4 August 2021

Know what having a Barry Crocker is? The ANU wants your best rhyming slang!

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison wearing Australian flag face mask

Rhyming slang: more Australian than booing the prime minister. Photo: Facebook.

Do you know what it means to do a Harold Holt, or have a Barry Crocker?

Aussie slang may not be as prolific in Canberra as in other parts of Australia, but the wordsmiths at the Australian National University (ANU) are calling on you to come up with your best phrases for the Australian National Dictionary.

No, we’re not pulling your Mal Meninga (finger)!

For people out of the loop, rhyming slang is where normal words are substituted with rhyming words, names or phrases.

So ‘shocker’ becomes ‘Barry Crocker’, ‘undies’ becomes ‘Reg Grundies’, and ‘goal’ becomes ‘sausage roll’.

Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) senior researcher and editor Mark Gwynn says rhyming slang likely emerged in east London towards the middle of the 1800s and found its way to Australia soon afterwards.

“By the end of the 20th century, a distinct form of Australian rhyming slang had emerged, giving Cockney slang a unique Aussie twist, such as ‘Dad ‘n’ Dave’ for shave, ‘Noah’s Ark’ for shark, and ‘Merv Hughes’ for shoes,” he said.

“We know this form of slang is still used in Australia from its occurrence on internet chat sites and sports commentary in particular, but it doesn’t often appear in print.

“We hope this appeal will help us identify the extent to which it is still used, and alert us to new rhyming slang terms to add to our database for possible inclusion in the dictionary.”

Each year, ANDC runs an appeal for contributions from the public for the Australian National Dictionary to build on the publication’s collection of Australian words and their origins.

The dictionary’s chief editor, Dr Amanda Laugesen, said she is looking forward to the best words Australians can come up with as the centre continues to compile new Australianisms.

“Contributions from the public are a very important way of alerting us to new words, or words that may have been overlooked in the past,” she said.

“We look forward to seeing what we discover with this latest appeal.”

People with ideas for new slang words can contribute by tweeting @ozworders on Twitter.

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HiddenDragon7:54 pm 08 Aug 21

Rhyming slang feels very, very dated – there might have been a few examples in the Minder in Australia episodes and in that mid-century time capsule “They’re a Weird Mob” – but one particular example might be ripe for a comeback –

“…..as I was swiftly-flowing up the field of wheat in the bread-and-jam….”

which translates as “as I was going up the street in a tram”

That’s from the Bulletin of 18 January 1902 (via the mid-60s edition of Sidney J. Baker’s excellent ‘The Australian Language’).

“to get the rough end of the pineapple”

I was happy to get on the hit and miss after Dry July ?

No, it isn’t rhyming slang, but it’s a very apt term.

The radio stations in Sydney went crazy with this a few weeks back. It was some of the worst radio I’ve ever heard.

Rhyming slang is not Australian, it is British. I’ve only ever heard it spoken on the NRL Footy show back in the 1990s. I didn’t like it then and I have an even poorer opinion of it now.

I was wondering, is there any research grant money going towards this? If so then perhaps the system needs a shakeup.

Some Aussie slang is of the rhyming type, but thankfully not all.
Like ‘me lappys cactus” or ankle biter, and buckleys chance.
Esky is another , along with hard yakka.
Rack off and budgie smugglers are in there somewhere.

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