Wednesday, August 27, 2008

lexicon of nobody

Regulars will know I use a lot of obscure words and phrases here. Certainly I can choose to do so or not. I understand the appeal of not doing so. Foreign readers would be less confused if I stuck to some variation of international English. But I view this as a soft form of dumbing down. And besides, no one ever did this for me, ha ha.

I've been reading English and American writers all my life and none of them saw fit to narrow their vocabulary or explain anything for the sake of Antipodeans. So I would grab a dictionary and figure it out for myself. Often as not I just had to guess. Well now I get my own back, ha!

But don't worry. In a spirit of helpfulness, I have come up with this brief lexicon. It's a simple glossary of Australian English, archaisms and other unlikely words. It's not any variety of exhaustive. If I use a word that I suspect foreigners will be unfamiliar with, I'll whack it in here. Mind you, this is not such a simple matter. I'm constantly surprised to find words that I thought were universal, were no such thing. Just lately I discovered that 'offsider' is an Australianism. Who knew?

Further, it's not my intention to replace the dictionary. You won't find 'Jesuitical' there, for instance. Every English dictionary has it already (and what a marvellous word it is too). Rather, my purpose is to cover words that foreigners won't find in their respective dictionaries. And don't write to tell me that you do in fact have a given word in common use. It may still be unknown to other native, and second-language, speakers of English.

So! Let's exciting English! Yoroshiku.


noun - the Greek goddess of idleness. (Daughter of Aether and Gaia. She guarded the court of hypnos in the underworld. When she could be fagged that is...)

noun - a derogatory word for an aborigine. (Racist epithets aside, in Australia aborigine and aboriginal are interchangable as nouns. It's meaning is simply that of 'original inhabitant')

noun - Australia; Australia and New Zealand (Literally - the far side of the world. Technically for Australia, the 'antipodes' would be Europe, but let's not confuse things)

noun - afternoon. (As in - 'Seeya this arvo'. This follows in the hallowed tradition of Australians taking words, shortening them, and adding 'o' or 'y' to the end. See telly, below)

noun/adjective - Australian. (I understand everyone knows this word. I put it here to make clear the pronunciation, which is 'ozzie'. For some reason, Americans pronounce it 'ossie' with a hard 's'. For Australians, this grates like you wouldn't believe. See 'Oz' below)

bag out
verb - deprecate, derogate. (As in - 'He never missed an opportunity to bag out George Bush.' Is this Australian? Possibly)

verb - to reserve a thing before anyone else has the opportunity. (As in - 'I bags the couch.' Or - 'You can't bags it because I bagsed it already.' Ha ha ha. It looks ugly written doesn't it? Never mind, it is what it is)

noun - man, fellow. (apparently derived from Shelta, the language of Irish and Welsh gypies loosely based on Gaelic)

Boggo Road
noun - a notorious jail in Brisbane, now closed.

noun - bro, mate, pal. (Short for 'brother', sure enough. This is New Zealander/Pacific Islander English. I always found it curious that 'bro' is pronounced the way it's written. For mine, this makes more sense)

noun - whirl, as in 'give it a whirl'. (I've heard vague rumours that this was originally Scottish. Maybe, maybe not)

imperative verb - Come on. (Made famous by Australian playwright David Williamson with his play The Club. The play was about the dramas within an Australian Rules football club, The Crows. The team was urged forward with the cry, 'C'arn the Crows!')

adjective - embracing many things; of, or catering to, wide tastes. (As in - 'Country and Western, hip-hop, easy listening, you name it, it's all good. My tastes are perfectly catholic'. As for the Catholic Church, it's no accident that it was named thus. For mine, it's a declaration that it is for all, and is an emphatic rejection of any sense of exclusivity)

noun - an old story or gag that we know too well. (As in - 'Not that old chestnut!')

noun - a chicken. (Australians, when feeding chickens, will inevitably say - 'here, chook, chook, chook.' I certainly do.)

noun - rear, derriere. (As in, 'That bloody tailgater was right up my clacker'. I would declare that on the scale of things this word is less rude than 'arse', mostly on account of its comedic resemblance to some kind of sound effect. Without being certain, I'm convinced it derives from cloaca a primitive physical arrangement found in many non-mammals that functions as both waste tract and sexual organs. Okay, so that's pretty yucky, but since nobody has ever heard of a cloaca, clacker is safe to be used in front of children, grandmas, etc)

noun/interjection - a high pitch cry used in the Australian bush to attract attention or denote one's location to those distant or unseen. (Used in conversation to indicate great distance. Thus - 'We broke down in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing within cooee')

noun - man, fellow. (Dated English but originally from the Romany kova meaning 'thing or person')

crack the shits
verb - throw a tantrum. (As in - 'When he was told there were only light beers left, he cracked the shits.)

