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  Issue 153, page 4

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New Ask Us Theory About
Sez You...

From Desiree Patterson:

In this week's Sez You, you ask about any other variations on the U-turn: In New Zealand we "flip a u-ey".  Another Kiwi (i.e. New Zealand) expression you might enjoy is "To pack a sad", meaning to get upset, or to cry.  Thanks for a great website.

Read on.

From Sarah Dodd:

Yes, we do say "chucking a Uey" in Australia or at least we do in the West. Since I haven't read the back issue I'm not sure how "speccy" was used but again here in the West it's used as an abbreviated version of spectacular.

Australians seem to "shorten and add -y" more than even the English!

From Rob Young:

Your Sez You correspondent Margaret says that she has never heard someone use the word 'speccy'.  Any Australian who has football-playing children has. It even turns up on some of the football shows on television.  At least, here in Victoria it does.  Also, in my youth I have been known to chuck, do, hang or even toss a u-ey.  All interchangeable terms.

We imagine Margaret now knows the real story on speccy.

From Valetta Bolton:

I am a new reader of this site and I am finding it very interesting. I have to contradict Margaret in Sez You Issue 152. Here in Australia we DO say 'chuck a u-ey' - you can 'chuck' many things including 'chuck chunder' which means 'to vomit'. Apparently it came from people being sea sick and calling "watch under" or something of the sort. Was the "speccy" Maragaret was referring to from "take a speccy"? This means to take a fantastic mark in Australian rules footy!

Poor Margaret, you had no idea your letter would generate so many responses, did you?

 From Andrew Charles:

The common factor in the making of espresso is the use of pressurized hot water, not steam, to extract the flavor essences from the compressed grounds. Linda Echols' piston machine uses hydraulic pressure from the piston to pressurize the heated water and modern electric machines use an electric pump (which allows electronic control). Illy used pressurized air in the first automatic espresso maker. Both the earliest espresso machines and stove-top espresso makers use steam (vapor) pressure to force water through the grounds but the resultant super-heated water cooks the grounds and gives a bitter "burnt" flavor (inspiring the other methods of pressurization).

As an Australian I am familiar with the term "chuck a u-ey" as well as "do a u-ey" and "hang a u-ey" as well as "chuck" or "hang a right/left(-hand turn)."

Thanks for educating us all regarding the mechanics of making espresso.  

From Carolyn Diamond:

Just to throw an Aussie's two cents' worth into the 'pommy' fray, the name "Pom" is said to derive from Australia's origins as a convict colony. Each unfortunate transported down under from Britain for his or her (mostly) petty crime was said to be a "Prisoner of Her Majesty" or POHM, later simplified to POM. Your references appear much more sound and valid, but this is the explanation that appears to have the greatest currency amongst Australians! 

Although Australia is a large country, it has a comparatively small population. However, there is still plenty of room for different usage of words and expressions. I don't know where in Oz Margaret hails from, but here in Sydney, most people would use the expression to "chuck a u-ey", so perhaps it's more an east coast, state or Sydney thing. But just to be contrary, we do also sometimes use her choice, "do a uey" - we're nothing if not flexible! "Speccy" is predominantly a Victorian term (the state of Victoria, rather than a 19th century one!) that comes from the game of Australian Rules [football], to describe a 'spectacular' mark or catch, and is quite likely uncommon in other parts of Australia. I dated an Aussie Rules footballer once, hence my knowledge and use of the word.

As you now know, that popular explanation for pommy is almost certainly spurious.  Regular readers of TOWFI have the following mantra stuck in their heads like a bad tune: "Words are rarely derived from acronyms.  Words are rarely derived from acronyms.  Words are..."

From Erica Hruby:

I am a lifelong resident of the Boston area, and I have only heard and used the variant "bang a u-ey."

Melanie used to hear "hang a u-ball" in Texas, though it was probably uttered mostly by transplants from elsewhere in the U.S.

