Woroni Words’ Time to Shine

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In news that made it all the way to The New York Times, the Australian National Dictionary – produced right here on campus at the Australian National Dictionary Centre – recently released its second edition. Words and phrases like “Goon of Fortune,” “budgie smugglers” and “Canberran” are now immortalised. As if this weren’t enough, in an extra win for ANU students, our very own Woroni has been cited 44 times as a historical print source, according to Chief Editor Dr Bruce Moore.  

One of the features that sets the Australian National Dictionary apart is its basis on “historical principles”. As Dr Moore explains, this, among other things, entails “that the bulk of the dictionary is made up of short quotations from books, newspapers, diaries, etc., that demonstrate how a word has been used over time.” That’s where Woroni comes in. “Bush Week,” for example, is cited as appearing in Woroni in 1960, in the sentence: “I would like to use your columns to express my gratitude to the organisers of ‘Bush Week’.”

Some of the quotes are so intriguing that it’s like the Australian National Dictionary is trying to lure you into studying lexicography (dictionary making). The quote cited with the entry for “Boganity” (the quality of being bogan), for example, is:

“Sure it will be difficult to liberate them from their false consciousness without stripping away their distinct Boganity.”

Whose Boganity? Queanbeyanites’? What is this false consciousness from which they need to be liberated? Have they since succeeded? Become a lexicographer to find out all this and more!

My personal favourite Woroni contribution is the citation for “Dunny paper”. In 1975, Woroni published the story:

“Anyway one day we were all sittin’ in the dunny smokin’ some junk we thought was that drug stuff, when Penelope who was sittin’ on the furthest throne yelled out that there should be finger holes in dunny paper for people who like to scratch their bum while they’re wipin’ it.”

If that Penelope person didn’t receive a university medal then, what even is the point.

What all this really shows is that you don’t have to be a fancy-pants writer in order to be a legitimate source. As Dr Moore puts it, “dictionary makers will accept any words, as long as the evidence is there.” So even though language-snobs may scoff at your use of “ranga” and “mugachino,” just know that the dictionary makers have your back.

Photo credit: CityNews