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Irregular Podcast! #7

2007-03-26: Irregular Podcast! #7 - "There was movement at the station." (5:12, 1.19 MB)


WARNING: Do not operate heavy machinery for up to eight hours after listening to this podcast.

All rise, for the national anthem of Australia.

[opening theme]

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in Nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page let every stage
Advance Australia fair.
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let, us all combine
To advance, Australia fair.
In joyful strains, then let us sing yes let us sing
Advance Australia fair!

DMM: Welcome to another Irregular Podcast! Today we're going to discuss a topic dear to my heart: Australian English, and the common misperceptions that other English speakers have about its characteristic qualities. Joining me for the discussion is Professor Jack Bandicoot, the head of the Department of Australian English at the University of Sydney. Welcome, Professor Bandicoot, thank you for coming in today.

Prof. Bandicoot: My absolute pleasure, I assure you.

DMM: No doubt you are aware of the fact that many people around the globe regard the Australian dialect as being so full of peculiarities as to be almost opaque to comprehension.

Prof. Bandicoot: Indeed, yes.

DMM: As an expert in the subject, is there any truth to this reputation?

Prof. Bandicoot: No, it's a complete furphy.[1]

DMM: So as a country, what can we do about it? Should we just cop it sweet?[2]

Prof. Bandicoot: No, bugger that for a joke.[3] We can't have mug lairs[4] telling porkies[5] about us like that. I mean, fair crack of the whip![6]

DMM: Where do you think this undeserved bad rap comes from?

Prof. Bandicoot: I got a Captain Cook[7] first hand one time. Some septic[8] blow-in[9] tried to crack on to[10] a true blue[11] sheila[12] over a counter lunch[13]. Being your typical flash Jack[14], naturally he came a gutser[15]. "Don't come the raw prawn[16] with me," she said, and gave him the flick[17]. He went berko[18] and got into an argy-bargy[19] with the blokes[20] there.

DMM: So he did his nana[21] and got into a barney?[22]

Prof. Bandicoot: That's what I just said. It was on for young and old.[23] Anyway, the wuss[24] took off.[25] One bloke had had enough of this shonky[26] sook[27] and coathangered[28] him at the door.

DMM: Pearler![29]

Prof. Bandicoot: Yeah. So, he was rooted[30] after that; had a face like a half-sucked mango.[31]

DMM: Not worth a crumpet[32], eh?

Prof. Bandicoot: Too right[33]. Anyway, when this galah[34] gets up, he's useless as a two-bob watch.[35] He spits the dummy[36] and shoots through like a Bondi tram.[37]

DMM: Fair suck of the sav![38]

Prof. Bandicoot: Yeah, but next thing I know, this whinger's[39] dobbed[40] to his mates and white-anted[41] the place!

DMM: Strewth,[42] he must have had a roo loose in the top paddock![43]

Prof. Bandicoot: Strike me lucky![44] It's money for old rope.[45] So you see, that's how things got pear-shaped[46].

DMM: And here we are, busting a gut[47] like a wood and water joey[48] to hold our end up.[49]

Prof. Bandicoot: Stiffen the wombats![50] Let me tell you how easy it is to communicate in Strine.[51] One time I was tooling[52] along the bitumen[53], flat chat[54], listening to the gee-gees[55] on the trannie[56] - I like a bit of a flutter[57] you know -

DMM: Don't we all!

Prof. Bandicoot: So anyway, here I am, living the life of Riley[58], when the donk[59] goes bung![60]

DMM: Hooley dooley![61]

Prof. Bandicoot: So I lob into[62] a garage, pop the bonnet[63], and tell the drongo[64] I need to hit the frog,[65] but my donk's stuffed.[66] He was fit as a Mallee bull[67], but full as a goog[68] - completely tanked.[69]

DMM: Legless?[70]

Prof. Bandicoot: Blotto.[71] Three sheets to the wind.[72] This grog[73] artist[74] was on the white lady[75] and had a mouth as dry as the bottom of a cocky's cage.[76] Dry as a dead dingo's donger.[77] Tried to cadge[78] a fag[79] to suck on, but I told the bludger[80] to stop shilly-shallying[81] and have a butcher's[82] at my donk. Things are crook in Tallarook,[83] I said, get cracking![84]

DMM: Did he give it a burl?[85]

Prof. Bandicoot: Half your luck![86] He wouldn't work in an iron lung.[87] He was all mouth and trousers.[88]

DMM: Thought it was Bush week?[89]