noun - a really marvellous thing, a shining example. (As in- 'Don't miss that new flick. It's a cracker!' Crackers are also small fireworks of the Chinese New Year's variety, as well as those paper things one pulls apart at Xmas to find a paper hat and small toy inside. Do Americans have those? And what do they call them?)

crawl up one's arse
verb - to behave in an obsequious or sycophantic fashion. (As in - 'I'm sick of that bloke, he's always crawling up the boss's arse)

noun - a silly person.

dips me lid
verb - 'take my hat off'. (This is a quote from CJ Dennis' 1919 poem, 'A Sentimental Bloke'. Dennis along with Henry Lawson, Banjo Patterson, and others featured in the then culturally significant 'Bulletin' magazine, and were the first Australians to write in a distinctly Australian vernacular. Whilst not quite reaching his genius heights, they are to the Antipodes what Mark Twain was to the US)

dob in
verb - inform on someone, rat someone out. (This used to be an arch sin in Australia. But under that shit Howard, the Australian Federal Government began running a campaign urging Australians to dob in their coloured, jibber-jabbering neighbours. It wasn't quite that explicit, but everyone got it. PS - Under Rudd, the campaign continues to run. No surprises there.)

noun - a cigarette.

verb - bothered, as in a tiresome chore. ('The picture fell down but I couldn't be fagged putting it back up.' This is clearly derived from the English public school tradition of 'fagging' whereby younger boys would do the chores of older boys. This doesn't exist in Australia and subsequently the word persists only by way of the past participle)

feeding the chooks
verb - addressing, or otherwise answering the questions of, the media (This was coined by the famous, long serving, populist State Premier of Queensland, Joh Bjelke Petersen. It was a clear statement of contempt for the media on his part, and still holds that connotation. Whilst I share his contempt for the media, that's not to excuse him. He was an arsehole)

full stop
noun - a punctuation mark denoting the end of a sentence. ('period' in American English)

noun - a falsehood, a piece of scuttlebutt, a red-herring. (Furphy and Sons were the manufacturers of water carts in WWI. These carts served the precise function of the scuttlebutt (water barrel) on a ship, ie. a place to stand around and chat whilst having a drink of water. Scuttlebutt is considered to be gossip that may, or may not, be true. A furphy, on the other hand, is never true, as in - 'The WMD's were a complete furphy')

Japanese, noun - foreigner. (What I am in Japan. Literally 'outside country person')

phrase - Hello. (Actually 'hi' would be closer to the mark in terms of the casual nature of this greeting. Neither the Prime Minister, nor any newsreader, would ever begin any formal address with 'G'day'. It is emphatically not 'good day' which would, if anything, denote the end of the conversation and that one were leaving, presumably in a huff. To be honest, no one in Australia says 'good day'. Ever. Otherwise by way of pronunciation, it's closest relative would be 'Gdansk'. The elision of the vowel between g and d should be utter)

get on the fiddle
phrase - to be up to something of a lewd or sordid nature. (Another neologism of Roy and HG. See 'have a spray')

noun - a worthless or contemptible person. (I find this word useful as it's fairly gentle and makes no comment on one's birth, sexual orientation, intelligence, physical shortcomings, or race)

Cantonese, noun - foreigner. (What I am in Hong Kong. Literally 'foreign devil' or variously 'ghost man'. Cool, huh?)

noun - a jersey. (Jersey and Guernsey, both Channel Islands, became synonymous with the distinctive variety of knitted tops traditionally made there. Both words are now loosely used to describe the pull-over tops worn by football players of all codes. Thus, to get a guernsey means to 'be picked for the team' or otherwise 'make the grade')

have a spray
verb - to have one's say, to express an opinion. (I suspect that this is a neologism created by Roy Slaven and HG Nelson, two Australian radio and TV personalities famous for their singularly perverse sports commentary. More than a few of their expressions have entered the vernacular and most of them smutty, albeit in a cryptic fashion)

noun - a Japanese minimalist poem of three lines. (This is explained in more detail on the haiku blog. I merely mention it here to reiterate its pronunciation, which is 'high-koo'. Also the plural of haiku is haiku)

