READERS LOVE FURPHIES
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
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.
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.
Re yabber. What about the more obvious possibility of a connection to
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.