Prof. Bandicoot: Too right.[90] I asked where the dunny[91] was and went to see a man about a dog,[92] getting more and more ropeable.[93] I was about to go hammer and tongs[94] on him, enough to rot his rabbit rissole,[95] but on my Nelly,[96] he'd come up trumps.[97]

DMM: Come off the grass![98]

Prof. Bandicoot: Fair dinkum![99] Then to boot,[100] he invites me in for tucker[101] with the trouble:[102] chook[103] and damper,[104] with a dirty great[105] pav[106] and quangers[107] for afters.[108]

DMM: Ridgy didge?[109] That's grouse.[110] A real bottler.[111]

Prof. Bandicoot: Bloody oath.[112] I didn't want to stir the possum,[113] but I had to ask if my donk would chuck it in,[114] if he'd done a Claytons[115] on it, and it'd go cactus.[116]

DMM: If he was trying to flick it on?[117]

Prof. Bandicoot: Right. "Suck it and see,"[118] he says, "she'll be apples.[119] She's jake,[120] mate." So we nutted out[121] a few quid,[122] pair of lobsters,[123] and I did a Harold.[124] "Sorry to pike,"[125] I said, but I had to get my strides[126] back of Bourke[127] that arvo.[128]

DMM: And the donk?

Prof. Bandicoot: Fit for rego![129] I was stoked.[130]

DMM: Hmmm. I see your point. So next time some wowser[131] gives us heaps[132] for talking Strine...

Prof. Bandicoot: Tell the bastards[133] to go to buggery![134]

DMM: Thanks heaps[135] for popping round,[136] Professor.

Prof. Bandicoot: No wuckers.[137]

DMM: Hooroo.[138]

[closing theme]

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in Nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page let every stage
Advance Australia fair.
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let, us all combine
To advance, Australia fair.
In joyful strains, then let us sing yes let us sing
Advance Australia fair!


Interviewer - David MM.
Professor Jack Bandicoot - Andrew S.
Anthem singers - David MM, David K, Andrew S, Andrew C.

