Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mystified moontrotters, etc.

Jonathon Green reads the 19th cent. Australian papers:
As ever violence is OK but sex problematic. The women are almost invariably prostitutes. Heaven forfend that such a term should sully the readers’  breakfast tables. Instead we find angel, blowen, chicken, Cyprian, frail sister, moontrotter, nymph of the pave, Pitt-street promenaderquean,  and vestal. We get the point. Drink is euphemized: both sexes  are variously baked, cut, elevated, foggy, glorious, mystified and pot-valiant; they have malt above the meal and rum above the water; they are malty.

(Via Sue Walder on twitter.) Some tangentially related observations: (1) I recently learned that using "Kiwis" to mean "New Zealanders" is "deeply naff." (2) Do read Dialect Blog on Aus/NZ/South African accents and on the vowel shift in NZ English. And (inevitably!) Johnson on the "all hands on dick" phenomenon. (It is perhaps worth noting that "dick" is, at least among non-sailors, a much more commonly used word than "deck.")


Sing Clementine said...

Apparently the NZ eccunt is interesting to linguists in that it's becoming more regional, not less - rare in English-speaking countries.

Zed said...

Do you mean the NZ "eccunt" (!) is splitting up into multiple regional accents or that it's becoming more unlike other versions of English, or both? (If the former, is that rare? I was under the impression that the demise of RP had freed up space for local English accents...)