Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bushwhacked by an American Word.

Struth and stone the crows! Fair dinkum, I was well and truly Gobsmacked the other day. True Blue and Ridgy didge I was! What may have caused this consternation you may well ask.
Well mate, as a true blue Aussie son of the soil, who grew up on the edge of the Bush (even if it now is regarded as an extension of outer Melbourne) I was always under the assumption that certain words, like most of those used above, were dinkum Aussie words, and if not totally derived at, here, were at least popularised here.
So imagine my surprise, nay horror, when looking at the Word of the Day for May 4th 2011, I was to find that, what I thought was a common original Aussie word, (and one of the few I still would now occasionally use) was not Australian at all. No, not Australian at all but in fact American. The only saving grace for me, was to find that they “murdered’ the language of my wife’s native heritage to get it.
Thus, “Bushwhack is a backformation from the Dutch bosch-wachter, "forest-keeper," which, during the American Civil War was adopted as bushwhacker to describe patriot guerillas or freebooters.”
I will post the full definition of Bushwhack below for those who are unfamiliar with it, but the point that attracted me here is, how easy it is for one to unrightly but innocently, to claim ownership of something simply through use and identification, and thus also deny its original origins. On reflection, I also couldn’t help wonder how many of the other supposedly unique Australian words I used to open this Blog, are in fact uniquely Australian, or just claimed by us to be.
What say you? What are some things that you thought were originally “Native” to your country or culture, but have since found aren’t?

Word of the Day for Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Bushwhack \BOOSH-hwak\, verb:
1. To defeat, especially by surprise or in an underhanded way.
2. To make one's way through woods by cutting at undergrowth, branches, etc.
3. To travel through woods.
4. To pull a boat upstream from on board by grasping bushes, rocks, etc., on the shore.
5. To fight as a bushwhacker or guerrilla in the bush.

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