From musical flags to beach flags

By MARK GWYNN, editor and researcher at the Australian National Dictionary Centre

In the early 1980s as a surf lifesaving nipper (a junior) I always looked forward to the beach flags event at my local surf lifesaving club. The event started with us lying on our stomachs before scrambling to our feet on the starting gun, turning around, and sprinting some 20 metres to grab one of the ‘flags’ set into the sand. Beach flags is an elimination event so there are always fewer flags (in my day 30cm lengths of hosepipe) than competitors – if you miss out on a flag you are eliminated. The eventual winner beats the runner-up to the last flag. As part of a surf lifesaving carnival the event demonstrates important lifesaver skills including running on sand, hand-eye coordination, and aerobic fitness. However, beach flags had a somewhat less serious origin in the early 20th century when it was known as musical flags.

There is some evidence for the term musical flags in the late 19th century in the context of a school sports carnival, but no details are provided. In 1903 a cycling carnival included a musical flags event, described as ‘an amusing novelty race’ (Australian Star, 7 October). There are frequent references to musical flags as a cycling (and sometimes motorcycling) novelty event up to, and throughout, the First World War period. Like the later beach flags, it was an elimination race; competitors on bikes had to sprint to grab a flag once the music had stopped playing. It is more than likely that the concept for musical flags derived from the older party game ‘musical chairs’ in which a number of players compete in successive rounds for a decreasing number of chairs.

The first evidence for the term musical flags in a beach context is from 1919, although the event is not described. In the 1920s novelty events were quite common in all sporting carnivals, including surf carnivals: ‘A new series of beach events for which entries close… has been arranged. These will consist of march past, beach relay, beach sprint, sack race, pillow fight and musical flags.’ (Newcastle Sun, 26 March 1929) Confirmation that the musical flags event was similar to the one I remember from my childhood comes from a spectacular photograph that shows more than a dozen men sprinting to grab one of several real flags (such as the Australian flag, the Union Jack, etc.) set into the sand. The image captures several men diving, or about to dive, for the flags, and some pushing and shoving. The caption reads: ‘A unique photograph illustrative of the life and virile strength to be seen on Australia’s beaches, taken at Cronulla during a surf carnival. The contest is one known as “Musical Flags”.’ (Sydney Mail, 11 January 1928) It is difficult to pinpoint when music ceased to be played for this event, but it was certainly an element in the early years.

There is some evidence from the 1920s of musical flags also being described as the flag race. Certainly by the 1950s flag race was in common use, although it wasn’t until the early 1960s that the term musical flags became obsolete. The term beach flags is found from the 1970s and is now the official and common name for the event. While beach flags has been in the annual Australian Surf Life Saving Championships since 1947, sadly the pillow fight event was scratched in 1979.

This article first appeared in the April edition of Ozwords.

Don’t argue: how advertising gave us a sporting term

By JULIA ROBINSON

A 2017 article on the AFL Grand Final noted that the don’t argue was ‘one of Dustin Martin’s signature moves, so expect to see the “don’t argue” in full force when Richmond takes on Adelaide’. (Melbourne Herald Sun, 25 September 2017) For those who don’t follow Aussie Rules, Rugby League, or Rugby Union, the classic don’t argue is a straight-arm shove, often to an opponent’s face or head, by the player with the ball. The name of the move expresses its intention perfectly: ‘Get out of my way—and don’t argue!’ But what is the origin of this term?

The Herald Sun notes that the term has its origin in print-media advertisements for Hutton’s ham and bacon that ran for decades. A former employee explains the brand’s ‘logo and labels showed a person shoving his hand into the face of another person, with the expression “don’t argue”’. Some readers may know the image: a smiling man with a hat, bowtie, and cane pushes his hand at arm’s length into the face of a bearded man with an illfitting coat and umbrella. They look like vaudeville figures, and the caption reads: Don’t argue! Hutton’s ham is the best. Over the years the caption varies, but the words ‘don’t argue’ remain.

Further research has revealed more of the story. Hutton’s image and slogan is first found in newspaper advertisements in 1911. The company was probably using it the year before (perhaps as a poster), since independent references to its popularity appear in It gained wide public recognition at the time. Newspaper items alluded to it in many contexts, such as surf lifesaving, banking, boxing, horseracing, politics, and religion. A musical quartet and a lawn tennis team both took the name ‘The Don’t Argues’.

There is early evidence of its sporting use: ‘… two bulky opponents were struggling together at a critical moment near the line, when a big, stentorian voice alongside me on the hill roared out: “Get the “don’t argue” on to him!”’ (Sydney Sunday Times, 16 July 1911) It’s unclear if this means a straight-arm shove, but later evidence is plainer: ‘There is no doubt that Harry Caples has the best ‘don’t argue’ fend in Sydney… .’ (Sydney Sportsman, 9 July 1919) The don’t argue became established in the Australian sporting lexicon around this time.

The image of physical confrontation in the advertisement undoubtedly influenced the adoption of the slogan don’t argue as a name for the straight-arm shove. But the image and slogan have an older story—the Hutton company were not the first to use them.

In 1903 and 1904 a London society entertainer, Mel B. Spurr, toured Australia with a one-man show of comic monologues and songs. It was a huge success. One of his advertising handbills, reproduced here, shows a smiling man with his hand in the face of another man. The caption reads: Don’t argue! Go and see Mel. B. Spurr. There is no record of when the handbill was used, but circumstantial evidence suggests it was here in Australia: Harry Spurr’s memoir of his brother includes it in a chapter on the Australian tour, and a copy of the handbill exists in the State Library of Victoria. The image is unmistakably the same as Hutton’s.

Spurr died in 1904; Hutton’s don’t argue advertisements appeared around 1910. There’s no doubt Hutton used Spurr’s image, and this shows in the Hutton artist’s crude copying of the elegant handbill, down to the style of lettering. The origin of the image as a handbill for a variety theatre act explains its vaudevillian style.

Why did Spurr use the caption don’t argue? As far as we can tell, it is not a catchphrase associated with Spurr, his act, or his published songs and monologues. If the handbill was designed to attract an Australian audience, did don’t argue have a meaning for local audiences? It doesn’t seem so. Spurr first performed in Melbourne, but nothing suggests a Melbourne connection with the term—not even in Melbourne’s love of football. At this time don’t argue doesn’t appear to be associated with any football code, except as advice to players not to argue with the referee.

