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- Children of the Bush - 48/48 -


Notes on Australianisms. Based on my own speech over the years, with some checking in the dictionaries, e.g. "Macquarie Book of Slang" (2000), Oxford English Dictionary. Not all of these are peculiar to Australian slang, but are important in Lawson's stories, and carry overtones.

anabranch: A bend in a river that has been cut through by the stream. The main current now runs straight, the anabranch diverges and then rejoins. See billabong. Barcoo-rot. "Persistent ulceration of the skin, chiefly on the hands, and often originating in abrasions". (Morris, Australian English). Barcoo is a river in Queensland. billabong. Based on an aboriginal word. Sometimes used for an anabranch, but more often used for one that, in dry season or droughts especially, is cut off at either or both ends from the main stream. It is often just a muddy pool, and may indeed dry up completely. blackfellow: condescending for Australian Aboriginal blackleg: someone who is employed to cross a union picket line to break a workers' strike. As Molly Ivins said, she was brought up on the three great commandments: do not lie; do not steal; never cross a picket line. Also scab. blanky or --- : Fill in your own favourite word. Usually however used for "bloody"--see crimson/gory. blooming: actually used in speech instead of "bloody" (see crimson). bluey: swag. Explanation in Lawson's "The romance of the Swag" here. bob: one shilling bullocky: Bullock driver. A man who drove teams of bullocks yoked to wagons carrying e.g. wool bales or provisions. Proverbially rough and foul mouthed. bummer: A cadger or bludger. Someone who begs for food. Interesting Americanism already. Also, tramp. (Different meaning today) bush: originally referred to the low tangled scrubs of the semi-desert regions (cf. `mulga' and `mallee'), and hence equivalent to "outback". Now used generally for remote rural areas ("the bush") and scrubby forest. bushfire: wild fires: whether forest fires or grass fires. bushman/bushwoman: someone who lives an isolated existence, far from cities, "in the bush". (today: a "bushy") bushranger: an Australian "highwayman", who lived in the `bush'-- scrub--and attacked especially gold carrying coaches and banks. Romanticised as anti-authoritarian Robin Hood figures--cf. Ned Kelly--but usually very violent. bunyip: Aboriginal monster, inhabiting waterholes, billabongs particularly. Adopted into European legends. caser: Five shillings (12 pence to the shilling, 20 shillings to the pound ("quid")). As a coin, a crown piece. chaffing: teasing, mocking good-humouredly churchyarder: Sounding as if dying--ready for the churchyard = cemetery crimson = gory: literary substitutes for "bloody"--the "colonial oath", unacceptable in polite company. Why, is a complete mystery. Popularly explained as contraction of "by Our Lady". Unproved. In reproducing (badly) a German's pronunciation of Australian, Lawson retains the word, but spells it "pluddy". dood: Dude. A classy/cool dresser. drover: one who "droves" droving: driving on horseback cattle or sheep from where they were fattened to a a city, or later, a rail-head. fiver: a five pound note gory, see crimson Homebush: Saleyard, market area in Sydney humpy: rough shack half-caser: Two shillings and sixpence. As a coin, a half-crown. jackaroo: (Jack + kangaroo; sometimes jackeroo)--someone, in early days a new immigrant from England, learning to work on a sheep/cattle station (U.S. "ranch".) jim-jams: the horrors, d.t.'s jumbuck: a sheep (best known from Waltzing Matilda: "where's that jolly jumbuck, you've got in your tucker bag".) larrikin: anything from a disrespectful young man to a violent member of a gang ("push"). Was considered a major social problem in Sydney of the 1880's to 1900. The _Bulletin_, a magazine in which much of Lawson was published, spoke of the "aggressive, soft-hatted stoush brigade". Anyone today who is disrespectful of authority or convention is said to show the larrikin element in the Australian character. lucerne: Alfalfa in US mallee: dwarfed eucalyptus trees growing in very poor soil and under harsh rainfall conditions. Usually many stems emerging from the ground, creating a low thicket. mateship: See Lawson story, "Mateship". A heavily romanticised, but nevertheless very practical form of (male) loyalty to a (male) companion who travels with/works with him. A "mate" provides not only companionship, but help in emergencies. Typical of an Australian in the "outback"--or "Never-Never", or under war conditions. A man without a mate was a "hatter"--"his hat covers his family". Such a person might go "ratty" (see further in The romance of the Swag). Equivalent to the "buddy system" in SCUBA diving. metalled: of a road, covered in crushed rock (e.g. "blue metal") mulga: Acacia sp. ("wattle" in Australian) especially Acacia aneura; growing in semi-desert conditions. Used as a description of such a harsh region. mullock: the tailings left after gold has been removed. In Lawson generally mud (alluvial) rather than rock myall: aboriginal living in a traditional--pre-conquest--manner nobbler: a drink nuggety: compact but strong physique; small but well-muscled pastoralist: OED sees it a equivalent to "squatter", but in Lawson someone often someone managing a large cattle/sheep "station" for a "pastoral company" rather than an individual. Seen as ultimate capitalist oppression. pluddy: see crimson quid: monetary unit; one pound ratty: insane--or, very eccentric, "cranky". ringer: the champion sheep shearer in a shed that season rouseabout: Labourer in a (sheep) shearing shed. Considered to be, as far as any work is, unskilled labour. sawney: silly, gormless scab: see blackleg shout: In a group; to stand (pay for) a round of drinks. Bad form to leave before your turn comes around. Much peer pressure to drink more than one wished. One can also "shout" for everyone in the pub. skillion(-room): A "lean-to", a room built up against the back of some other building, with separate roof. spifflicated: punished, thrashed without mercy. spree: prolonged drinking bout--days, weeks. squatter: Someone who took up large areas of land, originally without official permission ("squatted"), for sheep especially. Became the "landed aristocracy" of Australia. ("Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred") steever: Originally a Dutch coin. Used here like "penny"--or brass razoo. sundowner: a swagman (see) who is NOT looking for work, but a "handout". Lawson explains the term as referring to someone who turns up at a station at sundown, just in time for "tea" i.e. the evening meal. Line (2494) of actual text (not counting P.G. matter). swagman (swaggy): Generally, anyone who is walking in the "outback" with a swag. (See "The Romance of the Swag".) Lawson also restricts it at times to those whom he considers to be tramps, not looking for work but for "handouts". In view of the Great Depression (1890->. In 1892 it was reckoned 1/3 men were out of work) perhaps unfairly. Perhaps because he _was_ there. See `travellers'. Tattersalls: The earliest public lottery in Australia. (1881) tenner: a ten pound note. tin-kettling: making noise by striking metal pots/pans. May be celebratory (weddings--in this collection, New Year's Eve), or may indicate extreme social disapproval of someone. travellers: "shearers and rouseabouts travelling for work" (Lawson).


Children of the Bush - 48/48

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