Aussie Life

Language

2 April 2022

9:00 AM

2 April 2022

9:00 AM

A reader (Rosie) has drawn my attention to a new(ish) word: ‘coddiwomple’. Rosie wrote to say that she has been travelling around Australia since 2004, and hasn’t yet found the idyllic place in which to settle down. So, she keeps on travelling. She has been told that she is a ‘coddiwomple’. The word is found in the Urban Dictionary (but not in the Oxford or Websters) with the definition: ‘to coddiwomple (verb): to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination’. I asked Mark Gwen of the Australian National Dictionary Centre who confirms that it is yet to make it into the pages of any major dictionary, and he can trace it back no further than 2001. So, I wonder if this might have a political application? Is a Liberal party that has abandoned conservative values and just charges confidently ahead with no clear goal mind, just ‘coddiwompling’?

Australian model Nicole Trunfio was recently quoted as saying: ‘I have a rule in my life that I don’t allow anyone around me with bad energy’. That expression ‘bad energy’ intrigued me – what does she mean by it? If she was a fanatically Green-Left supporter she might mean coal-fired energy – but that seems unlikely, doesn’t it? I suspect she means that she doesn’t want any ‘Debbie Downers’ around her. If you haven’t heard that expression before, ‘Debbie Downer’ is a fictional character on the American TV show Saturday Night Live. She is played by Rachel Dratch as a pessimistic person who frequently adds bad news and negative feelings to a gathering, crushing the morale of everyone present. The result is that the name of the character became a part of American slang (and it’s even heard sometimes in Australia). If someone calls you a ‘Debbie Downer’ they don’t mean it nicely. I suspect it is the ‘Debbie Downers’ of this world model Nicole Trunfio was getting at with her expression ‘bad energy’. But, of course, ‘energy’ has nothing to do with it. Sadly, I must conclude that ‘bad energy’ is an empty, meaningless bit of psychobabble.

The word ‘censor’ is recorded from 1882, and comes from the Latin title of the two magistrates in ancient Rome who exercised official, or even officious, control over morals and conduct. I mention this because Clarissa Bye, writing in the Daily Telegraph, reports that the online word game Wordle is now being censored. The game was invented by Josh Wardle, who exercised no censorship. But he has now sold it to the New York Times who have decided to bring in the blue pencil. The game involves guessing the 5-letter word of the day. But there are some 5-letter words that you are, it appears, no longer allowed to try out. The game will no longer accept the Shakespearean word ‘wench’. And the same applies to ‘slave’. The plural forms of certain 4-letter words are similarly banned. But more bizarrely, so is the word ‘bitch’ – even though it is a perfectly respectable word for a female dog. Can you see what’s going on here? If you muttered the word ‘woke’ then you are on the money. Those politically correct voices who claim they are supporting ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ have been making our language less diverse and less inclusive – again. Clarissa Bye complains about this censorious censorship, writing: ‘They have been very successful at murdering plain language and creating meaningless abstract platitudes’. Now, she says, they are hard at work butchering our wider culture – including harmless word games played for fun. Well said, Clarissa!

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Contact Kel at ozwords.com.au

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