The phrase does appear in some contemporary advertisements, and perhaps Spurr or the handbill artist knew this. In the years just prior to Spurr’s tour it occurs in Australian newspapers spruiking things such as soap (don’t argue with dirt) and cough mixture (don’t argue the point … but get a bottle). Whatever the inspiration, the handbill was a happy marriage of words and picture, creating an arresting image that, with Hutton’s help, has resonated across a century. According to contemporary reports, Mel B. Spurr died in Melbourne on 24 September 1904 after a short illness, and was buried in St Kilda Cemetery. A trace of him remains in the Australian lexicon.

This article was first published in the April edition of Ozwords.

With thanks to Dr Clay Djubal, an expert on Australian variety theatre, for his comments on Mel B. Spurr and for drawing my attention to the Spurr handbill, and to John Rice-Whetton for alerting us to the term.

Them’s fightin’ words – naming the enemy in wartime

By VÉRONIQUE DUCHÉ

When the Great War broke out in August 1914, the French were already familiar with their enemy. A strong heritage of hatred towards the Germans had existed since the beginning of the nineteenth century, with the Prussian and Austrian armies invading France after Napoleon’s defeat (1814–15), followed by the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). The French had words to call on to depict their enemy, such as the diminutive Prusco (from Prussian), or Teuton (Teutonic), both reminders of the brutality of Prussian troops.

The Australians, however, had no history with the German empire. Furthermore, Australia had a strong German migrant community: by the mid-nineteenth century, Germans were the largest non-British group in Victoria (1861: 10,000). Nevertheless, the Australian volunteers who fought alongside the British Army were quick to use the lexicon of the European Allies, as shown by a study of the trench journal Aussie: the Australian Soldiers’ Magazine.

In 1915, as military operations stabilised in the trenches, multiple unit papers were created by all the national armies. These magazines were produced under the most difficult front-line circumstances, sometimes literally ‘in the trenches’. Many of these trench journals published a limited number of issues of only a few pages, handwritten or typed, and duplicated by makeshift means. Entertainment was their primary aim, in order to engage the bored soldiers during their unoccupied time. These trench publications were regarded benevolently by the French military authorities. Although there was an official Bulletin des armées de la République, this bulletin was considered propaganda. The Poilus (French soldiers) aspired therefore to more authentic and sincere newspapers, written by soldiers for soldiers, produced entirely for consumption by soldiers on active service, and taking into account their state of mind.

Australian troops arrived on the Western Front in 1916, two years after the French had begun fighting there. Soldiers had produced magazines on board troopships, and continued the practice in Europe. Many publications, some very ephemeral, were produced. Aussie: the Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, born on 18 January 1918, was one of the most significant of these trench publications and continued on into the immediate postwar years.

Graham Seal has studied the multiple functions of trench newspapers and noted that ‘these publications sometimes acted as a means of monitoring morale for the officers and as a safety-valve for the gripes and whinges of the ordinary soldier.’ While these trench publications provide an unequalled insight into everyday life and death during the Great War, they are also an invaluable resource for linguists wanting to research language in a time of war. They were seen to capture the real language of the soldiers, as observed by Aussie editor (and former journalist) Phillip Harris: ‘the success of Aussie […] belongs to the Diggers. Aussie was not a paper done for the Diggers, but by them. That’s why it reflects their spirit.’ Harris was particularly adamant about the sincerity and originality of the texts he published in Aussie, as argued in the third issue of the magazine:

AUSSIE is a product of the battlefield, and he wants every item in him to be the work of his cobbers in the field and those in the field only. Should matter that is not original sneak in, it decreases the value of the work of those who go to the trouble to supply the dinkum goods. Therefore, he asks those to whom this is addressed to do the fair thing and send in their own work or none at all. (March 1918)

In my research, the thirteen issues of Aussie printed in France in 1918–19, first in Flêtre, then in Fauquembergues, were explored in order to look at the kinds of words used to describe the enemy. Naming the enemy was a challenging exercise for these amateur journalists, as they had to maintain a fine balance between hate and respect, reality and propaganda, especially in a journal that aimed to be humorous and entertaining.

As indicated by Amanda Laugesen in Diggerspeak: The Language of Australians at War (2005), Fritz was the word most commonly used by the diggers in naming the Germans. Fritz was ‘first recorded in 1915, and in wide usage especially in the early years of the First World War among English-speaking troops, including the Australians. It was a diminutive of the common German male name Friedrich.’ Friedrich was also one of the favorite names of the Hohenzollern dynasty, the emperors of Prussia. ‘Fritz and Co.’, the German enemy, we are told in Aussie, are ‘Purveyors of Blighties to the British Army’ (January 1918). Blighty was military slang for ‘a wound suffered sufficiently serious to cause a soldier to be returned home to Britain or kept away from the front line’. The word Fritz could also be used as part of a collective: Hans and Fritz, as a counterpart to Bill and Jim, an affectionate name for Australian soldiers. Variants included Fritzah: ‘The Billjims had something very painful to pay to the Fritzahs, a hostile tribe’ (March 1918).

Hun was the second most commonly used word for Germans. While Fritz was a term more often used specifically to refer to German soldiers, Hun often referred to the German people collectively. The Huns were, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘a warlike Asiatic nomadic group of people who, under their king Attila, invaded and ravaged large parts of Europe in the late 4th and 5th centuries.’ According to Laugesen, ‘during the First World War, British, Australian, and other newspapers played directly on this, drawing a likeness between the Huns who invaded the Roman Empire and the Germans invading Belgium and France and, allegedly, destroying historic buildings.’ In addition, we find in Aussie expressions using this short evocative name in compounds such as Hun-hunter and Hun Plonker: ‘That clamorous and voracious animal, the Hun Plonker’ (March 1918).

The diggers were quick to naturalise a new word used by the French, Boche. Boche is the most common word used by French soldiers in their journals, displacing the commonly used words Prussien and Prussco. As early as August 1914, the word Boche was used in daily newspapers such as Le Matin and Le Figaro. This word was felt by the Germans to be strongly pejorative, as illustrated by the story of twenty-year-old Gabrielle Barthel, from Rombas in Mosel, who was condemned to five months’ jail in June 1915 for having used the word boche.

The very productive suffix –oche was frequently used in French slang (and still is). According to the Trésor de la Langue Française, boche is a portmanteau word blending Allemand (German) and Caboche (slang for ‘head’). This short word, with its evocative tone, provided a pretext for numerous wordplays, such as boche/bouche (mouth), boche/poche (pocket), etc. This is seen in the titles and subtitles of many French trench journals: Le Mouchoir de boche (227th infantry regiment; deformation of ‘pocket handkerchief’); Bochophage (68th infantry regiment; ‘German eater’); and Rigolboche (10th division; ‘laughing about Germans’).

