The Great Australian Adjective [25 February 1900]

[Editor: An article published in The West Australian Sunday Times, 25 February 1900.]

The Great Australian Adjective.

There is a certain word which is usually called the “great Australian adjective,” generally indicated in print by a ——, and extremely popular with bards of the bakblox in its boulderised form of “blanky.”

This word constitutes the major portion of the Australian youth’s vocabulary, and is regarded by him as indispensable for purposes of emphasis. It has been even said that nine-tenths of Australian humor consists of “blanky,” and, it might have been added, of blankness.

Be that as it may, what is called a “startling decision” in regard to this word has been given by Mr. Warden Finnerty. In a case tried before him the other day, several youths were accused of using obscene and abusive language, the G.A.A. being the word particularly objected to. Mr. Finnerty stated that the higher courts had ruled that the word was neither obscene nor abusive, and proof of its use could not therefore be held as evidence in support of the charge against the youths. Counsel for the prosecution held that the word was obscene, and that he was quite prepared to leave it to the Supreme Court to decide.

It has been decided again and again that the word is not obscene, and no one knowing its familiar application can reasonably contend that it contains any flavor of obscenity. But it certainly is frequently used to emphasise abuse, and may therefore be reasonably regarded as abusive.

This may seem a trifling matter, but it is just as well that the police and magistracy should know that the use of the word is not unlawful, though it is objectionable.

— North Coolgardie “Herald.”



Source:
The West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 25 February 1900, p. 2

Editor’s notes:
bakblox = a vernacular spelling of “backblocks”, referring to remote country areas

G.A.A. = Great Australian Adjective (i.e. the word “bloody”)

[Editor: Changed “form of “blanky,” to “form of “blanky.” (replaced the comma with a full stop); “constitute” to “constitutes”; “it it just” to “it is just”.]

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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