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Friday, May 7, 2021

Gunners to Tuggers: nicknames to live by

Canberrans regularly refer to our town centres and suburbs by a fistful of diminutives.

There’s everything from the very Australian ‘Charny’, ‘Dicko’ or ‘Tuggers’ to the epithets ‘Belcompton’, ‘Gunghetto’ and ‘Thugeranong’ and the satirical ‘People’s Republic of the Inner North’.

But this is a phenomenon not limited to the bush capital, with Australians across the country answering a call-out from The Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) and providing over 1,000 examples of the unique nicknames we give places.

The Centre, which is based at ANU, has been inundated with responses from ‘The Cott’ (Cottelsoe, WA) to ‘Epicfail’ (Innisfail, Qld) and everywhere in between.

ANDC senior researcher Mark Gwynn says he’s noticed some clear trends in the monikers we cook up for our cities and townships.

“What was especially interesting were the similarities between the nickname patterns and other forms of word generation in Australia,” he said.

“For example, the ‘y’ and ‘o’ endings found in words like ‘barbie’ for barbecue and ‘muso’ for musician, are also found in nicknames like ‘Goldy’ for Gold Coast, and ‘Paddo’ for Paddington.

“These endings act as a code of familiarity in Australian speech.”

An abbreviation with ‘the’ in front of it also proved popular, (‘The Berra’), as did the ‘vegas’ ending, as in ‘Brisvegas’.

“The allusion to Las Vegas is usually ironic, comparing a relatively quiet place to the hustle and bustle of the casino city,” Mr Gwynn said.

Other popular patterns include using –town (G-town for Geelong) and the ‘ers’ ending (Gunners for Gungahlin).

You can view the whole list of nicknames at slll.cass.anu.edu.au/centres/andc/nicknames

If you have a nickname you want to add to the list, enter it using the Centre’s Word Box feature at slll.cass.anu.edu.au/centres/andc/form/word-box

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