noun - a creature which inspires fear but exists only in one's imagination. (Heffalumps appear in 'Winnie The Pooh' by AA Milne and illustrated by Earnest Shepard. Whilst the characters in Pooh are convinced that heffalumps are very scary things, any children reading the book (or having it read to them) will clearly understand, by way of the illustrations, that heffalumps are merely elephants and not scary at all. Disney later anthropomorphised heffalumps into yet more cute singing characters. I expect AA Milne rolled over in his grave. For mine, the Disney version of Pooh is execrable, a real piece of shit. The original on the other hand is a masterpiece of children's literature)

noun - a simple cake made from sponge that is cut into cubes (approximately two inches square) and covered in chocolate icing and sprinkled with dessicated coconut. (These are famously made at home and then sold at churches, or school fetes, to raise money for charity. This is known as a 'lamington drive'. Lamingtons taste pretty good. Fancy lamingtons are cut in half and have red jam smeared in the middle before being coated)

lizard of Oz
noun - a reference to the then Australian PM, Paul Keating, who had the temerity to place his hand on Queen Elizabeth's shoulder at an official function (This was the precise headline from an English tabloid. The media's tone was - How dare a commoner touch our Queen! Sure enough, there are commoners and there are commoners. I suspect if the right sort of commoner (Michelle Obama comes to mind) were to replicate the act, no one would say boo. As colonials go, Americans are infinitely preferable to Australians)

Mandarin, noun - foreigner (What I am in Mainland China. Literally 'outside country person')

noun - friend, pal, buddy. (It's my considered opinion that none of these quite hits the mark. 'Mate' has within it an implicit solidarity, as in 'shipmate' or 'cellmate'. Officers and government officials aside, nearly all Australia's early settlers were one or the other. Subsequently, calling someone 'mate' is an unspoken acknowledgement that one is not a member of the ruling class)

noun - a name. (This is informal and operates thus - 'Just whack your moniker and address at the top of the form.' Do Americans use this? I only seem to hear Australians say it)

Japanese, adjective - second generation. (Used solely for Japanese who have settled abroad. 'Ni' means 'two' and 'sei' means 'life' or 'generation'. Ichi, ni, san (one, two, three) thus becomes 'issei, nisei, sansei', ie. 'first, second, and third generation')

noun - partner, assistant, a person comprising a third party connected to a second party. (Thus unlikely to be used to describe one's own friend. 'I talked to the bloke while his offsider had a cigarette')

phrase - congratulations, well done, bravo. (Short for 'good on you', possibly present in other Englishes but certainly common coinage in Australia)

noun - Australia. (This was coined in the seventies by Richard Neville (who occasionally still lobs up on counterpunch) in a magazine of the same name. It's an obvious name given the correct pronunciation of 'Aussie')

packed to the gunnels
adjective - very full. (gunnels, a corruption of 'gunwales', are the upper sides of a ship, so called because they had cannon bowsed up against them. A 'wale' was a particularly heavy plank used for the hull)

Pat Malone
adjective/pronoun - alone, on one's own. (There's precious little true Australian rhyming slang but this is one of them. I suspect that there was no actual Pat Malone as such. Under the rules of rhyming slang, this should more correctly be shortened to 'pat', as in, 'He was all on his pat'. Me, I find this somewhat unlovely and prefer the full expression)

noun - a person who backs out of a deal or otherwise chickens out. (In the verb form this functions exactly like 'chicken out' as in, 'He was going to help us move house but he piked out.')

noun - a politician.

noun - an Englishman. (The adjectival form being 'Pommy'. I suspect that English people have by now calmed down about this word. I notice The Times Crossword recently had a clue, 'Sounds like English stone fruit', with the answer being 'pomegranate'. Significantly the clue was not 'Sounds like English put down stone fruit', which is to say the clue acknowledges that 'English' and 'Pommy' are interchangeable and that the latter lacks any sense of derogation. Mind you, one can fix that by modifying 'Pommy' with the suffix 'bastard'. But that says more about 'bastard' than it does about 'Pommy', ahem)

noun - a small bet.
verb - to lay a small bet.

noun - the average man in the street, literally 'one who bets'. (I don't know about other places, but in Australia the age-old entertainment of the lower classes was to follow the horses. The majority of betting was through the government-run TAB (Totaliser Agency Board). No shopping street in any Australian town is without a TAB. Sure enough, it is now being pushed to the sidelines as gambling is being legalised and put into corporate hands. Who'll give me odds on the inevitability of corruption? Any takers?)