The diggers also adopted the word Teuton (three occurrences) and domesticated the French Allemand into Alleyman by composing a phonetically similar word based on the English terms alley and man.

The enemy could also be alluded to through reference to figures who played an important part in triggering the war. Wilhelm II, Queen Victoria’s grandson, the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, is found in both French and Australian trench journals, as Wilhelm Hohenzollern (advertisement, 1918) or more often the Kaiser. The German royal family is likewise often mentioned, in particular Rupprecht, Kronprinz of Bavaria (as Crown Prince, May 1918), also called ‘prince Rupert, the kaiser’s nephew’ (May 1919).

Other figures were taken to embody the German enemy, such as Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg (‘an unpopular person named Hindenburg’, December 1918) or Bertha Krupp (‘I dreamt we’d really won the war and finished Bertha Krupp’, March 1918), the proprietor of the Krupp industrial empire, famous for its production of artillery. Bertha also gave her name to the big gun that fired on the Allied troops, Big Bertha.

It has to be noted that despite the threat that these names could epitomise, the tone used by the Australian diggers is always humorous and the content kept at a distance. This was not always the case in French trench journals. Designated as the man primarily responsible for the war, Wilhelm crystallised the hatred of the French soldiers, whose loathing of the enemy was combined with a violent disenchantment with the elites. The Crown Prince (Kronprinz) was the subject of many puns in French – Kron being spelled con, a swear word meaning ‘stupid’. Furthermore, cartoons representing the Kaiser as a laughable puppet and a bloodthirsty monster, or Germania, the allegory of Germany, as a pitiless deity, considerably darkened the tone.

However, as previously mentioned, entertainment was the primary goal of trench journals during the Great War. Key words and phrases of German propaganda were parodied, such as ‘Deutschland uber Allies’ for ‘Deutschland über Alles’ (‘Germany above all else’, Aussie, January 1918). The peculiar German accent is strongly mocked: ‘Ach, mine friendts. You can never sometimes tell vot you least expect der most—aint it?’ (June 1918). German taste for music—‘Ach-der-schumannisch-der-musikalgessellschaft!’ (June 1918)—is also made fun of, as shown by this allusion to the German patriotic anthem, ‘Die Wacht am Rhein’, by Max Schneckenburger: ‘As Fritz, in his trenches, singeths the Wacht am Rhein, a Mill’s bomb hitteth him on his sauerkraut receptacle.’ (September 1918)

An ‘appetite for words’ seems to be the distinctive feature of Australian amateur journalists, as demonstrated in this call for ‘language rations’ in the third issue of Aussie:

[AUSSIE’S] appetite for words has increased with his growth, and he now does the Oliver Twist and comes up for more. He likes best those laughable trench incidents of which all battalion messes have a good stock. […] It is not necessary to be an experienced manufacturer of literary food to do this. Just send along the ingredients to him and he will do his best to make them into a palatable dish for general consumption. (March 1918)

The diggers on the Western Front excelled in blending new words into their slanguage, be it for the depiction of the enemy, or for the description of the world around them.

A republished version of the article, Naming the enemy in French and Australian trench journals of the Great War, first published in the April edition of Ozwords.

Celebrating the trailblazing female doctors and scientists of World War I

While relatively few in number, female scientists and doctors made a big impact during World War I. From testing mustard gas on their own skin to running field hospitals in the face of “indescribable filth and vermin, evil smells, no rations, no lights, a hospital full of ill and dying men”, they revealed their skill and competence in the most difficult conditions.

However, these women have largely been ignored in historical accounts, which have tended to focus on the experience of wartime manual workers, who were far more numerous and left behind more readily accessible evidence.

A Lab of One’s Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War explores the lives of some of the extraordinary women who helped pave the way for the female science and medical professionals of today.

Caroline Haslett

Caroline Haslett was just one among many thousands of young women whose lives were transformed by the First World War. Through their struggles, setbacks, and successes, they collectively influenced future generations. Her experiences illustrate how the War permanently altered scientific, medical, and technological prospects for women. A suffragette with a weak school record, she became an eminent international consultant on the domestic uses of electricity, educational reform, and industrial careers for women. She used her influence to alter the scientific careers of countless schoolgirls all over the world.

Haslett was judged a lost cause by her teachers because she never could learn how to sew a buttonhole. As a teenager, she left her Sussex village for London and—to the alarm of her strict Protestant parents—joined Emmeline Pankhurst’s suffragettes. When the War started, she was working as a clerk in a boiler factory, but during the next four years she was repeatedly promoted to replace men who had left to fight. By 1918, she was running the London office, visiting customers such as the War Office to discuss contracts, and astonishing staid civil servants with her expertise in a man’s domain. After being trained as an engineer by her enlightened employers, in 1919—still in her early twenties—Haslett began managing the newly founded Women’s Engineering Society. She was determined to consolidate and expand still further the opportunities for women that had recently opened up. Electric technology—dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, washing machines—would, she believed, free women of drudgery, liberating them to lead a higher form of life. She envisaged “a new world of mechanics, of the application of scientific methods to daily tasks . . . a great opportunity for women to free themselves from the shackles of the past and to enter into a new heritage made possible by the gifts of nature which Science has opened up to us.”

At the end of the War, three million women were working in industry. Like Haslett, some of them had the advantages of good grammar and the right sort of accent, but many were relatively uneducated—domestic servants, barmaids, and shop assistants who had seized the opportunity to escape from their menial occupations.

Martha Whiteley

The chemist Martha Whiteley graduated with a University of London degree when she was twenty-four, but, lacking either rich parents or a husband to support her, she spent the next eleven years teaching. Although no hard evidence survives of her ‘Dear Diary’ feelings about following this route, her frustration is suggested by the fact that for several years she was carrying out scientific research as well as working to earn her living. In 1903, she joined the staff at Imperial College London.

When the male lecturers went away during the War, Whiteley was put in charge of the experimental trenches and the temporary workshop installed just outside the main chemistry laboratory. Putting on one side her research into synthesizing barbiturates and other drugs, she shifted to examining gases. And there was only one way for her group to do that effectively: by testing the gases on themselves. Although they did not share the fate of other wartime chemists, who died through such self-experimentation, they went through some unpleasant experiences. Over thirty years later, in a lecture designed to inspire female students, Whiteley described how she had examined the first sample of mustard gas to be brought back to London. ‘I naturally tested this property by applying a tiny smear to my arm and for nearly three months suffered great discomfort from the widespread open wound it caused in the bend of the elbow, and of which I still carry the scar.’

