Nicknames: an Aussie lament

Joan Griffiths

Long, long ago, before political correctness sprouted, indeed before it was even a seed in our minds, nicknames were quite in vogue. While today in some quarters nicknames are still in vogue, I feel they are not given as freely as before. These days we must think carefully before labelling a person, even when the nickname is given as a term of endearment.

Now what I’m referring to here are nicknames, real, true, dinki-di Aussie nicknames, not those shortened forms of our given names. For many years those of us blessed with a mop of red hair were given the misnomer Bluey and tall people, usually men, were called Lofty. However if by some quirk of nature a man was short in stature he was likely to be labelled Short-arse or Stumpy. Today, however, this would never do. If the recipient suffered from “small man syndrome” he might just take offence and see us all in court.

Nicknames were often meted out according to one’s country of birth. For instance, most Scotsmen were known as Jock, Welshmen as Taffy, an Englishman was a Pom and a New Zealander a Kiwi. All these terms were, I’m sure, given in good humour, yet it seems that some now see them as derogatory, and so they have faded quietly away.

So, as a tribute to all those soon-to-be-redundant Blueys, Boofheads and Baldies, those Cobbers, Drongos and Dags, those Lofties, Shorties and Snowies, to mention but a few. I for one will be truly sorry to see you go!

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