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1 correction by peter-macinnis - Show corrections

By P.M. Enlarging Our Vocabulary hat" or "takes felt" or is "snarl ered," from S.NLR. which are the official initials for SerVices No Longer Required. A normal dis- charge is "to go home to mum." Early phrases such as the expres- sive "wouldn't it!" and "get off my back" were as dead as ancient Greek when the war ended. "You'll do me for a rough mate" was placed on the retired list about the end of 1941; "you'll get on" as a sneer at alleged sycophantism sur vived until 1944. "Good luck to you, too" is a standard answer to any derogatory remark or to any selfish action. A hazardous operation in variably provokes the comment: "There's no future in it." Anything or anybody which is worn-out materially, physically or mentally has "had it." When you've had it, you "give the game away," though, oddly enough, this phrase is seldom used in a condemnatory sense. Anything satisfactorily ar- ranged or done is sometimes "sewn up" but more frequently: "she's apples" or "she's caster." The roots of both phrases are unknown. "Don't lead with your jaw" and "pull your neck (or skull) in" have given ground to a crude, unprint- able phrase. The more one thinks about it, the more convinced one becomes that swearing and pro- fanity are a lazy substitute for imaginative expression. If we do not crusade against swearing for moral reasons, we should certainly do so on grounds that it weakens the vitality of the language. The Great Australian term of endear- ment is now used mainly in the neuter gender. Example: 'I'll open the beer; give me the bastard." (The first syllable is heavily stressed and broad.) The less said about other Army swearwords the better. An ugly word sounds no sweeter because it is used as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb sometimes in the one sentence. Naming Formations. There are dangerous traps for the unwary writer in the nomen- clature of the various formations. "The Sixth" is as false as "Sixth Divvy." `Six Divvy" passes, but "Six Div" rings true. Similarly with Seven, Eight and Nine Divs. though the last-named formation. because of its association with the Imperial Army of Alamein, likes to call itself "Nine Aust Div." The other divisions prefer to call Nine Div the "glamour boys." Nine Div retorts that Seven Div is uncom- monly noisy about announcing its identity as the "Silent Seventh." Guard units, comprising older men charged with the protection of various headquarters, are known as the "olds and bolds" or the "ruthless and toothless." It is sad to think that the inventor of such phrases should have lapsed into premature oblivion. Those interested in the writing of the biographies of the Great should consult me in private for the precise identification of the following people' Tom, Ali Baba (alias Ming the Merciless), Ivan the Terrible, Red Herring, Tubby, and Custard Guts. A Commanding Officer is usually the "Old man": a company or platoon commander. "the boss." The private soldier seems to have found difficulty in finding a name for himself. "Dig- ger' was regarded as the property of the men of the First A.I.F. Its use in the Second A..F. was mainly confined to the popular phrase "a digger from the last war." There was no "hey, dig": it was either "sport" or "mate." "Aussie" was never used inside the Australian Army, but was invari- ably used as a form of address by the soldiers of all other Allied armies. There were a few half- hearted attempts to coin expres- sions such as "Blamey's Boys" and "Five-Bob-a-Day Tourists," but these were of fleeting appeal. Ford\ the sake of the traditions of the A.I.F. as a whole, I hope that writ- ers will insist on the rejuvenation of "digger." The above glossary may be of use to the dialogue writer, but is hardly likely to excite the etymolo- gist. Maleesh! Perhaps we shall be able to manage with all those words and phrases of pre-war days which haven't "had it."