Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Australian Diminutive


After posting the picture of ANZAC bikkies yesterday I was musing on the endearing habit of Australians ( oh, ok, New Zealanders too) to shorten well used nouns. So here we have my cossie out to dry. Cossie rhymes with mozzie, that ubiquitous little critter that sucks your blood and spreads Dengue fever in the Northern Territory.
And then we have his boardies.

And the tinnie on the beach. A tinnie can also refer to a can of beer.

One of the most delicious diminutives would have to be the pav. The pavlova's origins are hottly disputed across the Tasman but there is some consensus that the dessert was created to honour the tour of Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, either in the 1920s or 1930s.
The earliest record of a pav appears in 'The Rangiora Mothers' Union Cookery Book' of 1933.
A good pav is crispy, crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the inside and can be decorated with any fruit in season, but is especially good with kiwi fruit or raspberries, mango and strawberries.


  1. Thanks for the explanation about the biscuits.

    I think diminutives serve to establish familiarity and connection with those you wish to signal special relationship. Our daughter's Elizabeth's fifth grade teacher particularly liked her and he shortened her name--to my wife's and my dismay--to Liz. The nickname stuck! Two special people--only two--in her life still call her Elizabeth: her mom and dad.

    We in America share with our relations down under a tendency to abbreviate favorite nouns: "Chevrolet" becomes "Chevy," "introduction" becomes "intro," and so forth. Adjectives, too, fabulous becomes fab.

    I think verbs resist this tendency because there's usually a great monosyllabic Anglo Saxon alternative for every formal Latin born verb: "spit" for "expectorate" to name just one.

  2. Dan: I have a Thomas and like you I think his Dad and I are the only 2 who refer to him that way.

    and that wonderfully onamatapaeic (sp, hoick

  3. Of course there is actually no dispute at all. It is on the historical record that pavlova originated in New Zealand along with - buzzy bees, vegemite, jandals, hokey pokey icecream and that great horse 'Phar Lap' --- the only people that dispute this are Australians, but what else would would you expect? :-)

  4. Alden: gotcha on the jandles - they are thongs here, flip flops in Kauai.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.