Amanda Laugesen on Boganism

Amanda Laugesen, Editor-in-Chief of The Australian National Dictionary asks what the word ‘bogan’ says about Australian culture and society. See the November 2022 issue of ‘Australian Book Review’. The podcast can be heard via this link.

Digging deep on Aussie nongs and drongos


Kate Burridge writes on the exuberance of expressions people gave us for stupidity. Favourites ranged from mild drongo (the clear winner in our survey with 886 mentions) to the more potent dickhead (third in the list, but a long way behind drongo with 120 mentions). Quite high on this list was also nong (and its relative ning-nong). Nong has been a favourite in this country for some time – since at least the turn of the 20th century, in fact, Australians have been referring to each other as colossal nongs. Nong has always been an effective insult to question someone’s intelligence or competence, but like other insults, it continues to be an important signal of mateship – and true affection. There is more to read at https://lens.monash.edu/2022/11/09/1385251.

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Discourse markers: When saying ‘a bit’ can mean a lot


Isabelle Burke writes “a bit” is a discourse marker – one of those hard-working little linguistic scraps like “you know” or “I mean”, which help manage the flow of discourse, perhaps through interpersonal work, or signposting the structure of a conversation. There’s “a little bit of a car accident”, “a bit of a headache”, “a bit of a blood clot”, and even a plane crash described as “a bit of a frightening experience”. Hedges such as “a bit” are an integral part of our everyday conversational routines surrounding ill health or misfortune. But funnily enough, Australian speakers do not only mitigate overtly negative statements, but even seemingly positive ones. For instance, our data reveals examples such as calling someone “a bit of a local hero”, and plenty of instances of “a bit of a legend”. Tall poppy syndrome means the issuing of compliments can be a fraught business – in fact, in need of mitigation! For more, see https://lens.monash.edu/2022/09/14/1385080.

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A fried potato by any other name would taste as savoury


American Australian Howard Manns went to the shop to buy what Americans call “tater tots” and discovered they were what Coles calls “potato royals”. A more common word in Australia is “potato gem”. In Victoria they are “potato cakes”, in NSW “potato scallops”, and someone from South Australian thinks these are called “potato fritters”. For discussion of this and more see https://lens.monash.edu/@politics-society/2022/08/24/1385017

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‘No worries’ looks to be a simple little expression – but it’s anything but

Kate Burridge points out that when Ozzies love an expression, they play with it. No worries has generated numerous remodelled versions – notably, gloriously truncated nurries, and the more complex no wuckers/no wucks, two truncated spoonerised versions (from no fucking worries -> no wucking furries -> no wuckers/no wucks). No wuckers also shows the -ers ending, a double diminutive sometimes added to adjectives (like chockers, ‘chock-a-block’; preggers, ‘pregnant’), and also to nicknames (one of my school nicknames, Budge, was occasionally transformed – I like to think, affectionately – to Budgers). And there is more to entertain you at https://lens.monash.edu/@politics-society/2022/08/18/1384986

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Best thing about Aussie slang? Calling a clueless seppo a galah

Howard Manns writes that the best thing about Australian words is that they are our words, and other people don’t know them. You can call an American a galah, and they won’t know what you mean. Old cobbers will have their drongos and galahs, but the ankle-biters are conjuring a new wave of lexical innovations for the next generation of boofheads; the Australian lexicon is changing, but it’s not dying. Young people use a wider variety of words for “stupid”,

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