You probably think this post is too long


Within an hour of my arrival, at breakfast a few weeks ago, Nick gave me the rundown on Australia. One of the first things he told me was that Australians love to “infantilize” everything. So it isn’t “breakfast”, it is “brekkie”. Among the better known others, it isn’t “good day”, it’s “g’day” and so on. Back then I imagined that there were a few choice things that got shortened, and these were just a part of the evolution of language here. After several weeks of living here, I now think it is no part time cultural tic, but a full-fledged mania for reducing everything to the absolute minimum. “Uni”, “avo”, “bikkie”, “cuppa”, “ute”, “barbie”, “mozzie”, “ambo”, “footy”, even “unco” (which is short for, I swear to you, “uncoordinated”), and on and on. I wonder what the origins of this reductive desire are? Is it, as my friend Nick explained, a result of an emotional need to cutsie up everything? Did some large immigrant community bring with them some heavy diminutive use from their native language and it spread through the culture? (although diminutives, while cute, tend to add letters to words rather than reduce them, i.e. mesa becomes mesita. So perhaps that is the wrong track.) Something to think about…