From Andy Lutsch:

Call me an optimist, but I'd always considered the word "Congradulations" as a purposeful, intentional, and once clever -- but now quite TRITE -- contraction of the phrase "congratulations graduates." I could also swear I saw a banner with the word (written and posted by the token ditzy ?female? character) on a television show about 10 years back.... perhaps one of your other readers will remember this.  Still enjoying your work (especially when it's weekly!) and spreading your Gospel!!

Certainly it is sometimes used as a bad pun on graduation.  However, we've seen it too many times in non-graduation circumstances (e.g., weddings, promotions, etc.) to suggest that all misspellings of congratulations as congradulations are intentional. 

From Brad Daniels:

I first saw this misspelling as a deliberate choice on a greeting card, sometime in the early '80s. It was, as you might expect, a graduation card which said "CON-GRAD-ULATIONS!" on the front. This spelling then became common for graduation announcements, and eventually, some people began assuming it was the correct spelling. It does bug me when people use "congradulations" for things other than graduations, but I think it's a reasonable deliberate misspelling in that context.

We agree, when it is deliberate.

From John Hindsill:

Perhaps, in response to Delcie Light's curmudgeonly comment, the spelling of 'congratulations' as 'congradulations' is not so much an unintentional misspelling as it is a cutsie way of acknowledging the occasion. Hmmm?

See above.

From Richard Regan:

Isn't a berliner a pastry? Making JFK's remark an unintended joke?

Indeed!  We knew most of our erudite readers would understand why we chose that particular image (of John F. Kennedy's speech notes in Issue 152's Spotlight), and so we did not offer an explanation.  Yes, JFK's speech did translate as something like "I am a jelly doughnut"!

From Guy and Danielle:

A propos of your Spotlight on inhabitants, here are a couple of local tidbits for your trivia files. "Egarenses" are the folks from the city of Terrassa, Spain, reflecting the Roman name of the city, Egara. Also, there are many establishments in Barcelona, Spain, which bear the name Laie or Laia, after the pre-Roman "laietans" of this area. Also, from the region of Aragon, Spain, people are known as "maños".  Thank you for yet another delightful issue of TOWFI.


From Steve Whitelaw:

I enjoyed your "inhabitants" column, and have a few more for you. Residents of Rio de Janeiro are Cariocas; Buenos Aires, Porteños; Halifax, Haligonians; Lisbon, Lisboetas or Alfacinhas; Mazatlan, Mazatlecos. Liverpudlians are, I believe, more commonly referred to as Scousers in England, at least in my experience.  Scouse is a kind of stew common to the area.

Yes, natives of Liverpool are indeed known as Scouses by the rest of England because they are/were fond of a stew called scouse, which is short for lobscouse.  The latter is of unknown origin.  Most Americans are unfamiliar with either of these terms.  Scouse meaning "a native of Liverpool" dates in writing from only 1945.  Scouser came a bit later.

From Howie:

According to my sources, the mailing list of friends of Silly Wizard known as Rambling Rovers, the answer [to "why on Earth are the folk of Hawick called Teeries?" from last issue's Spotlight] is: Teribus ye Teriodin is the Hawick town motto, but folk in the other border towns call them "Watties."

And the poem may be read at:

And there is of course, where you can find more info on the town motto. 

More readerly erudition.  Thanks, Howie!

From Graham Crowley:

I thought that the inhabitants of Liverpool and Newcastle were called Scousers and Geordies [respectively]. But what do you call people from Ramsbottom? It can't be Malesheepsarseans, anyway Ramsbottom is like a reversal of Wheatear, it's of Norse origin, sounds anatomical, but is a reference to plants. 

We really liked Malesheepsarseans!  As for Ramsbottom's derivation, it either means "valley of the rams" or "valley where wild garlic grows" (the Old English word for "ram" was similar to that for "wild garlic"). No one is completely sure.


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Last Updated 06/22/02 05:05 PM