Holly (several_bees) wrote,
Holly
several_bees

Two random things that are thematically linked and everything. Sort of. By accident.

Today, words.

First: a dictionary-map of Australian regionalisms.

About ninety percent of them bewilder me completely. "Golden drinking voucher" for a fifty dollar note? What? "Pack of poo tickets" to mean something's a mess? "Nicky na nas" for underpants? Surely people only say this sort of thing when they're trying to (a) bewilder visiting Americans, or (b) get money out of the Australian Film Institute for their quirkily independent movie about a group of kind-hearted friends with bad haircuts who open a fish and chip shop on Sydney Harbour Bridge to raise money for their quadriplegic sister's tap-dance lessons.

The other ten percent, on the other hand, astound me by being regionalisms at all. What, double-cut rolls aren't universal? Saying "bars" to render oneself safe during chasey or to reserve a particular seat isn't either? What do people wear while they're swimming if not bathers? And what does anyone call tomboy stitch if not, well, tomboy stitch? (Sigh. You're just being awkward now. It's that thing where you wind wool around a tube with protuberances, and you end up with an enormous skinny semi-knitted cylinder, and you boast to all your friends about how yours is longer than theirs. And then you put it in the cupboard, and it gets tangled up in that old Enid Blyton book you're too embarrassed to keep on the shelf but that you can't bear to throw away because there's that chapter with the rhyming and the hair and the riddles that don't make any sense, and then you throw it away ten years later when you move out of home.)

Most disturbing of all, however, is the realisation that fruit boxes aren't really called fruit boxes.

I knew "peanut paste" wasn't universal (and that it was supposed to result from sundry state governments' refusal to let it be called peanut butter, because butter is made from milk dammit and the dairy farmers would get cross). Similarly, I can usually remember that iceblocks get called ice pops or icy poles elsewhere, if I try. I've come to terms with the fact that some people foolishly refer to slippery dips as "slides", purportedly on the laughable premise that you're supposed to slide down them but clearly, really, just to be contrary. I even realise that "stobie pole" isn't universal, though I generally have to ask someone else before I remember "telegraph pole" as the alternative. But... fruit boxes? Fruit boxes? They say fruit box on the packaging. How was I supposed to know that was just for the South Australian market? Why did the packaging lie to me?


Second: Emergency Broadcast System Authenticator Word Lists.

I want the job of whoever wrote these lists. I don't care if I have to travel through time to get it.

They're lists of key words that were provided to television stations in the seventies, sealed and coded by date; if there were ever any need to use the Emergency Broadcast System, the message that announced this would begin and end with that day's code-words, to confirm that it wasn't a fake. 8 December 1973: halfcocked (initialisation), vancouver (termination). 27 November: ointment (initialisation), follower (termination). Presumably each set of words was chosen after extensive testing to see how they would sound with potential disasters; one doesn't come up with initialisation/termination pairs like "cocker/heartsome" and "cutcherry/finical" by chance. I picture meetings at a round table, where half a dozen sworn-to-secrecy employees in masks would throw around ideas, and read over past masterpieces and potential announcements for inspiration.
"'Pelvis the nation is under attack contemplate', ah, that was a good one."
"Not as good as 'Unfasten there has been an outbreak of bubonic plague in New York nutriment.'"
"Mm. What do we have so far?"
"Possess for initialisation, spade for termination."
"Mm, just doesn't have that ring to it. 'Possess we are being attacked by giant bees spade'... nah."
"Hm... pinchy? Telephone? Squatters?"
"Hm, not quite. Oh, wait! I have it! Ha!"
"What?"
"'Possess we are being attacked by giant bees vomit'!"
"Oh. Wow. Have we given you a raise lately?"

Be warned, however: don't look at the word lists and then think "oh, that was quite interesting; I wonder what would happen if I went up a level to see what else is floating around to be read" unless you're desperately short of abortion-is-murder-and-gay-marriage-is-sending-the-nation-into-a-moral-spiral rants. And let's face it, you're not.
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  • This is the best thing I have ever learnt

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