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Wednesday 27 June 2012

Nuts and Bolts: yesterday's bogan.

My copy of the Oxford English Dictionary is about twenty years old. I don't reckon there's much in it that's more recent than 1930.

Nowadays, with the internet, things are much quicker, of course: but are they quick enough?

The policy of the Oxford English Dictionary is to include a  word once it has become established. The trouble is, by the time that's happened a word can have changed its meaning twice.

Now, some people say that the way the meanings of words change is wicked...


...wicked... does wicked mean this week, exactly? Evil? Bad? Good? 


(Though what bad means at the moment I'm not at all sure - and the same goes for good.)

So anyway, what is a dictionary writer to do?

I've been thinking about this because the OED has got into trouble with the word bogan. It comes from Australia and means...

...but that's the problem.

Bogan is defined in the June 2012 update of the OED as a "depreciative term for unfashionable, uncouth, or unsophisticated person, especially of low social status".

The trouble seems to be that Australians rather revel in being bogans - so much so that a bogan is now a fashionable, fun and desirable thing to be.

Dave Snell, a New Zealander who's done a doctoral thesis on bogan identity, and so should know, said: "I like to say it's like taking aspects of Australian culture and concentrating it."

If that helps you at all.

 So. Does that mean you can't be a bogan unless you're Australian? Not even if you're unfashionable, uncouth and unsophisticated?

Oh dear. Another ambition bites the dust...

Word To Use Today: bogan. This word seems to have originated in Melbourne in the 1980s. To start with bogans were heavy metal fans who favoured mullets (the haircuts) and flannel shirts.

Nowadays they're said to like personalised number plates, fad diets, and Shane Warne.

1 comment:

  1. Had never thought of that! Dictionaries being out of date with slangy matters.. Thank Heaven for Word Den, I say!


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