Programme Notes

1. furphy - a misrepresentation or untruth.
2. cop it sweet - to accept something as just punishment to oneself for an acknowledged error or shortcoming.
3. bugger that for a joke - I'm not putting up with that; it's unfair, undeserved, and I won't stand for it.
4. mug lair - combination of mug (foolish or stupid) and lair (someone with a high opinion of themself or who is overly ostentatious, flashy, or showy). The common juxtaposition of these two terms emphasises all aspects of them.
5. porkie - a lie, usually a deliberate, calculated, highly deceitful lie told for nefarious, highly immoral - and often criminal - purposes. Rhyming slang. Lie = pork pie, shortened to porkie.
6. fair crack of the whip - an appeal to be fair and/or compassionate in cases where one is downtrodden, persecuted, or just plain unlucky.
7. Captain Cook - a look, an observation, an optical inspection, an ocular survey, to see something with your own two eyes. Rhyming slang.
8. septic - American. Rhyming slang. An American is a Yankee, which is shortened to a Yank, which rhymes with septic tank, which is shortened to septic. Americans do not consider all Americans to be Yankees, but Australians do.
9. blow-in - an uninvited guest, a person who drops in for a visit when you least expect or want them to.
10. crack on to - an attempt, usually by a male, to engage another person, usually a female, in conversation as a prelude to initiating manoeuvres aimed at the eventual amorous interaction of said second person by said first person.
11. true blue - genuinely Australian.
12. sheila - woman, lady, female, bird, dame, broad, chick, skirt. You get the idea.
13. counter lunch - a meal served at the counter of a pub, usually of a basic type, consisting of steak and vegetables, or maybe a hamburger in the modern day.
14. flash Jack - a real mug lair, only perhaps even a bit more lairy.
15. come a gutser - to fail spectacularly and perhaps even dangerously. Often accompanied by laughter from watching friends.
16. don't come the raw prawn - don't try to deceive me like that, I'm aware of your disingenuousness, that naïve act won't fool me, I know what you are up to and it won't work, so don't bother trying. This negative, admonishing form is the most common usage of this idiom seen in the modern day, but descends from an original usage of raw prawn simply to refer to an act of deception or a lie that is blatantly and obviously far-fetched and more than likely to be untrue, or alternatively to a situation that is blatantly unfair and corrupt.
17. give someone the flick - to dismiss someone, to tell them to get lost, to make it clear in no uncertain terms that one is not interested in pursuing any further social interaction with that person.
18. berko - angry, crazy, mad, often in a loud and violent manner. Shortened form of berserk.
19. argy-bargy - a fight, a tussle, a brawl, a scrap, a rumble, a punch-up, an altercation, an engagement, fisticuffs, a good old donnybrook, physical violence occasioned by people attempting to hit one another with clenched fists, and maybe feet, and perhaps chairs too if they're available.
20. bloke - man, gentleman, male, chap, fella, guy.
21. do one's nana - to lose one's temper, to become incensed and violently angry. The nana refers to a banana, not one's grandmother. Our slang isn't that depraved.
22. barney - a fight, a tussle, a brawl, a scrap, a rumble, a punch-up, an altercation, an engagement, fisticuffs, a good old donnybrook, physical violence occasioned by people attempting to hit one another with clenched fists, and maybe feet, and perhaps chairs too if they're available. An argy-bargy in other words.
23. it was on for young and old - the situation got out of control, it descended into chaos, people were all over the place, anything and everything was happening, there was no sense of order. It was probably some sort of argy-bargy, or maybe a barney.
24. wuss - a coward, with slight overtones of laziness, someone who would do anything to avoid violence or anything that might be difficult or cause hardship.
25. take off - to depart quickly, to take one's leave at a pace notably faster than normal for some reason.
26. shonky - of questionable morals and motives, misrepresents things for one's own personal gain, takes advantage of other people, engages in dubious business practices, cooks the books, would sell one's own grandmother given half a chance.
27. sook - a crybaby, one who sulks when things don't go their way, one who complains beyond reason and acts the victim when things go wrong.
28. coathanger - to incapacitate someone by sticking an arm out at head height as they attempt to run past, causing their head or neck to collide with the arm, knocking them off their feet and very likely injuring them. This comes from a (now outlawed) tackling style seen sometimes in games of rugby or Australian rules football.
29. pearler - something really good, excellent, fantastic, wonderful, good news.
30. rooted - in a less than ideal state, not at one's best, in fact completely screwed. Root means pretty much the same as another four-letter word that will not be repeated here, in all its multifarious colourful contexts, although it's substantially less obscene. One can gather the correct meaning of rooted by a very simple direct comparison.
31. face like a half-sucked mango - having a face like, well, like a half-sucked mango. Pretty ugly.
32. not worth a crumpet - of little to no value, or more metaphorically to be incapacitated, ineffectual, useless, or otherwise not fit for its intended purpose.
33. too right - an expression of agreement, affirmation, and approval.
34. galah - literally, a species of Australian parrot. Metaphorically, a fool, a simpleton, an idiot.
35. useless as a two-bob watch - completely useless, of no value whatsoever. Two-bob was originally slang for two shillings (a bob being a shilling, of course). When Australia changed to decimal currency in 1966, the term carried over on to the equivalent 20 cent coin, which are still known as "two-bob".
