Saturday, November 26, 2011

Emma Chisit, Jawjuh and more . . .


“England and America are two countries separated by a common language."

-       George Bernard Shaw

“As many of you know, I first came to Australia as a child. But despite my visits, I have to admit I never did learn to talk ‘Strine.’ "

-   US President Barack Obama,
after dinner remarks Australian Parliament, 16 November 2011

In 1964 English author Monica Dickens (1915 – 1992), the great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, was visiting Australia to promote her literary works.  The Sydney Morning Herald of 30 November 1964 reported that during a book signing session in Sydney, a woman presented her with one of her books and said “Emma Chisit”.  Dickens dutifully wrote “To Emma Chisit” on the inside cover, signed her name. and handed it back.  “No, no,” said the woman, “Emma chisit?”  Eventually it dawned that the woman had asked, in an Australian accent, “How much is it?” 

Thus was born “Strine”, a term coined in 1964 for the broad Australian accent, the word being the phonetic designation of “Australian”.  After the Dickens incident, the SMH had regular columns, contributions and letters on Strine examples.  It also inspired Oz writer Alistair Ardoch Morrison to write a number of books under the pseudonym Afferbeck Lauder (“alphabetical order”) , the first being “Let Stalk Strine”, in which he comically set out spoken broad Australian English using phonetic description.  Some examples:

The vessel through which courses the life-blood of Strine public opinion.
“Aorta build another arber bridge.”
 “Aorta have more buses.  An aorta makem smaller so they don't take up half the road.  An aorta put more seats innem so you doan tefter stann all the time.  An aorta have more room innem - you carn ardly move innem air so crairded.  Aorta do something about it.”

Arm Arm:
A childs' appeal to its mother for help. 
“Arm arm, makim stop.”

Egg Nishner:
A mechanical device for cooling and purifying the air of a room.

I mention the above partly becuase of the Pres's comments not long ago and partly because I recently came across the equivalent to Strine for translation from Southern United States to English:

BARD - verb. Past tense of the infinitive "to borrow."
Usage: "My brother bard my pickup truck."

JAWJUH - noun. A highly flammable state just north of Florida.
Usage: "My brother from Jawjah bard my pickup truck."

MUNTS - noun. A calendar division.
Usage: "My brother from Jawjuh bard my pickup truck, and I aint herd from him
in munts."

IGNERT - adjective. Not smart.
Usage: "Them N-C-TWO-A boys sure are ignert!"

RANCH - noun. A tool.
Usage: "I think I left my ranch in the back of that pickup truck my brother from Jawjuh bard a few munts ago."

ALL - noun. A petroleum-based lubricant.
Usage: "I sure hope my brother from Jawjuh puts all in my pickup truck."

FAR - noun. A conflagration.
Usage: "If my brother from Jawjuh doesn't change the all in my pickup truck, that things gonna catch far."

TARRED - adjective. Exhausted.
Usage: "I just flew in from Hot-lanta, and boy my arms are tarred."

RATS - noun. Entitled power or privilege.
Usage: "We Southerners are willing to fight for out rats."

FARN - adjective. Not local.
Usage: "I cudnt unnerstand a wurd he sed ... must be from some farn country."

EAR - noun. A colorless, odorless gas (unless you are in LA).
Usage: "He can't breathe ... give 'em some ear!"

GUMMIT - Noun. An often-closed bureaucratic institution.
Usage: "Great ... ANOTHER gummit shutdown!"

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