Australian English: words and phrases added to OxfordDictionaries.com
In this latest update to OxfordDictionaries.com, Australian English features prominently. From lamington drives, sausage sizzles, and magic puddings to sheep cockies and wheat cockies – these latest additions to OxfordDictionaries.com reveal something of the colour and diversity of Australian English both past and present.
The Australian English vocabulary abounds with abbreviated words marking a characteristic informality shared by many of its speakers. Fishermen might try to catch a kingie or muddie, or if they’re unlucky bump into a large saltie. Mushies, pavs, sangers, and savs can all be eaten sarvo with an onya to the cook! All these abbreviated forms, and many more, have now been added to OxfordDictionaries.com.
There are many colourful phrases found in Australian English that are not as well known as they were in the past, but that can still be encountered in literature and in the speech of older generations. If someone tells you your blood is worth bottling, they are expressing their appreciation of your exceptional value. Other phrases that have been added to OxfordDictionaries.com include: what do you think this is – bush week? (a response to a request, implying that the speaker is being unfairly imposed upon or taken for a fool); send her down Hughie (an appeal for rain); rough as guts (lacking in refinement or sophistication); and the night’s a pup (it is still early).
Kangaroo is a word most people associate with Australia; it has also been productive in forming various compounds in Australian English. Some of the terms based on ‘kangaroo’ in this update include: kangaroo bar (a strong metal grille fitted to the front of a motor vehicle to protect it from impact damage; a bull bar); kangaroo dance (an Aboriginal dance in which the movements of a kangaroo are represented); kangaroo jack (a heavy-duty lever-action device for lifting heavy objects); and kangaroo route (the air route between Australia and London). The last of these is so-named because the route was originally flown by the airline Qantas, whose aircraft tail livery features a stylized kangaroo.
On the sheep’s back
Australia’s prosperity was once described as ‘riding on the sheep’s back’; that is, the country’s wealth was derived from the wool industry. As a result of this large and lucrative industry many terms relating to wool and shearing are used in Australia. A number of these terms have now been added to OxfordDictionaries.com including: wool-blind (of a sheep: having wool growing over the eyes); wool classer (a person who grades fleeces after shearing); wool roller (a person whose job is trimming shorn fleeces and rolling them up ready for grading); and wool scour (an establishment where raw wool is washed to remove dirt and natural grease).
Words from Aboriginal languages
There have been numerous terms borrowed into Australian English from a number of the Aboriginal languages spoken in Australia. A large proportion of these terms relate to fauna and flora, including kangaroo, which forms the basis of a number of compounds included in this update (see above). There are also a number of terms relating to Aboriginal culture and ritual, some of which have now been added to OxfordDictionaries.com, including: kadaitcha shoes (shoes made of emu feathers which are worn by a kadaitcha man); maban (an Aboriginal healer believed to have spiritual powers); makarrata (an Aboriginal ceremonial ritual symbolizing the restoration of peace after a dispute; a treaty or agreement); mindi (in Aboriginal mythology: a creature in the form of a huge snake that brings disease); pukamani pole (a decorated pole used in burial rituals by the Tiwi people of Bathurst and Melville Islands); and wilgie (the pigment red ochre used to paint the body on ceremonial occasions).