Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Mystery Aussie word
First of all, a lament about my beautiful pre-teen daughter who was perfect, and who now comes home from high school reporting about the different way she got in trouble today. Any words of wisdom from parents of teens? I am floundering.
Anyway, at the table tonight she confessed that she had forgotten to write her Indonesian homework in her diary and, of course, not done it. The teacher said, 'Being a bit of a berk, are we?'
Hubby, a born Aussie, says it's spelled 'burke' after Burke and Wills, the ill-fated Outback explorers who died. Burke wouldn't take advice from Aborigines, was ill-prepared, etc. That definition fits the situation perfectly, but I can't find that exact etymology in any dictionary, paper or online.
My Macquarie Dictionary of Australian Colloquial Language, which has been a faithful companion since my immigration from Texas, has:
'berk, also birk, burk, burke n. (offensive) an unpleasant or despicable person. [rhyming slang, Berkshire Hunt cunt]'
Do you know about rhyming slang? It originated from the Cockneys and is part of Aussie lingo. Hubby calls his friends 'China'. It comes from 'mate'--> 'plate'--> 'China plate'. Get it?
Merriam-Websters' online has the same etymology, with the addendum, 'fool British.'
What do you think? Fool I'll accept, even unpleasant, but not a despicable person or the rhyming slang for rude bits!