Monday, July 17, 2023



The following poem is for Ron and Barb in the US, with a glossary and some comments that might interest all of us.


The poem:

A Bit of Australian Slang

By Stephen Curtis, 2012

Strewth mate, you sprung me fair
I was just having a sickie
The weather's nice to go for a swim
So grabbed me cossies and spare daks
Behind I left the little Vegemites
The missus there to mind them
Jumped into me Kingswood and bugger me
The bloody thing was on the blink
Fair dinkum mate, I tell no lie
I'm not one who wants to skite
The trouble and strife came out to fix
With hammer banged under the bonnet
'Give it a burl' she soon yelled
And blow me the old girl started
Quick as a wink I'm off you see
The big drink is calling me
So here I am with the rank and file
Trying to have a bit of peace
Now with all the trouble that I've had
You give me my walking papers
Mate, I think you're off your trolley
So take your job and just quietly
You can shove it where the sun don't shine


Glossary and comments:

A mild oath expressing surprise
‘Strewth/struth’ began as a euphemism for ‘God’s truth’.

Caught in the act of doing something wrong

To take a day off from work for ill health when one is not ill.
Sickie is an abbreviation of the term sick leave, and illustrates a distinctive feature of Australian English — the addition of -ie or -y to abbreviated words or phrases.

A swimming costume or a pair of swimming trunks.
Australians use a variety of terms to describe their bathing attire, including ‘cossies’ (a shortened version of ‘costumes’) and ‘togs’, which is an abbreviation of the 16th-Century word ‘togeman’, meaning coat. The term ‘togs’ was first recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1708, and was considered part of the language of the criminal underworld. By the late 1700s, it had become slang for clothes, and many travelling to Australia on the First Fleet, which brought the first white settlers to Australia in 1788, would have used the word this way. However, its first recorded use in relation to swimming attire was in a 1918 magazine of the Australian and New Zealand armed forces. By 1930, in Australia the term had lost its meaning of clothes, and was used exclusively for swimwear.

In Australia daks became used as a generic term for trousers from the 1960s. The two words appear in the compound trackie daks (tracksuit pants) in 1993 and, whether you love them or deride them as daggy, they are Australia's favourite leisure wear.

A play on the word mites, probably from the original 1953 Vegemite ad. See it by clicking on:

Wife (Mrs)
The courtesy title “Mrs.” showed up in the late 1400s as a shortening of “mistress,” which meant a woman in authority or a female head of a household.

Car manufactured by Holden between 1968 and 1984.

Bugger me:
An expression of surprise

On the blink:
Not working
It is famously alleged that the last words of King George V were "Bugger Bognor", in response to a suggestion that he might recover from his illness and visit Bognor Regis.

Fair dinkum:
In Australia and New Zealand.: ‘Dinkum’ neans authentic, genuine. often used with ‘fair’.

The slang "fair dinkum" was reputedly coined by Chinese miners in the goldrush days. In Cantonese, Din Kum loosely translates as 'true gold". Word has it that "Fair Dinkum" was a response of the early Chinese goldminers to the question: "Are you finding a fair amount of gold?"

Boast, brag about oneself

Touble and strife:
Cockney rhyming slang

A try, attempt, usually in the phrase 'give it a burl', meaning to make an attempt at, to try (a task or activity).
Probably a blend of the Scottish colloquial expressions 'have a bash' and 'give it a whirl'. Give it a burl is one of many Australian expressions given currency in Britain by the cartoon strip The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, written by Barry Humphries, which ran in the satirical magazine Private Eye between 1965 and 1974. Some of the more colourful of these expressions were in fact coined, or embellished, by Humphries himself, but this phrase was well established in Australia by the early 1960s.

The big drink:
The ocean

Walking papers:
The term 'get your walking papers' originates in the prison system. When an inmate is discharged, he or she is given papers that document the validity of the release.

Off your trolley:
Behaving in an extremely unusual way or doing something very silly
Off one’s rocker and off one’s trolley describe someone who is crazy or mad, someone who behaves oddly or has weird ideas. The terms off one’s rocker and off one’s trolley came into use in the 1890s and are both most probably related to the operation of a trolley. Trolleys operate by running along overhead electric cables that attach to a metal arm on top of the cab. In the early days of mass transportation, these arms would often lurch off the electric cable. Once disconnected from the electric cable, a trolley has no source of power. Many believe that off one’s rocker is somehow related to the rocking chair. However, the fact that both off one’s rocker and off one’s trolley came into use at the same time, there seems to be a strong correlation.

Shove it where the sun don’t shine:
Up or in the anus
The phrase seems only to have been recorded since the 1970s. ‘'Where the sun don't shine' is the anus. The phrase is therefore no more than a euphemism for 'shove it / stick it up your arse.’. It also appears in a 1976 novel as a variation, 'where the skin turns pink'.

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