Whiteley received several tributes for her wartime research. She must have felt gratified to have an explosive named after her—DW for Dr Whiteley—and also proud to be awarded an OBE. More unusually, she was celebrated in the press as ‘the woman who makes the Germans weep’ because of her research into tear gas.

Isobel Emslie

Living and dying on the edge of danger, female doctors – including many from Australia – had an enormous impact on the eastern front and its local populations. Most obviously, they rapidly acquired the surgical expertise needed for treating wounded soldiers, and countless affidavits testify to their patients’ appreciation. In addition, they ran maternity units, cared for refugees, researched into infectious diseases, and introduced preventive health programs.

In the summer of 1918, Dr Isobel Emslie successfully applied to become the commanding officer of a hospital funded by American donations and based in Ostrovo, ninety miles west of Salonika. ‘Just fancy me a C.O. at my tender years,’ she wrote proudly to her mother; ‘I should have been 20 years older & worn hob-nailed boots & flannel.’…

During the last four years, all the women had witnessed appalling devastation and misery, but nothing matched what they encountered now. As their wheels spun in axle-deep mud, they were passed by Bulgarian refugees and bewildered Serbian soldiers plodding along between piles of discarded ammunition. Never again could Emslie see a jay without shuddering to remember the birds pecking at the decaying corpses of donkeys and horses. On the fifth day, as the snow swirled around them, they knew from the stench that they had arrived. Priests mumbled the last rites as they wandered among the hundreds of injured soldiers lying on a stone floor, still in their uniforms, swarming with maggots and lice. Patients wailed continuously as surgeons operated without anaesthetics on a deal trestle table; Emslie never forgot ‘the floor swimming in blood . . . the pails crammed with arms and legs and black with flies’.

Sanitation was of paramount importance. It had become a standard joke that whenever the Brits got together in Serbia, their conversation began with lice and ended with latrines. The women immediately installed incinerators, washed the woodwork with paraffin, cleaned up the water system, and began peeling off the men’s ancient, blood-soaked bandages. Even after forcing the slightly less sick to leave, they had 450 patients suffering from wounds, dysentery, and the virulent Spanish flu that killed so many healthy young men. The housekeeper reported that Emslie looks such a young C.O., but she is most capable, and has made wonderful strides to bring order out of a colossal chaos. . . . [W]e had to tackle a Herculean task to battle with indescribable filth and vermin, evil smells, no rations, no lights, a hospital full of ill and dying men, and everyone tired out.

On top of converting an old barracks into a clean hospital, she spent much of her time in bureaucratic nagging to ensure their food supplies. And as well as all that, she found herself responsible for local civilians in villages up to fifty miles away. Most Serbian doctors were either dead from typhus, recuperating in the south of France, or opening lucrative practices in Belgrade. Constantly busy, the women had little time to ruminate on the horror. Three weeks after they arrived, the Armistice was declared, but they hardly noticed it. For them, the day’s exciting news was that Rose West switched on the hospital’s new electricity system.

A Lab of One’s Own Science and Suffrage in the First World War by Patricia Fara is available from OUP Australia.

A Lab of One's Own

Celebrating 110 years of OUP in Australia

In 2018, Oxford University Press is celebrating 110 years in Australia. To give that some context, when the office was opened in 1908:

  • Women had just won the right to vote in Victoria
  • Canberra didn’t exist
  • The recorded Australian population was 4,232,278, around 20 million fewer people than today.

The Australian branch now employs over 100 staff and publishes a vast array of educational books and dictionaries. The original purpose of the office, however, was to make life easier for a travelling book salesman.

The salesman was E. R. Bartholomew (initials were very big in those days), who had been recruited into the book trade from the YMCA in 1890. E. R. worked for the publisher Hodder & Stoughton (now an imprint of Hachette), selling books throughout England, Wales and Ireland in a single ‘autumn journey’.

Hodder had their sights set on a more exotic market – Australia. This faraway land was usually avoided by English publishers, mainly because it took six weeks by ship to get there. Hodder decided to minimise this problem by sending their salesman to Australia for a six-month stint, every two years. They also partnered with another publisher to share the cost of the long sea voyage. The other publisher, of course, was Oxford University Press.

So that was that. Every two years E. R. Bartholomew would set out to Australia with his supply of Hodder and Oxford books. And at the start of each trip, his boss at Hodder would bid him farewell with the words, ‘Mind you get back in good time for the autumn journey.’ Bartholomew was almost constantly on the road like this for eighteen years, the final four working just for Oxford. By that time, business was going so well that OUP decided that he should make the trip to Australia every year. E. R., who must have been exhausted by now, drew the line at nearly the whole year away from home and family, and asked if he could move permanently to Australia. The new branch opened in Melbourne in 1908.

The location decided upon was an office in the Cathedral Buildings, next door to St Paul’s Cathedral on Flinders Street. This made sense, since OUP’s main business in 1908 was selling bibles. E. R. was joined in the office by his son, E. E., and they quickly became the best known representatives of British publishing in Australia. E. R.’s sales techniques were more formal than those of 2018: he always wore a top hat while selling his bibles, and insisted that he and his customer begin business by sharing a short prayer.

The only other employees were an office boy who unpacked the boxes of books, and E. R.’s sister, Elsie. OUP’s business manager Henry Frowde employed no women in England, and looked upon Elsie quite unkindly, referring to her as ‘our typewriter’.

By 1914, the Australian branch was publishing its own books. The first was probably the Australasian School Atlas, intended for schools in New South Wales. This was followed by works such as A Short History of Australia, the Oxford Book of Australian Verse and the succinctly titled Physiographic and Economic Geography of Australia. This last book was banned in Western Australia because the author mentioned for the first time in print that Australia was mainly desert (bad for immigration apparently). The branch also had the rights to sell the books of the Australian publisher Angus & Robertson, including the classics Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and The Man from Snowy River.

E. R. Bartholomew retired in 1922, and was succeeded as manager by E. E., who stayed on until 1949. Between father and son, they were in charge of OUP’s Australian operations for almost 60 years. They’d be happy to know that the Australian branch is still going strong in 2018 and still publishing school atlases.

