we’re back and beyond

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

*b-ling* is back for 2011. After a brief hiatus, we’re here to bring you assorted linguistics treats for another year. Some of you might have ventured away for the holiday season. Down to the beach or perhaps from the madding crowd?

English has a number of terms for remote rural regions and some of them have some interesting origins. Out in the sticks is a derogatory expression for such areas implying a lack of sophistication in  a  sparsely setlled area. The boondocks, shortened to the boonies apparently from Tagalog bundok ‘mountain’ is said to have entered English via American soldiers stationed there in the 1940s. One of the most distinctive Australianisms is woop woop. Modelled on mock Australian languages where reduplication is a frequent feature, this form seemed to have emerged in the early twentieth century and is even included in the a poem drama, Sheakespeare on the Turf (1923) by the great Banjo Paterson of the man from snowy river fame:

Enter an Owner and a Jockey
OWNER: ‘Tis a good horse. A passing good horse.
JOCKEY: I rose him yesternoon: it seemed to me
That in good truth a fairly speedy cow Might well outrun him.
OWNER: Thou froward varlet; must I say again,
That on the Woop Woop course he ran a mile
In less than forty with his irons on!
JOCKEY: Then thou should’st bring the Woop Woop course down here.
OWNER: Thou pestilential scurvy Knave.
Go to! http://www.famous-poems.org/poems/banjo-paterson-andrew-barton/shakespeare-on-the-turf

New Zealand’s contribution to the derision of the remote and rural is boohai, most often heard in the phrase up the boohai. This seesm to be a deformed version of Puhoi, a region not too far north of Auckland. Some sources suggest that the settlement on Bohemians here helped remodel the Maaori toponym


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