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You may have noticed the word “yob” in British newspapers or heard it during radio stations’ hourly news broadcasts. Whether it’s news of a stabbing, robbery or the tormenting of the elderly, fingers often get pointed toward “yobs.” Defined as a young hooligan, yobs are known to wreak havoc and be the cause of many anti-social incidents in England. They have annoyed and frightened Brits so much that even Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken out on finding ways to stop what he calls, “the yob culture.” Similar to a juvenile delinquent in the States, yobs are thought of as bad-mannered young people with no respect. They can travel in numbers, lurk in the darkness and wear hoodies to hide their face from the numerous closed circuit TV cameras in this country. Yob, “boy” spelled backward, is believed to have come about in the mid-19th century as part of “back slang,” according to the Chambers Reference Online Web site. Back slang became popular among London market traders who referred, for example, to carrots as “storrac” or parsnips as “spinsrap,” the Web site states. In its early days, the word “yob” just meant boy. It has since transformed into today’s not-so-cheery meaning. The unofficial yob capital of England, according to a report by the National Audit Commission, is the town of Corby, about 50 miles northwest of Cambridge. The NAC ranked the town first following a survey on anti-social behavior, in which nearly half of Corby residents thought it was a serious issue. Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at:

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