LINGUIST List 15.2205

Tue Aug 3 2004

Review: Sociolinguistics/Lexicography: Jauncey (2004)

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  1. Clemens Fritz, Bardi Grubs and Frog Cakes

Message 1: Bardi Grubs and Frog Cakes

Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 17:14:14 -0400 (EDT)
From: Clemens Fritz <clemens.fritzclemens-fritz.de>
Subject: Bardi Grubs and Frog Cakes

AUTHOR: Jauncey, Dorothy
TITLE: Bardi Grubs and Frog Cakes
SUBTITLE: South Australian Words
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
YEAR: 2004
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-1131.html


Clemens Fritz, Freie Universit´┐Żt Berlin

SUMMARY 

'Bardi Grubs and Frog Cakes' is a short encyclopedia of more or less
regionally restricted Australian words. Not all the words covered are
exclusive to South Australia (SA), but all bear a special relation to
it. The five hundred entries are divided into seven chapters which
cover (1) words from Aboriginal languages, (2) nineteenth century
vocabulary, (3) special mining terms, (4) German loans, (5) vocabulary
from primary industries, (6) Outback vocabulary, and (7) modern and
city terms.

BACKGROUND OF THE BOOK 

The book follows a trend discernible in current research into
Australian English (AusE). Whereas earlier studies have emphasized
AusE's remarkable phonological homogeneity, today's studies look
deeper into regional variation, be it phonological, lexical or
grammatical. Recently, a number of book-length publications of
vocabularies of different Australian states have been published,
e.g. Brooks and Ritchie (1994; Western Australia), Brooks and Ritchie
(1995; Tasmania) and Robertson (2001; Queensland). All of the latter,
as well as Jauncey's book on South Australia, originated in the
Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) and are published by
Oxford University Press (OUP). This is no coincidence, since the ANDC
was founded for the dual purpose of research into AusE and providing
the OUP fleet of dictionaries with lexicographical knowledge. The
project's initial publication was Ramson (1988), the first and
foremost dictionary of Australian National Dictionary (AND) on
historical principles. Whereas Brooks and Ritchie used mainly
selective readings of newspapers between 1950 and 1991, Jauncey's
sources are mostly the ANDC database and Ramson (1988). Newspapers,
interviews and various museums were also used. However, no specifics
are given, neither the size of the corpora nor the method of
investigation. >From the point of view of a scholarly user, this is
disappointing.

STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK 

The dictionary is divided into seven chapters. Each is preceded by an
informative introduction followed by the entries in alphabetical
order. The chapters are very heterogeneous. Two deal with
contributions by specific languages (Aboriginal languages and German),
others concentrate on historical or occupational domains. The last
chapter has current South Australian (SA) terminology from mixed
fields. The policies for counting a term as 'South Australian' differ
from chapter to chapter. But compared to 'Words from the West', they
are spelled out more clearly. Not all words seem to have been
cross-checked with the AND and other sources. For instance, 'wurley'
is said to be first recorded in Kaurna, an Aboriginal language, in
1840. But the AND and Knight (1988) both have English quotes from
1839. Important linguistic research, e.g. by Bryant (1989, 1997), has
also left few traces in the book and the list of works cited in the
reference section is not very long. An example where an entry could
have been improved is 'stobie poles'. These are poles carrying
electricty and telephone lines. Jauncey mentions that the poles are
always made of concrete with sides of steel and that this is due to
SA's lack of suitable timber. Bryant (1989:311), however, documents
that only older Adelaide speakers stated that wooden poles are not
true Stobie poles. A third of the Adelaide residents questioned used
the term indiscriminately.