References

Eyre, F. (1978). Oxford in Australia: 1890–1978. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2014). ‘Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2014’. Accessed from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3105.0.65.001

The National Party

The enduring strength of a rural-based party in Australia—the National Party—has been rightly judged ‘unique’ (Costar and Woodward 1985, p. 2). Other developed countries have had rural-based parties, but none continued to prosper into the second post-war generation. In the 1920s ‘farmers’ parties’ burgeoned in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, but in the post 1945 period all discarded their rural identity, adopted Centre Party monikers, and, in some cases, underwent total ideological metamorphoses. In 1920s Canada, a United Farmers Party reigned in some provinces, and the Progressive Party had some successes at the federal level. But these elements ultimately subsumed themselves within the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, or the New Democratic Party. In New Zealand a small Country Party existed from 1925 to 1935 before disappearing.

But Australia’s National Party endures. It and its earlier incarnations (the Country Party, and the National Country Party) have provided one of Australia’s prime ministers, and seven of her sixteen deputy prime ministers. The party has, in the past, secured the premiership of Australia’s most industrialized state; has ruled in its own right in the fastest-growing state; and on occasion has won more seats than the Liberal Party in the largest state. Its share of the vote has fallen significantly since the 1980s. But in spite of the massive contraction of the relative importance of primary industries (from about 25 per cent of gross domestic product in the years of the party’s origin to only 2.5 per cent in 2013/14) one tenth of MPs elected to the 2013 House of Representatives caucused with the National Party.

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Channelling my inner Bean?

9780195576801The final volume of the Centenary History of Australia and the Great War series is about to appear, bringing with it sensations of both satisfaction and relief. It’s always a relief when a lengthy project comes to fruition successfully and this one began in the planning and funding stages in 2007. It is immensely satisfying to have had a hand in a significant historical project and to have enabled a talented team of historians to give expression to their scholarship for a wider audience.

I was centrally involved in an earlier centennial project, also published through Oxford University Press, at the time of the centenary anniversary of Federation in 2001. That series, The Australian Centenary History of Defence, was a larger and more complex project than the more recent one but both share features in common. The first is the lead time involved. Multi-volume, multiple-author projects take time to put together and time to produce their outcomes: books. The pool of available and suitably-qualified talent is not large and most working historians already have a full slate of immediate and long-term commitments. Funding the research involves reasonably-sized outlays and must be secured from somewhere, while at the same time it is recognised that the project cannot meet salary bills for the authors if the budget is to remain within feasible limits. The necessary corollary of this is that work on the books will have to be part-time in most cases. All of these factors mandate lengthy lead times from inception to completion.

This pretty much describes the shape of the project that unfolded. Funding was secured from the Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy, on the basis that the series would constitute the Army’s major enduring activity during the Great War centenary. The timing here was fortuitous since it led to signed contracts before the Global Financial Crisis broke – which would most likely have entirely changed the outcome. Having agreed to support the project, successive Chiefs of Army were unwavering in their financial commitment in the face of some acute budget pressures over the next several years.

A subsequent Chief of Army used to joke that he was funding the project in order that I could ‘channel my inner [CEW] Bean’, a reference to the Australian official historian of the Great War whose 12 massive volumes (15 if you include the medical histories) are a memorial both to their author and the events with which he dealt. Our own series weighs in at a modest five volumes for a total of approximately 600,000 words, so in no meaningful sense were we attempting to imitate or otherwise compete directly with Bean’s history.

Not only have reading tastes (and attention spans) changed over the last century, but historians now have a wider range of contemporary sources available to them and can ask new or at least different questions of the evidence. As the work which underpins volume 5 in the series demonstrates, we are able to manipulate large data sets to gain definitive answers to questions about, for example, the composition and make-up of the AIF, enlistment rates across the war, or a host of things that previous generations of scholars simply could not. It’s not that we have set out to tell a different story (the Germans still lose the war) so much as tried to tell the story differently.

To this end we structured the series semi-thematically, driven by my belief that the interconnectedness of various aspects of the war and Australia’s experience of it are often lost sight of within traditional approaches that treat Gallipoli as separate from the defence of Egypt or the conquest of Sinai or which sees the Western Front in isolation from the rest of the war effort against the German empire. Equally, Australia’s military efforts are best understood in the context of the much greater Imperial and Allied projects of which they were a part. A quite different picture of the development and experiences of the Australian Flying Corps is imparted when it is seen as contributing to and benefitting from developments in British military aviation across the course of the war rather than as the story of four discrete squadrons operating in France and the Middle East. Finally, the politics of Australia’s war, its impact on the domestic economy, and the social cleavages and tensions that arose as the war dragged on did not exist in a vacuum, many of these issues had counterparts in Britain and the other Dominions, and such comparisons deliver a more nuanced understanding of their Australian manifestations.

The Great War constitutes one of the seminal formative events in the making and shaping of modern Australia. The men and women who fought in it are now gone and its events are confined to History with a capital ‘H’. A century on, our perspectives and understanding are and should be different from theirs. Our need to make sense of it all is no less great and we hope that the series contributes in a significant way to that process.

(Dr) Jeffrey Grey
Professor of History, UNSW Canberra
Series Editor, The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War

ww1-centenary
To learn more about the series, please visit our World War 1 Centenary page

Horace Hart: the fascinating creator of an Oxford classic

Shortly after I became Editorial Assistant at OUP, my manager lent me a book called New Hart’s Rules: The Handbook of Style for Writers and Editors. It’s a useful and interesting book for an editor, as it tells you:

  • to avoid the greengrocer’s apostrophe (e.g. lettuces instead of lettuce’s)
  • the correct way to indicate stammering, paused or intermittent speech (“P-p-perhaps not,” she whispered.)
  • how to capitalise locations in outer space, such as the Milky Way or the moon
  • all 28 letters in the Welsh alphabet.

The original author of this book was Horace Hart (1840–1916), who was Printer to the University of Oxford and Controller of the University Press. According to OUP archivist Martin Maw, being the Printer in the late 1800s meant spending the working day (6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.) in the Oxford Printing House, a ‘warren, [where] one might meet attendants in the hot drying room sporting large paper hats against the sweat, blacksmiths, carpenters, or the chief wetter in the Wetting Cellar, moistening paper from the Wolvercote Mill in a shallow indoor bath’.[1] In our office, we don’t even have paper hats, let alone a Wetting Cellar.