adjective - happy, pleased. (Who knows why this magical word assumed such a mundane role in Australia? Not me)

verb - to bilk a system (in all likelihood the government) by fraudulent or dishonest means. (The insurance companies had been rorting the system for years)
noun - as above

same same/same-same
adjective - the same as. (Thai-glish usually delivered as 'same same, different' meaning 'just like that, but not quite'. Part of the vernacular of Asian expats)

Japanese, adjective - third generation. (See nisei, above)

shank's pony
noun - one's own legs as a means of transport, ie. walking. (Shank is not a fellow who owned a pony, it merely means leg)

verb - past tense of shit. (Australians and the English have the irregular verb 'shit' follow 'sit' by way of past participle and past perfect. Thus, sit/sat/sat - shit/shat/shat. Americans have it follow 'hit'. Thus hit/hit/hit - shit/shit/shit. Which is a pity because it's a marvellous word, shat. Oh, 'spit' functions in the same fashion - spit/spat/spat)

noun - dust-up, brawl, kerfuffle.

noun - television. (Australians have a habit of shortening words and adding a 'y' or an 'o' to the end. Thus 'Christmas presents' become 'Chrissy prezzies'. Foreigners view this as infantile but they fail to understand that it's done in a spirit of archness, which is to say that it's a joke and we all get it. To object to it is to not get the joke)

noun - a shop, usually by way of a counter, where school students can buy food and drink. (The tuck-shop is usually run by volunteers, invariably known as 'tuck-shop ladies'. The 'tucker' sold in tuck-shops usually consists of pies, sausage rolls, chips, sticky buns, and soft drinks)

tuppence ha'penny
noun - two and half pence. (which is to say, a trifling amount. As in - 'I wouldn't give you tuppence ha'penny for anything he has to say'. In Australia, we shifted from pounds, shillings, and pence over forty years ago but the phrase lingers)

verb - Japanese for 'I understand' or 'I get it'.

noun - a prude, a killjoy. (No one knows where this comes from. It's a great word though)

Japanese, technically an adverb - regards, best wishes. (literally the 'well' from 'please consider me well'. Whilst functioning as 'regards' it does so in a backwards fashion by asking that the second party have regard for the first party, if you can dig it)


Anonymous said...

That'd be great cobber.

nobody said...

Yeah, but would it be a riparoony and a fandoogly? ha ha ha.

the Silverfish said...

Great I left my smarty pants stuff on your Lexicon of Nobody thingy and now I can't git back here without logging off. Well I Never.

nobody said...

Don't worry, I'll sort it out. I haven't put any links or clevernesses on there yet.

Anonymous said...

Spotted the Lexicon yesterday after posting my latest diatribe, quickly noted the definition of "full-stop" very near the top of the list, and smiled... =)

And while I may appear to be an experienced wrangler with American English, by virtue of having had so many "ethnic" friends of variegated stripe over the years, I've been fortunate to taste the flexibility of the Mother Tongue.

King's English? Check. Glaswegian? Eck All. G'day Bruce? Check, mate... =)

Anonymous said...

g'day from pom land :p

Penny said...

thanks nobody, I had noticed and actually I appreciate it, cause sometimes, I had no clue what exactly you were saying.

As if language and words aren't already challenging enough, what they mean, what you mean, how people interpret them, etc. etc.,

I am still waiting for "git" you used it one time in describing yourself.

Now I don't know what the hell you are?

Penny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kikz said...


i just updated to firefox 3... it HAS NUKED MY BOOKMARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



anyway.. wanted ta lety'all know what yer in for w/V3.

i'm livid.

nobody said...

Thanks folks,

It could just be me, but all the text has changed itself here. I hope I'm not in for Les' mullarkey.

Otherwise thanks folks. 'Git' and 'Pom' (not that I use the latter much) will be added shortly. And Miraculix, I wondered if your earlier comment hadn't pivoted on exactly that definition. I did reply and wonder at it.

BTW. I do love that 'Bruces' sketch but fact of the matter is, in Australia, Bruce was, if anything, shorthand for gay. There was a famous radio show a few years back (The Naked Vicar Show) that had a regular gay character called Bruce. Perhaps because of that it's quite uncommon now. Now that I think about it, I don't know anyone called Bruce. Rare as hen's teeth, ha ha. Meanwhile, the Python sketch lives forever...

Anonymous said...

"And Miraculix, I wondered if your earlier comment hadn't pivoted on exactly that definition. I did reply and wonder at it."

It did and I read your thoughtful reply, which is why I smiled... =)

Nothing really needed to be added at that point, or so it seemed, as I sensed from your clarification that we appear to be singing from different editions of the same bloody hymnal -- and I could see no pressing need to wear out our keyboards flogging the infinite.

