These Maps Of Divisive Regional Slang Terms Are Gonna Start A Whole Lot Of Arguments Today
Swimmers. Sausage sandwich. Bubbler. Potato scallop. Fight us.
If Australia ever descends into civil war, it’ll be fought over one of two things: a battle for rugby league to be recognised as the nation’s One True Code over the debased aerial ping pong they play in the provinces, or an all-states-in brawl to decide the proper name for deep-fried potato snacks. The Great Twitter Potato War of 2014 still sends shivers down the spines of all decent Australians, who rightly refer to those delicious little buggers as ‘potato scallops’, not ‘potato cakes’ as the propaganda of the Southern wastrels would have you believe.
These debates crop up every now and then, and are one of the few genuine points of contention between states and regions that largely formed the way they did by drawing arbitrary lines on a map. But competing claims of linguistic supremacy can only be measured in one way: by asking the great Australian public what words they use, and which ones they despise with the fire of a million far-burning stars.
In that spirit, linguists from the University of Melbourne (Ed note: POSSIBLE SOUTHERNER BIAS? Must investigate) have put together the Linguistics Roadshow, an interactive project exploring the science of language and how we use it. They’re running a survey asking people what terms they use for things known to have regional linguistic divisions, and begun publishing the results via some handy, easy-to-use maps. The results are fascinating, insightful, and completely infuriating.
As this one illustrates, the term ‘potato cakes’ is confined to a small, backward corner of this great nation, hopefully soon to be converted to the ways of civilised, scallop-nibbling peoples.
Similarly, referring to the schoolyard public drinking apparatus as a ‘bubbler’ is common parlance among the vast majority of taxpayers, while Victoria dithers between wrongheaded terms like ‘drinking fountain’, ‘drink fountain’ or pathetically, ‘bubble tap’. For shame.
Concerningly, however, certain debauched modes of speech seem to hold a distressingly large sway over the populace. The humble sausage sandwich — the very cornerstone of our democracy — is referred to by an embarrassingly large number of people as a ‘sausage in bread’, a term which makes the bile rise to the back of my throat.
There are also deep divisions over the proper name for swimwear. New South Welshians use ‘swimmers’, Queenslanders use ‘togs’, and Victorians and Adelaideans refer to the things they wear to the beach as ‘bathers’, presumably because ‘bloomers’ is a bit too risqué for their delicate sensibilities.