When appointed to his role, Hart overhauled OUP’s dated practices: he introduced new types of printing (monotype and collotype), he travelled to Germany to purchase new fonts, and he expanded OUP’s ink factory. He also issued Rules for Compositors and Readers to ensure consistent first-proof correction – this would later become known as Hart’s Rules. The Preface of my updated version notes that the book ‘was originally a slim twenty-four-page booklet intended only for staff at the printing house … but Hart decided to publish it for the public after finding copies of it for sale’. [2]

Hart had a notorious temper – he was described by a later Printer as ‘a tyrant’ and once fell into a rage on seeing his compositors singing carols at work. The constant stress of the business is one explanation. According to Maw, Hart was required to balance the needs of ‘the Publisher, the Secretary, and the authorities in his parent university, his employees and their union, his suppliers, and the customers of his trade’.[3] These demands were too much: a series of nervous breakdowns led to Hart’s divorce and his retirement from the Press in 1915. The following year, he neatly folded his gloves on the bank of a lake and drowned himself.[4]

Despite his flaws, Hart’s influence on OUP was enormous and continues to this day. Hart’s book, for example, is the reason we spell Shakespeare the way we do. So next time you’re looking up whether to hyphenate a compass point (south-south-east), remember the man behind Hart’s Rules.

9780199570027

New Hart’s Rules: The Oxford Style Guide
9780199570027
$35.95

Alex Chambers is an Editor in Higher Education. He is a keen supporter of the Melbourne Demons, well-placed commas and the communal sweet jar.


[1] Maw, M. ‘The Printer and the Printing House’, in Louis, R. (ed) (2013), The History of Oxford University Press: Volume III: 1896–1970, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 222
[2] Ritter, R.M. (2005), New Hart’s Rules: The Handbook of Style for Writers and Editors, Oxford: Oxford University Press, vii
[3] Maw, 219
[4] Winchester, S. (2003),The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 121

The Anzac Legend

Ever since news of the landing at Gallipoli first reached Australia via the reporting of the British war correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, the achievements of the AIF have become embedded in Australian national consciousness. By the end of the war the AIF had come to be regarded as one of the premier Allied fighting forces, and [General Sir John] Monash as one of their most successful generals. Reflecting the widespread militaristic outlook of the early twentieth century, Gallipoli was regarded as the nation’s ‘baptism of fire’, which was understandable given that its only previous military involvement had been in the much smaller scale South African (Boer) War. What was, and is, less understandable is the suggestion that Gallipoli marked the birth of the nation, as if the very achievement of Federation in 1901 by peaceful means and the introduction of universal suffrage (Indigenous inhabitants excepted) was less significant in the history of the new Commonwealth. One hundred years on from the landing of 25 April 1915, ‘Anzac’ remains a contested concept that attracts vigorous criticism and impassioned defence. The fact that scores of thousands turn out every year at dawn services throughout the country suggests that the AIF as the original Anzacs continues to inspire new generations.

Mackay Regional Council

Anzac Day ceremonies became an annual fixture after the war. This one, held around a temporary memorial, was in Mackay, Queensland, in 1929.

Bean concluded his final volume of the official history by hailing the story of the AIF as a ‘monument to great-hearted men; and, for their nation, a possession forever’. That the AIF was able to achieve what it did truly is a remarkable story. It would have been almost inconceivable in the decade following Federation that Australia could raise a substantial force within a matter of months and dispatch it to fight in distant campaigns. Yet from the moment that Australia entered the war and opened recruiting until the first convoy sailed from Albany, less than three months had elapsed. It was because of the work of countless military and civil officers, and with the support of large sections of the Australian community, that the initial force of 20 000 men—one infantry division and a light horse brigade—was raised so quickly. That was a significant achievement in itself, but the ultimate expansion (and probably over-expansion) of the AIF to a strength of five divisions and the best part of two mounted divisions was, by any measure, an extraordinary effort on the part of a small (and new) nation. By 1918 the AIF was, by any reckoning (and here we can avoid the extravagant claims of some cheerleaders), among the best fighting forces in the empire and, indeed, in the whole of the Allied camp. In the process it produced officers (many from the ranks but also from the pre-war Militia/Citizen Military Forces) who could command at every level. Monash was the outstanding Australian officer that the war produced, and in some circles he was touted as a possible commander-in-chief for the whole of the British Expeditionary Force, but this move to elevate him to the very top was as much a political campaign as it was a sound evaluation of his capability. He was supported by a legion of subordinates, many of whom grew into their positions from a very low base of experience: war was to be the great teacher. The war also produced thousands of soldiers of all ranks who performed their duties efficiently and effectively.

Underpinning these achievements was, first, a training scheme that quickly developed into one that could turn untried civilians into soldiers in a short period, for time was always of the essence. From its arrival in Egypt in December 1914, the AIF had barely four months to create a semblance of a military force from the mass of raw recruits that had embarked in the first convoy. Thereafter as reinforcements arrived in Egypt and, after the failure of the Gallipoli campaign, in Britain for eventual deployment on the Western Front, the training system developed the capacity to keep units at the maximum strength that the flow of recruits would allow. This was no mean feat.

The second, and often overlooked, factor underpinning the exploits of the AIF was the complex yet efficient administrative system that was developed, one that extended from the front lines to the bases in Egypt, France and Britain, all the way back to Australia. It is a source of wonderment a hundred years on to see the level of detail that was recorded on an individual’s file and the efforts that were made to communicate to families the particulars of their loved ones at the front, thereby ensuring public support for the AIF, even when wider questions were increasingly contested. More generally the act of keeping track of movements, equipment and all the support functions necessary to keep the AIF in the field required remarkable administrative abilities across the whole of the AIF and the Department of Defence.

What made all this possible? In the first instance it must be recognised that although the AIF was largely formed from scratch in terms of the bulk of enlisted men, it did not spring from nowhere. The small cadre of officers who formed the tiny pre-war professional army, together with the more robust officers and men of the CMF (a number of officers quickly showed that the rigors of a campaign were beyond their mental and physical capacity and were let go), provided a solid base on which to build. Such men as [Inspector-General, Brigadier-General William] Bridges had honed their skills through experience, in Australia and in South Africa, and on attachment to and working with the British Army. It is fashionable in some ignorant circles to decry the influence of the British Army on the AIF, but the fact is that the AIF fought as part of a larger British formation: the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli, the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front and the Eastern Expeditionary Force in Egypt, Palestine and Syria. Besides the indispensable support that the British Army and Britain more generally made available to the AIF, which was far beyond the capacity of Australian industry to provide, the British Army was, for better or worse (decidedly better by war’s end) the source of imperial military doctrine that made it possible for such a formation as the AIF to slot easily into wider operations.