THE CHAPTERS 

The first chapter is entitled ''The People Before'' and contains words
from Aboriginal Languages. The policy for this chapter was to include
words current or historical in AusE that come from Aboriginal
languages found or extinct in South Australia. In this sense the words
can be called 'South Australian', despite the fact that not all
etymological histories of the entries are waterproof. For example,
some words, like 'mulga' (several kinds of acacia), 'malka' (a shield)
and 'euro' (a kangaroo, not a currency), are documented in several
Aboriginal languages which are totally unrelated, linguistically and
geographically. Short Histories of the twenty-five Aboriginal
languages looked at and some notes on non-English sounds precede the
chapter. The histories are very informed, but make a rather wieldy
introduction. The representation of sounds aims at amateurs using
spellings like 'Ker- NOO-ek Low-END-a' for 'Kernewek Lowender' rather
than IPA. Each entry in the book has the head word(s) in bold face
followed by one or several illustrative quotes. Some go back as far as
to the establishment of the colony, 1836, others come from the third
millenium. After the quotes there is, in most cases, a discussion of
the term which also gives historical details. For example, we learn
that the royal family were served 'witchetty grubs', a wood-eating
larva of a certain moth, during a visit to Australia in 1987. What
they thought about that particular hors d'oeuvres is, however, not
recorded. Most entries in the first chapter, naturally, describe
fauna and flora, people, and implements. Cultural practices are
surprisingly few, the phrase 'Secret women's business' not being found
here, but in the last chapter.

The second chapter 'No Convict Taint' deals with nineteenth century
vocabulary particularly relevant for. The early settlement history is
extensively documented in the introduction. Some entries have become
extinct, e.g. 'secondary town', i.e. a town of lesser importance,
others have become part of general AusE, like 'Croweater', a
derogatory term for a citizen of SA. Few have kept a genuine SA touch,
like 'hundred', an area of one hundred square miles of surveyed
land. It is debatable whether all the terms included are worth being
recorded in such a book. 'Adelaidean' obviously refers to residents of
Adelaide and there is nothing of linguistic or historical interest in
this word. Other questionable entries are 'Destitute Asylum' and
'Destitute Board'. Of course they refer to particular institutions in
early SA, but these can be found in many places in the world under the
same name. Moreover, there is nothing special noted about the
'Destitute Asylum' and the 'Destitute Board'. They are just there and
one wonders why they have been selected when many others, like
'Parliament', 'Supreme Court', etc. are missing. Another strange entry
is 'no convict labour'. This was certainly not a common phrase in
nineteenth century SA and is rightly not portrayed as being one. What
the entry refers to is the fact that SA was a colony that received no
convicts and was proud of this. The information as such is worthwhile
giving and in a cultural dictionary it should be included (though
under a different headword). In a 'Dictionary of South Australian
Words' it seems out of place.

'The Copper Kingdom' is the title of the third chapter. It is
concerned with Cornish and mining terms. These two go together quite
well since immigrants from Cornwall made a large contribution to
nineteenth century copper and general mining in Australia. Much of the
language listed is only of historical (old-fashioned mining
practices/implements) or folkloristic (Cornish customs defunct or
revived) interest. The collection is not as systematic and thorough
as, for instance, Moore's (2000) 'Gold! Gold! Gold!' which is an
excellent dictionary of the specialized terminology of the nineteenth
century Australian gold rushes. Again, some South Australian proper
names and toponyms are included. Curiously the important article by
Fielding and Ramson (1971) of the English of Australia's 'Little
Cornwell' is neither listed in the bibliography nor reflected in the
entries.

Another linguistic minority are covered in chapter four, German
Lutheran settlers. These had emigrated to Australia in the middle of
the nineteenth century in order to escape religious persecution. Like
the Cornish, who lived in 'Australia's little Cornwall', they lived in
'little Germany', a close-knit society. The chapter's introduction
provides an excellent history of these German settlers, with a minor
historical detail going wrong. Jauncey speaks of the unsuccessful 1848
revolution in Prussia which resulted in emigration. But there were
rebellions also in all other German states and the Austrian Empire.
Thus these 'forty-eighters' do not only come from Prussia and they did
not only go to South Australia. The Germans suffered from a wave of
xenophobia during the first World War, when the Australian government
tried to eradicate some German and toponyms in the 1917 'Nomenclature
Act', a decision reversed in 1935. It was also tried to change the
term 'fritz', a German sausage, into 'Austral', much like 'Freedom
Fries' recently in the US. Fortunately, language use often proves
stronger than decrees. Apart from words like 'Liedernacht', a night of
songs, and 'streusel cake', names of well-known wines, like the
'Barossa Pearl', are included.

