Letter: Class lesson

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The Independent Online
AT SCHOOL, my English teacher explained that the word 'snob' was an acronym of the Latin Sine Nobilate, abbreviated to S NOB ('Keeping up appearances', 5 June). I gather people of non-noble birth were obliged to write this after their signatures at Oxbridge. Writing that one was 'without nobility' was the genesis of social climbing. Imagine the anger and ambition it engendered?

We in Ireland do not have hierarchical snobbery since we have no monarch, and our native earls fled in 1607. Because of Cromwell's dictum 'To hell or to Connaught' and the Penal Laws, people of excellent birth were evicted from their historic estates and pauperised. Many families bequeathed those estates on paper to their moral heirs though they now lived in hovels.

Alice Johnson

Dundrum, Dublin

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