcome to suggest the site ..."
    (followed by a list of a dozen local registER offices!!!)

    All of these quotes are from the domain ".gov.uk".

    A search for "registry office" in the body of the text with the domain "gov.uk" gives 178,000 hits.
    So perhaps it is not the preferred or standard version, but to suggest it is in some way wrong or reprehensible is a tad too prescriptivist for me.

  9. One thing I want on my blog when I move it is an indication in the margin as to where the latest comments are. Maybe I should have started this under the later post, so that other regular readers would have a chance to shoot me down. Charon QC does seem to take a less stuffy view than I would have expected, though!

    Great weblog, btw.


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