Next Jauncey moves to primary industry words, mostly to do with wheat,
wool and wine. She admits that not all the terms are unique to SA, but
claims that they have special importance there. Again, some of the
entries are odd. 'Air snips are pneumatic pruning snips that can be
used with grape vines for hand pruning' (p. 137). This piece of
information in itself is unrevealing. Only if the term 'air snips' had
a regional distinction of some kind, it would warrant an
inclusion. But no explanation of the choice is given, no study
mentioned that could prove its importance. The entry also mentions
manual snips and electric snips, but they do not come up as headwords.

'The Outback' chapter contains names of animals ('Lake Eyre Dragon'),
proper names (the 'Ghan' train), toponyms ('AP Lands') and opal mining
('kopi') terms. Needless to say, Gunn's (1971) Opal Terminology is
neither cited nor does it appear to have been consulted. The
encyclopedic information given is interesting and sometimes
exhilarating. For example 'computers' were young women working at the
'Woomera' rocket range in the 1940s and 50s. Apparently these
unmarried computers created some disturbances as 'the haunt of lean
and hungry single males' (p. 174).

The final chapter is a heterogeneous mix. Jauncey uses 'The Lifestyle
State' as a cover term. Unlike the previous sections it contains
current terminology not restricted historically or by speech
community. Entries range from 'Adelaide Cup', a horse race, to
'homette', a single storey small house, and 'Tantanoola tiger', a
certain tiger who had escaped from a circus in 1883 and had captured
many people's imagination. Surprisingly there is an entry for 'at'
since 'South Australians have a reputation for using the preposition
'at' when referring to place names, rather than using 'in' as most
other Australian speakers would do' (p. 202). From the point of view
of a linguist, proof or even references for this claim is sadly
missing, from the point of view of an amateur reader, the one and only
entry referring to a grammatical phenomenon comes rather unexpectedly.

The book finishes with a bibliography and an index. 

CRITICAL EVALUATION 

Jauncey's book is certainly not a dictionary but a short encyclopedia
of select words and things South Australian. Her choices are sometimes
surprising and do not make a coherent or strictly logical book. The
lack of references and scholarly evaluation is certainly owing to the
intended audience. The blurb says: ''Learn what links a sausage, a
boggler and a noodler and be both informed and entertained throughout
this journey through South Australia's peculiar lexicon.'' This shows
that the book is meant for people interested in the history, society
and language of South Australia. For amateurs the information provided
is exhaustive. For professionals it is a starting point.

REFERENCES 

Bryant, Pauline (1989) The south-east lexical usage region of
Australian English. Australian English: The Language of a New Society,
ed. by Peter Collins and David Blair, pp. 301-314. St. Lucia:
University of Queensland Press.

Bryant, Pauline (1997) A dialect survey of the lexicon of Australian
English. English World Wide 18(2) 211-241.

Brooks, Maureen and Joan Ritchie (1994) Words from the West: A
Glossary of Western Australian Terms. Melbourne: Oxford UP.

Brooks, Maureen and Joan Ritchie (1995) Tassie Terms: A Glossary of
Tasmanian Words. Melbourne: Oxford UP.

Fielding, Jeand and W. S. Ramson (1971) The English of Australia's 
'Little Cornwall'. AUMLA 36, 165-173. 

Gunn, John S. (1971) An Opal Terminology. University of Sydney,
Australian Language Research Centre, Occasional Paper 15.

Knight, Anne (1988) South Australian Aboriginal words surviving in
Australian English. Lexicographical and Linguistic Studies: Essays in
Honour of G. W. Turner, ed. by T. L. Burton and Jill Burton, 151-162.
Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer.

Moore, Bruce (2000) Gold! Gold! Gold!: The Language of the Nineteenth
Century Gold Rushes. Melbourne: Oxford UP.

Ramson, William S. (1988) The Australian National Dictionary: A
Dictionary of Australianisms on Historical Principles. Melbourne:
Oxford University Press.

Robertson, Julia (2001) Voices of Queensland: Words from the Sunshine
State.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER 

After studies in Regensburg, Germany, and Galway, Ireland, Clemens
Fritz graduated with a master's degree in English and History. For
almost ten years now he has worked and published on early Australian
English. Currently he is working on his doctoral thesis: "From English
in Australia to Australian English".
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