36. spit the dummy - to lose one's temper and throw a tantrum. So named because babies spit their dummy (the common Australian word for what is known as a pacifier in the US) out when they throw a tantrum.
37. shoot through like a Bondi tram - to leave somewhere quickly. To "shoot through" is to leave in a hurry. The Bondi tram is the old tram that used to run from the centre of Sydney to Bondi and the beach there. This tram line closed in 1960.
38. fair suck of the sav - an appeal to be given a fair chance, or simply an exclamation of disbelief at a perceived injustice. A sav is a saveloy, a type of spiced sausage.
39. whinger - one who habitually complains over and above a degree that a more reasonable person would consider in keeping with with the actual amount of hardship being suffered, a complainer, a squealer, a whiner.
40. dob - to tell on someone, to rat them out, to turn traitor, to tattle, to grass on, to blow the whistle, to sing, to give the game away.
41. white-ant - to deliberately spread false rumours about something in order to negatively affect its reputation or popularity.
42. strewth - a generic exclamation of surprise, shock, disbelief, support, affirmation... almost anything, really. Originally a contraction of "God's truth" and used mostly as a way of swearing that somethigng is true, but has become much more generic.
43. roo loose in the top paddock - crazy, mad, insane, a few cards short of a deck, lost one's marbles, not playing with a full deck, mad as a cut snake, mad as a gum-tree full of galahs. A roo is a kangaroo; a paddock is a field for grazing livestock.
44. strike me lucky - a generic exclamation of surprise, shock, disbelief, support, affirmation. Strewth!
45. money for old rope - a sure thing, a certainty, something you wouldn't hesitate to bet on.
46. pear-shaped - messy, awry, horribly wrong, on the wrong track, up a gum tree, up shit creek without a paddle in a barbed wire canoe.
47. bust a gut - to work very hard, to do one's utmost, to spare no effort, to go to great lengths, to pull out all the stops, to bend over backwards, to move heaven and earth
48. wood and water joey - a slave, a servant, a gopher, one who performs menial jobs. A joey is of course a baby kangaroo. Which explains a lot.
49. hold one's end up - to do one's fair share of the work, to carry one's weight, to contribute equitably.
50. stiffen the wombats - strike me lucky. Strewth.
51. Strine - the Australian dialect. It's simply the monosyllabic pronunciation of "Australian".
52. tool - to move very fast, to speed.
53. bitumen - road, specifically a paved road, in contrast to an unpaved or dirt road.
54. flat chat - really truly very fast indeed, hell for leather, full pelt, flat out like a lizard drinking.
55. gee-gee - a horse, an animal of the equine persuasion. "The gee-gees" refers to horse racing.
56. trannie - a radio. Short for "transistor".
57. flutter - a bet, a wager, a payment of cash in return for the promise that if a particular unknown future event occurs that the party accepting the payment will return the payment with an additional amount dependent on the amount paid in the first place and the agreed odds of the future event happening.
58. life of Riley - a life of ease and leisure, the good life.
59. donk - engine, particularly of a car or a boat.
60. bung - broken, not working, in a state of disrepair, stuffed, buggered, rooted.
61. hooley dooley - stiffen the wombats. Strike me lucky. Strewth.
62. lob into - to arrive at a place, usually unannounced or unexpected.
63. bonnet - or "hood", for Americans.
64. drongo - a complete and utter galah.
65. frog - road. To hit the frog is to hit the road, i.e. to depart by driving. Rhyming slang. "Frog and toad", shortened to frog.
66. stuffed - bung.
67. fit as a Mallee bull - extremely fit, in excellent condition. The Mallee is a region of northern Victoria, near the lower reaches of the Murray River, with a primarily agricultural economy. Bulls from the region are presumably very fit.
68. full as a goog - very full, sated, could not fit another morsel in, stuffed (though not bung), chockers. Often used merely to refer to food consumption, but in context can also refer to a state of drunkenness. A goog is an egg, short for "googy-egg".
69. tanked - drunk, full as a goog.
70. legless - tanked.
71. blotto - legless.
72. three sheets to the wind - blotto.
73. grog - alcohol, usually cheap alcohol.
74. artist - one who specialises at or is good at performing or habitually engages in some particular function or action - not necessarily art in any normal sense of the word. Most often appended to a noun, to create a compound indicating a person who engages in some activity with the noun in quetion. For example, a bull artist habitually spouts bull, a grog artist habitually drinks grog.
75. white lady - methylated spirits used as a cheap form of drinking alcohol.
76. dry as the bottom of a cocky's cage - very dry. A cocky is a cockatoo. When kept in captivity, the bottom of the cocky's cage is lined with newspaper for ease of cleaning, and becomes covered with discarded seed cases and guano. It's pretty dry.
77. dry as a dead dingo's donger - also very dry. A donger is a penis. Dead dingoes presumably have very dry dongers.
78. cadge - beg, mooch, sponge, "borrow" with no intention of ever paying back.
79. fag - cigarette.
80. bludger - one who bludges, naturally. To bludge is to avoid working, more or less surreptitiously. This is in common, modern use, and one can judge accurately the connotations of bludging by noting that a common term in Australia for surfing the Internet while at work is cyberbludging.
81. shilly-shally - procrastinate, vacillate, hesitate, be indecisive, be slow to act.
82. butcher's - a look. Rhyming slang. "Butcher's hook".
