Jul 242007
 

There’s something which has been niggling at me for some time now and that’s our language.


I don’t mean English, even though that has it’s foibles. I’m referring to the Aussie dialect. The ockerisms we’re supposedly well known around the world for, and which foreigners never seem to grasp even when they’re in-country listening to it.
Here’s a ‘for instance’. At Queensland Raceway over the weekend, among the franchises were the ubiquitous beer tents. Beer tents today don’t just serve beer, there’s pre-mixed spirits, wine coolers, Guinness…..the list goes on. If I’m drinking while I’m out it’s always in moderation, and always just plain beer. Mid-strength at the most. I usually have to drive and I reckon there’s enough other drunken reprobates making idiots of themselves without me adding to the fray.
I was getting a refreshing brew and happened to listen in to the fellow alongside:

“ahhh……give us two jimmies an’ a bundy, tah”

Now, ten seconds analysis will tell you he wanted two cans of Jim Beam & Cola and one of Bundaberg Rum & Cola. Only because every Aussie knows what Bundy is, and if you’re a motorsport fan, you’d know that Jim Beam Bourbon sponsors one of the top level Ford teams. Can you imagine though, dear reader, what a non-Aussie listening in might have thought?
Our language is changing though. Some might say for the worse. In fact I for one decry the adoption by young people of the American idiom which seems to have invaded our cultural expressions. My own children use the word ‘ass’ instead of the proper ‘arse’. They use terms like ‘couldn’t be arsed’, which I believe is a cockneyed slang bastardisation. I’ve used terms like ‘hooroo’ all my life and yet even younger Australians today don’t know what it means. There are lots of speech inflections, slang and cultural dialectics which just seem to have faded away. See if you remember hearing these anytime lately:

  • dressed up like a pox doctor’s clerk;
  • shot through like a Bondi tram;
  • silly as a two bob watch;
  • having a woodser
  • blind Freddy could see……;
  • eat the crutch out of a rag doll;
  • having a gander;
  • a butcher’s hook;
  • silly as a wheel
  • Bob’s your Uncle
  • chock-a-block (chockers);
  • piss in your pocket;
  • chuck a wobblie

Just a few which come to mind on the spur of the moment. I’m sure there are plenty more. Are we losing our culture? Is the slow decline of modes of speech the normal process of evolution in communication? I’m left to wonder whether some time next century the world will be a homogenised blend of cultures with commonalities in language which everyone will understand, at the cost of the individualism which makes us, as a race, who we are. I know I’ll be long dead, but I dread the day when ‘Gidday’ and ‘Hooroo’ no longer form a part of the Aussie’s mode of speech.

  One Response to “Lost Arts and Language”

  1. The Hefferlump referred to ‘having wood’ only a couple of weeks ago in reference to priests and Blind Freddy (last heard when Fraser devalued the Oz dollar in 1976) made a come back recently but got jumped on as unPC to the disabled.
    The dominant kulture (currently amerikan language, less so its ‘ideas’ thankfully) usually overwhelms with its habits & language but surprisingly often adopts the underlying idoms.
    Indians drink their tea as ‘chai’ – milk, tea, water & sugar boiled up together because, for two centuries, that’s how the British seemed to drink it yet the British got the habit from the Indians originally, go figure.
    And the word ‘chai’ is still common in Britain but I don’t recall hearing it here since the 60s.