"BTW. I do love that 'Bruces' sketch but fact of the matter is, in Australia, Bruce was, if anything, shorthand for gay."

FWIW, I suspected the shorthand implication way back when; this was confirmed in later years by a charming bloke from Perth that I worked with for a time.

Sadly, though my vorname is not Bruce, it has been the most common name that emerges from people's lips (english speakers) mistakenly. It has occured so often over the years that I even contemplated getting a t-shirt made once (as a joke) stating: "They Call Me Bruce".

And no, I am not of the flower-arranging persuasion, though I have known and befriended (platonically) a florist or two along the way. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

What I really want to know is: why are they all such huge Morrisey fans? =)

nobody said...

All very good mate.

Just for the record, I have arranged flowers but only in the style of the Gumby School of Flower Arranging (we are in a Python bent today). Further for the record I was a Johnny Marr fan, not a Morrissey fan.

Mind you, the line about -

"Let me get my hands,
On your mammary glands"

always cracked me up.

kikz said...

ok, an update to my lexiKon of kikz...


'twould seem, firefoxV3 is just sneaky... my bookmarkbackups were still there.. but as eazy ta get to as a wisdom tooth sans anesthesia.

color me still livid, but after several hoops and numerous dog/pony executions, my library of alexandria has been restored. longsigh.

after excavations i found the backups, but to import is another matter. my advice is to take a sedative then proceed, if this should happen to you... and V3 decides to open another profile on ya.


cute haiku noby >:)

Anonymous said...

I have been meaning to ask how is Australian education compared to American education? I have never seen a person type as good and unique as you. Your writing style is very new to a formerly brainwashed American.

nobody said...

Well I was brainwashed too mate. I only started to wake up just before the Iraq war. Otherwise I was a true blue Time magazine reader. I read it for thirty years, ha ha. What a waste of money!

As for education, I don't know if I can comment. I never went to school in the US. I went to school in the UK for a year (first year of high school) and I don't know that I could tell the difference.

For the record, I went to a different school every year right up until the second year of high school. This is the lot of military brats such as yours truly. Anyway every school I went to was Roman Catholic if that means anything. But don't be impressed. They were all pretty crummy. There might be rich Catholic schools out there but I never went to one. In the fifth grade I went to a school run by two nuns. It had two rooms and each room had three grades which they'd somehow teach simultaneously. And both those nuns had previously worked in prisons. Jesus Christ they were vicious! Even the old man was scared of them.

But the last school I was in may not have been much to look at but there were some brilliant teachers there (and some of them were priests) and frankly, I appreciate what they did for me.

Otherwise, it may just be me mate. Even in Oz I'm something of an oddity. I pretty much talk like I write and there ain't too many Australians who talk like me, ha ha.

Ciao bra.

Just off now to put 'Oz' in the lexicon...

Anonymous said...

I too had hard teachers I hated but those are the ones your learn the most from. Afterall, a teacher's job is to teach and not be your friend. (they have it backwards in America)

I must admit, it is very impressive to see an Asian who sees the hidden Jewish Hand. Likewise an African such as I who also sees the hidden Jewish hand. (who control most countries)

Penny said...

catholic school eh?
been there, done that.

Was it a saint or an our lady of something?

Nuns, as teachers, has one really nice one, and one really crabby one, who was also the principal, not at the same time of course.

Religion is infused in everything in Catholic school, on the walls are religious words, and then all the going to church , have the priest talk to you, etc, etc.,

fun fun fun

thankfully, I did not attend catholic high school, and thusly my corruption began, lol!

and I sinned immensely by never baptising my only child, now I am smitten, I mean I have been smote, smite, gods gonna poke my eye out,whatever, lol.

Anonymous said...

african warrior is right mate.
i did'nt notice until i read his comment,you write like i wish more people would speak.i am a texas yankee. in texas that is an oxymoron.
though i suspect we're all yanks to
all ozzies.actually i'm more like a damn yankee or to some a goddamn
yankee since i moved from michigan to your stuff tho. lucky to have a bro 24 years older then me
who opened my eyes to the true state of affairs of the corrupt class/elitist murdering thieving
warmongering bunch.
or maybe not so lucky if ignorance is bliss then surely with wisdom comes sorrow. i'll quit blabbing now

john said...

What's a Dill? It doesn't seem to be in the lexicon and we don't have it here. Well, maybe we do but we don't have the word here, is what I mean.

Slightly confused,

veritas6464 said...

Hey Nobody,...Have missed your work lately, thought you must'a pulled a sickie!