83. things are crook in Tallarook - it's a bad situation, things are not looking good. Crook is a general word meaning in a poor state, a state of disrepair, unfit or unwell - it is often used to describe a person's poor health, but has more general application as well. Tallarook is a town in Victoria of so little consequence that it doesn't have a Wikipedia article.
84. get cracking - get to work, start working.
85. give it a burl - have a go, make an attempt.
86. half your luck - I wish, I wish I had half your luck. Also simply congratulations, well done, etc., not necessarily with an overtone of envy.
87. wouldn't work in an iron lung - extremely lazy.
88. all mouth and trousers - loudmouthed and pushy, showy, pretentious, a real lair.
89. Bush week - a fictitious holiday week when, apparently, anything goes. Anything seems to be allowed during Bush week, because it's most commonly used in the rejoinder to someone doing something that is normally frowned upon: What do you think this is? Bush week?
90. too right - indeed, yes.
91. dunny - toilet.
92. go to see a man about a dog - a generic explanation given when departing to avoid telling people what you are actually doing. Usually used as a euphemism for either going to get drunk or going to the toilet.
93. ropeable - angry, enraged, so worked up and potentially violent that one needes to be restrained with ropes.
94. hammer and tongs - with great vigour and effort, full on, full tilt, full burl, flat out, flat chat.
95. rot one's rabbit rissole - actually, I've never heard this one before at all. It was in one of my collections of Australian slang, but without a detailed explanation. A rissole is simply a fried spiced meat patty, kind of like a hamburger patty. Presumably having your rabbit rissole rot is undesirable.
96. on one's Nelly - upon one's word, by one's troth.
97. come up trumps - everything turned out for the best.
98. come off the grass - you're kidding, you don't say, my word, heavens to betsy.
99. fair dinkum - either true blue, or just simply true. Used as a general exclamation along the lines of hooley dooley, stiffen the wombats, strike me lucky, strewth.
100. to boot - as well, for good measure, and into the bargain, and so on and so forth.
101. tucker - food.
102. trouble - wife. Rhyming slang. "Trouble and strife".
103. chook - chicken.
104. damper - a type of camp bread made simply with flour, water, and a pinch of salt, typically baked under hot coals.
105. dirty great - really big. Not actually dirty.
106. pav - pavlova.
107. quanger - a baby quince.
108. afters - dessert.
109. ridgey didge - fair dinkum.
110. grouse - excellent, really good, fabulous. Interestingly, as a verb, to grouse is to complain, to whinge.
111. bottler - grouse, pearler.
112. bloody oath - fair dinkum, hooley dooley, stiffen the wombats, strike me lucky, strewth.
113. stir the possum - stir up trouble, raise an inconvenient issue, mention a negative possibility that people would rather ignore.
114. chuck it in - go bung.
115. Clayton's - fake, faux, not the real thing. From a moderately popular non-alcoholic drink mixer brand name.
116. cactus - bung, broken, over, dead and buried, pear-shaped.
117. flick it on - to try to deceive, to pull the wool over one's eyes, to misrepresent the truth.
118. suck it and see - try it and see if it works.
119. she'll be apples - it will be all right, it will work, don't worry, nothing will go wrong.
120. she's jake - she'll be apples.
121. nut out - to discuss and come to an agreement.
122. quid - a dollar.
123. lobster - $20 note. So called because of its distinctive orange-red colour.
124. Harold - to depart quickly. Rhyming slang. "Harold Holt", rhymes with "bolt", shortened to "Harold". Harold Holt was the Prime Minister of Australia until his mysterious disappearance and presumed death in the surf off a Victorian beach in 1967. His body was never found. Conspiracy theories abound regarding this event, ranging from abduction by communist bloc submarines, through his planned defection to a foreign power, to the involvement of aliens. Harold Holt is the JFK of Australian conspiracy theory.
125. pike - to beg out of something with some excuse, especially if the excuse may be seen as inadequate.
126. strides - pants, trousers.
127. back of Bourke - an indeterminate remote location somewhere in the middle of Australia. Bourke is a town beyond which there's pretty much nothing but desert.
128. arvo - afternoon.
129. rego - motor vehicle registration. In order to be registered, vehicles must pass a strict roadworthiness inspection. Cars on Australian roads are in much better condition than cars in some other countries where the roadworthiness requirements are less strict or nonexistent.
130. stoked - immensely pleased.
131. wowser - a killjoy, someone who desires to impose their own strict moral standards on the activities of others.
132. give one heaps - to criticise or to abuse.
133. bastard - a very complicated word in Australian English, which can be used as a generic term of abuse and low regard, without the connotations of illegitimate parenthood, or as an affectionate term of address to one's friends. An Australian can get away with calling his friends bastards, but if you're not Australian, do not try it.
134. go to buggery - got to hell, go to blazes, get lost, rack off.
135. heaps - a lot, lots, a dirty great amount.
136. pop round - to drop in for a visit, often unannounced but not necessarily.
137. no wuckers - it's not a problem, no really it's my pleasure, no worries, you're welcome.
138. hooroo - so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

Irregular Webcomic! | Darths & Droids | Planet of Hats | mezzacotta | Lightning Made of Owls | Square Root of Minus Garfield | The Dinosaur Whiteboard | The Prisoner of Monty Hall | Comments on a Postcard | Awkward Fumbles
Last updated: Friday, 28 August, 2009; 16:11:07 PDT.
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