Monday, June 8, 2015

Some Obscure Aussie Words

All quotes from: Chasing Kangaroos by Tim Flannery

Gunyah, humpy, and wurley are all borrowed words from Australian Aborigines for a temporary shelter, usually built of tree branches and bark. This is comparable to an American wigwam.
It was the remains of an ancient gunyah, though how long the bough shelter had lain decaying there we could not tell.
The yowie is the Australian version of Sasquatch or yeti; a hominid that lives in the wild and is much discussed, but little seen.
They were great, black, shaggy, muscular beasts resembling the mythical yowie.
A bowser is a gas pump at a service station. Interestingly, this term derives from an American inventor's name -- long forgotten in his home country.
As we pulled up to the bowsers, a distracted-looking man standing by his car approached us and began pleading for help.
Mulga is the common name of an acacia, but has been extended to a number of other desert plants, and ultimately to the entire bush or outback.
That evening Bill and I rode on into the waning light for an hour or so before turning off into the mulga.
As with many Aussie terms, the meaning is flexible. Swag might be a sleeping bag, or a tent and sleeping pad, or a rolled up pack of personal belongings. One commonality seems to be a cylindrical shape. The associated swagman is any itinerant traveler or worker.
While [other dwellings] are but a drive in the side of a hill [with] a dusty swag and a caravan stove.
Coolibah is a eucalytus tree derived from one of the many aboriginal languages.
I wanted a closer look, so I placed three [frogs] in a billy that hung from a coolibah.
The dag is the wool sheared from a sheep's tail. Thinking about this for longer than might be wise, we see that this wool is often coated with excrement. Thus this term has been incorporated in many situation where an insult is needed.
The huge specimen had been packed in wool scraps--mostly dags.
Texta is a brand-name in Australia of markers, like Magic Marker or Crayola in the United States. It is often used genericly for any marker.
Written with texta on a piece of cardboard propped beside a humpy, it read "Kev's Camel Capers."
Gibber is an aboriginal word for stone, often a large stone. It is often used as a adjective as in
We headed to Marree, the only town in the salt and gibber country.
Spruiking (probably from the Dutch) means to sell an idea or product, pitch.
Honest John's spruiking of his goods from the back of his gaudily painted van

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Pellucid is a Latinate word meaning clear, transparent that is used in both the literal sense and the figurative one.

In the literal sense it is used in phrases like pellucid sky and pellucid water. Since these adjectives are about the absence of color or interference, they are difficult to infer from context.
...the cacti were highlighted against the pellucid sky.
In the figurative sense, pellucid and lucid are synonyms, both sharing the same Latin roots.

Literally lucid implies light, shining, while pellucid implies that light can pass through.