The World's First Multi-National eBook! 
Life Begins at 80...on the Internet
(Casting the Net from Au to Za)

Search the Internet

HomeIntroductionNew StoriesSubscribeRecent Stories
IndexSearchAbout UsGraypow
Guest Map


Our recent stories about Australian and New Zealand words, some in this e-book, others in A Word A Day have prompted comments from readers around the world.

Here are some of the interesting emails we've received:

I loved the story of John Furphy and plan to use the expression 3x over the next 3 days and try to start of run of it here in DC, where it is CERTAINLY a useful world.
- Pat Solley, Washington DC.

I took two days to grasp the full significance of "furphy". It was the direct progenitor of the office water cooler, and therefore the internet bulletin board. Must admit that "furphy" was not previously in my vocabulary... "Fossick" had migrated from Australia to upper New York State, where I spent my formative years. A septugenarian High School English teacher told me, "Arthur, stop fossicking around and get to work." When Australians "yabber", the English "natter", and we Statesmen "jabber." I have been saying "fair dinkum" and "stone the crows" ever since I rubbed elbows with Aussies during the Big One (WW II). Affectation on my part I know. Anyhow, well done, Mate.
- Art Rogers, Denver, Colorado.

It's not a furphy that I thoroughly enjoyed your yabbering away with dinkum words that have been fossicked from I now know where. Many thanks for the insights!
- Peter Adams, Melbourne, Australia.

Greetings from México! I was catching up on my E-mail today and read the note about the kangaroo. I recall reading a long time ago that kangaroo meant "I don't understand". According to that story Cook asked what those animals jumping on the horizon were and the Aborigines answered "kangoroo (I don't understand)". ¿Is this just a legend?
- Frederick-Lee Armstrong, Mexico. [Yes, apparently it's just a legend - ES]

I commend you on that excellent word, 'wowser'. I have an acquaintance who often uses the word wowser as an exclamation of wonder, as in "Wowser, youse guys are awesome!" Now, thanks to your diligence in word detecting, I can send him the proper meaning of the word.
- Beth Lock, Hurricane, Utah.

Re yabber. What about the more obvious possibility of a connection to "jabber?"
- Chris Johansen, North Carolina.
[There may well be a connection between yabber and jabber, but I favor the aboriginal version. Jabber was derived from 15th century Middle English jaberen, and means to speak rapidly or indistinctly. There's no way by which the aborigines could have heard of it before the white man's arrival in Australia, as they had no written language. Yabber has a much wider meaning: to talk; converse. - E.S.]

Another U.S. web visitor, Jim Horan, added to our knowledge of the jackelope. We'd reported that it was "a mythical horned rabbit. Douglas Herrick and his brothers, who ran a taxidermy store in Douglas, Wyoming, in the 1930s, were said to have mounted the horns of a pronghorn antelope on to the body of a jack rabbit, which they exhibited as a jackalope. Since then, their firm has sold thousands of them, and Douglas has become America's jackalope capital."

Jim said: "Perhaps in keeping with the whole Jackalope mystique, the horns that are used are actually from a Mule Deer. The horns of an antelope are too thick and short branched to fit with the head of a jack rabbit."

Then there was the Kiwis' use of the word "dairy" when referring to a corner store. English-born Ian Scott-Parker, now living in Utah, where he runs the outstanding photo website One Day at a Time, said: "Dairy is a common name tag in parts of Scotland, too: I was in Blantyre (birthplace of David Livingstone, the explorer) and asked someone where I could buy milk. I was directed to 'the dairy', which turned out to be a Pakistani dry goods store, where milk was unobtainable. I bought one of those triangular pastry things with a spicy vegetable filling, and ended up with severe heartburn, which was the exact opposite of the reason why I was originally trying to buy milk. I think Livingstone probably found his African adventures relatively straightforward."

Thanks to all you correspondents for your interesting and entertaining contributions.

Copyright © 2003

Eric Shackle

Story first posted December 2003

HomeIntroductionNew StoriesSubscribeRecent Stories
IndexSearchAbout UsGraypow
Guest Map

  Designed, maintained and hosted by
BDB Web Designs
  Accuse, Abuse or Amuse  
The Web Master