Similarly, access to British training establishments was critical in enabling the AIF to develop over time its operational skills while, without the resources of the British Army medical system and its supporting network of hospitals, especially in Britain, the AIF could not have sustained the level of medical care that it was able to afford its sick and wounded. British officers who served with the AIF, from Birdwood down, rendered invaluable service, especially in such areas as staff work where the Australian military lacked deep experience. Again, much popular writing denigrates British officers (contemporary cartoons in unit newspapers mercilessly lampooned the monocled ‘toffs’ of the British military establishment), and there were certainly cases of incompetent British officers being posted to Australian units (just as there were incompetent Australian officers), but on the whole the

British officers who were attached to the AIF performed well, and the AIF would have been hard-pressed without them.

Nevertheless, although it is essential to acknowledge the inevitable reliance of the AIF on its far larger British counterpart, we should not underestimate the element of self-reliance that eventually made the AIF the force that it was by 1918. We should remember also that the fledgling force of 1914 bore little relation to the AIF of 1917–18. That it should become so highly valued within Allied circles was due in no small part to its officers, whose professional ability grew with experience. Monash, for example, had not done very well at Gallipoli; three years of hard fighting on the Western Front turned him into a leader to rank with the best. Those who held commissions in the CMF more on the basis of their social standing than because of their perceived ability were quickly weeded out in the AIF: demonstrable merit rather than background became the test for commissioning and promotion, an approach that served the AIF well.

Much has been made of the egalitarianism of the AIF, especially compared with what was regarded as the hidebound, class-conscious British Army. Emphasis on the latter can be exaggerated, but it is clear that officer–men relations in the AIF were more relaxed than in the British Army, not least because by the second half of the war many officers had come from the ranks. The AIF became notorious for the ill-discipline displayed by its members of various occasions, not only in comparison with the British Army but also with the Canadian and New Zealand forces. The vast majority of disciplinary cases arose from minor transgressions—drunkenness, overstaying leave, being out of bounds, using obscene language and so on—but there was a significant number of cases of criminal behaviour. Minor lapses in discipline and displays of ‘larrikinism’ could be excused as a release from the stresses of the front line, and in any case they largely escaped the attention of the public in Australia. It was a different matter when troops returned to Australia and engaged in public rowdiness and, in some cases, in such discreditable behaviour that there was danger of a public backlash against them.

‘Mateship’ is often touted as a peculiarly Australian characteristic, but this is a gross exaggeration, as though this tendency to stick together, whatever name is given to it, was not equally to be seen in every other army, especially those from the sister dominions. Australian troops might have been more overt in their demonstration of mateship, but the Diggers were no more concerned about their fellow soldiers than their counterparts from Canada and New Zealand, or indeed from the British Army. Australians did not have a monopoly on small group cohesion. What they shared in particular with their dominion counterparts was the fact that they were away from Australia for exceptionally long periods, and very few got home leave. This naturally focused emotions and a sense of responsibility on the soldier’s immediate surroundings—his platoon and company. The ‘fellowship of the trenches’ was a very real motivating factor that enabled men to endure the rigors of war.

[Charles] Bean was right when he wrote that the AIF became for Australia a possession forever.

The bitterness of the conscription campaign took years to fade and had long-lasting political effects, but the reputation of the AIF remained undiminished. When a second AIF was raised in 1939 it seemed only proper that, following in the footsteps of its famous forebear, it should adopt the names and numbering system of the 1st AIF (thus 2/10th Battalion, 2/12th Battalion and so on), with its divisions following on sequentially from the five divisions of the First AIF. Whatever the prevailing views about the Great War and ‘Anzac’ are—and they regularly change and mutate—the AIF is rightly firmly established in Australia’s consciousness as one of its great achievements.

9780195576801This extract is taken from The Australian Imperial Force.  Volume V of The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War series.

Explore Australia’s role in the First World War with our forthcoming local publishing, including a five volume series ‘The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War’.

ISBN 9780195576801 | Jean Bou & Peter Dennis | $59.95 | 26 May 2016

Image source: Mackay Regional Council

The History of ‘Mate’

Mate is one of those words that is used widely in Englishes other than Australian English, and yet has a special resonance in Australia. Although it had a very detailed entry in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (the letter M was completed 1904–8), the Australian National Dictionary (AND) included mate in its first edition of 1988, thus marking it as an Australianism. A revision of the OED entry for mate was posted online in December 2009, as part of the new third edition, and this gives us the opportunity to test the extent to which the word can be regarded as Australian. Not one of the standard presently used senses of mate in OED is marked Australian. What are they doing to our Australian word?

One of the OED senses that matches an AND sense is mate used as a form of address. OED says: ‘used as a form of address to a person, especially a man, regarded as an equal.’ This sense has been in use since the sixteenth century.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25, 2011 : Memorial service with War Veterans on Anzac Day

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 25, 2011 : Memorial service with War Veterans on Anzac Day

The OED notes that mate is not used in this sense in the United States, and Australians will be aware from its use in British television programs that it is not exclusively Australian. It is interesting, however, that the OED’s one quotation to illustrate the sense after the 1940s is from the Australian novelist Peter Carey in 1981, in an example that demonstrates its use by a woman: ‘“Come and sit here, old mate.” She patted the chair beside her.’[1]

The AND definition differs slightly from the OED one: ‘a mode of address implying equality and goodwill; frequently used to a casual acquaintance and, especially in recent use, ironic.’ Examples of the ‘ironic’ usage include: (1953) ‘I’ll remember you, mate. You’ll keep!’;[2] (1957) ‘I’ve just been sweating on an opportunity to do you a damage, mate.’[3] The quotations chosen to illustrate the OED entry, do not include this ironic, and sometimes hostile, use of the term.

This range of usage with the primarily positive mate is analogous to the range of usage with the primarily negative term bastard in Australia. Bastard is mainly used in a derogatory way, as it is in all Englishes, but in Australia it can also be used in a good-humoured and even affectionate way. Sidney Baker captured the range of meaning when he wrote in 1943: ‘You are in a pub knocking back a few after work and being earbashed by a mate. At length he reaches the point he has been rambling round so long and, after a pause, you (the bashee) say: “You’re not a bad old bastard—for a bastard!”’[4] The heavily ironic Australian use of mate is enshrined in a famous quotation from Australian political history. In 1983, Labor Party leader Bill Hayden recalled a moment when there were rumours that he was to be dumped as leader, and a colleague comforted him ‘Oh, mate, mate’. Hayden commented: ‘When they call you “mate” in the N.S.W. Labor Party it is like getting a kiss from the Mafia.’[5] Although possibly not exclusively Australian, this ironic and sometimes hostile use of mate is certainly more common in Australia than elsewhere.

