Thursday, June 18, 2015

Some Aussie words . . .

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A wobbly is a tantrum. The word is commonly used in a phrase – throw a wobbly or more usually chuck a wobbly, meaning to throw a temper tantrum or hissey fit.  The same as: chuck a mental, do your block.

Origin unknown.

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The term “wowser” originated in Australia and initially referred to annoying or disruptive persons, such as public drunks and prostitutes. Around 1900 the term changed its meaning to the present one: somebody whose sense of morality makes them want to deprive others of what they consider sinful, such as alcohol. 

John Norton, editor of the anti-wowser scandal sheet Truth, claimed he coined the word in 1899, others believe that the present meaning originated from the initial letters of an Australian temperance slogan, "We Only Want Social Evils Remedied."

According to Historian Stuart Macintyre, “the achievements of the wowsers were impressive; they passed laws that restricted obscenity and juvenile smoking, raised the age of consent, limited gambling, closed down many pubs, and in 1915–16 established a 6 pm closing hour for pubs, which lasted for decades.”

Norman Lindsay, with his nudes and demons art works, was a frequent target of wowosers, inspiring his artistic depictions of them thus:

The Wowser’s Retinue, 1932

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Not a word that is heard as much these days but there’s still the odd older Aussie who uses it. It means work and is commonly linked with the word “hard” to make “hard yakka”, meaning strenuous work or labour. 

The origin is the word “yaga”, meaning “work” in the indigenous language of the Yagara people of the Brisbane region. First recorded in 1847, it was used in pidgin English and from there into Australian English. 

In the 1930’s David Laidlaw began making clothes in his parent’s house in Brunswick, Victoria. He named the clothing company he founded Hard Yakka, the company specialising in tough work clothing. The company did well and eventually expanded into other clothing fields as well as retailing in New Zealand. Today it remains an Aussie icon by name and product.

Not sure how the Yagara people would feel about this ad, though.

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