The primary Standard English sense of mate is illustrated by this OED definition: ‘a companion, fellow, comrade, friend; a fellow worker or business partner.’ It is this part of the sense that receives special attention in the Australian National Dictionary. The first thing AND does is to separate out some shades of meaning, and so one of them is: ‘an acquaintance; a person engaged in the same activity.’ This sense covers quite a range of relationships, but the essential point about it is that the relationship involves no close bond of friendship. Typical examples include: (1919) ‘The boy had joined his mates in one of the little cemeteries on the Western front’;[6] (1934) ‘Seventeen of our mates were killed in the mining industry last year’;[7] (1972) ‘A mate in Australia is simply that which a bloke must have around him. Mates do not necessarily want to know you.’[8]

This separation prepares the way for the essential Australian sense of mate, and the sense that validates its inclusion in a dictionary of Australian words: ‘a person with whom the bonds of close friendship are acknowledged, a “sworn friend”.’ Some of the central quotations that establish the sense are these:

(1891) Where his mate was his sworn friend through good and evil report, in sickness and health, in poverty and plenty, where his horse was his comrade, and his dog his companion, the bushman lived the life he loved.[9]

(1977) ‘He’s me mate. I gotta help ’im,’ he stated simply and incontrovertibly.…
There was no answer to that, Gunner knew: the outcome of this incident had been predetermined by the peculiar chemistry of compatibility, by social mores and by the almost tribal ties of marriage, all pledged with countless beers. It was personal, traditional, and deeply masculine.[10]

Especially in many of the early examples of this kind, the emphasis is, as in these passages, strongly masculine. Henry Lawson writes in 1913: ‘The man who hasn’t a male mate is a lonely man indeed, or a strange man, though he have a wife and family.’[11] And a writer in the Bulletin in 1945: ‘You can’t kid me that a woman could ever be a mate like you an’ me know it.’[12] In 1960: ‘“My mate” is always a man. A female may be my sheila, my bird, my charley, my good sort, my hot-drop, my judy or my wife, but she is never “my mate”.’[13] In the early records there are occasional references to women, but when they do occur they lack the intensity of emotion associated with the male references: (1923) ‘My wife is standing at the gate—No man could have a better mate’;[14] (1946) ‘Sally was elated by his recognition that she could be a good mate.’[15] It is intensity of emotion that characterises the male references: (1986) ‘Silence was the essence of traditional mateship. … The gaunt man stands at his wife’s funeral; his mate comes up, says nothing but rests a gentle hand briefly on his shoulder.’[16]

In addition to mate, the word mateship appears in the quotation at the end of the last paragraph. In Standard English, mateship can mean ‘the state of having a mate; a pairing of one animal with another’ (OED), but it is the human sense of mateship that is exclusively Australian. The OED defines it as ‘the condition of being a mate; companionship, fellowship, comradeship’, and labels it ‘chiefly Australian and New Zealand’. AND defines it: ‘The bond between equal partners or close friends; comradeship; comradeship as an ideal.’ Some of its seminal and early uses, not surprisingly, come from Henry Lawson, since it is a concept that was forged in the bush tradition. In ‘Shearers’ (1901) Lawson writes:

They tramp in mateship side by side—
The Protestant and Roman
They call no biped lord or sir
And touch their hat to no man!

And in ‘Before We Were Married’ (1913):

River banks were grassy—grassy in the bends,
Running through the land where mateship never ends.

It is a tradition that is continued in the First World War, and memorialised in the remembering of that war: (1935) ‘The one compensating aspect of life as then lived was the element of mateship. Inside the wide family circle of the battalion and the company were the more closely knit platoon groups.’[17]

When in 1999 Prime Minister Howard proposed a draft preamble to the Constitution that included the sentence ‘We value excellence as well as fairness, independence as dearly as mateship’, there was some public outcry over the inclusion of a term that, because of its role in a male tradition, appeared to exclude half the population. Prime Minister Howard argued that mateship was ‘a hallowed Australian word’, although his co-author in the draft preamble, the poet Les Murray, confessed that it was ‘blokey … a man’s thing’.[18] This debate was a sign that the Australian myth, which mateship embodies, perhaps no longer has the power that it held in the past. The association of mateship with Australian egalitarian traditions was articulated most clearly by Russel Ward in The Australian Legend (1958): ‘He believes that Jack is not only as good as his master but, at least in principle, probably a good deal better. … He is very hospitable and, above all, will stick to his mates through thick and thin, even if he thinks they be in the wrong.’[19]

The power of this myth may have weakened, but it is only through an understanding of the historical background of terms such as mate and mateship that we can understand why they have such a central place (even when contested) in the Australian psyche, how their Australian meanings differ from their Standard English meanings, and why they belong to the core set of terms that the core set of terms that help to express Australian values.

This extract is taken from What’s Their Story? A History of Australian Words. The real stories behind some of Australia’s unique and best-loved words are ready to be told. This is a collection of words that have interesting, challenging and often disputed stories to be told about their origins.

ISBN 9780195575002 | Bruce Moore | AU$21.95


[1] Bliss (St Lucia, Qld, 1981), p. 95.
[2] T.A.G. Hungerford, Riverslake (Sydney, 1953), p. 50.
[3] B. Reed, Cass Butcher Bunting (Port Melbourne, 1957), p. 38.
[4] S. Baker, The Drum: Australian Character and Slang (Sydney, 1959), p. 69.
[5] Bulletin (Sydney), 13 September 1983, p. 60.
[6] A. Wright, A Game of Chance (Sydney, 1919), p. 9.
[7] Red Star (Perth), 3 August 1934, p. 2.
[8] K. Dunstan, Knockers (North Melbourne, 1972), p. 52.
[9] ‘Smiler’ (A.A.G. Hales), The Wanderings of a Simple Child, 3rd edn (Sydney, 1891), p. iv.
[10] R. Beilby, Gunner: A Novel of the Retreat from Crete (London, 1977), p. 177.
[11] H. Lawson, Triangles of Life and Other Stories (Melbourne, 1913), p. 237.
[12] Bulletin (Sydney), 12 September 1945, p. 12.
[13] D.M. McLean, The Roaring Days (London, 1960), p. 1.
[14] J. Moses, Beyond the City Gates (Melbourne, 1923), p.96.
[15] K.S. Prichard, The Roaring Nineties (London, 1946), p. 224.
[16] Bulletin (Sydney), 21 January 1986, p. 36.
[17] J.P. McKinney, The Crucible (Sydney, 1935), p. 63.
[18] Advertiser (Adelaide), 25 March 1999, p. 4.
[19] Cited from 2nd edn (Melbourne, 1966), p. 2.