What’s their Story? gives a detailed account of many of the iconic words in Australian English.
In 1981 in the Bulletin magazine the Australian writer Kathy Lette uses the term rellie for ‘relative’:‘Dreaded rellies are not so easily disposed of.’1 In 1987 in a collection of short stories Kathy Lette uses the variant form rello for ‘relative’: ‘Everybody else would have liquid-papered me out of their address books by now, especially the rellos.’2 This use of the –ie (or –y) and –o suffix with abbreviated forms of words is not exclusive to Australia, although it is more common in Australia than elsewhere, and is used in distinctive ways in Australia. The choice of –ie or –o appears to be arbitrary, although the –ie forms are much more common than the –o forms. It is rare to find a term that uses both –ie and –o, as in the case of rellie and rello, but such doublets appear occasionally, as in the older commie and commo for ‘communist’, and the more recent flannie and flanno for ‘flannelette shirt’. Some have argued that the –ie forms are more sympathetic or friendly than the –o forms, but even the examples given in this paragraph show that this is not the case. Continue reading →
The term devo as short for ‘devastated’ first came to my attention when I was watching that phenomenon of television, Masterchef, not so long ago. The eventual winner, Andy Allen, was fond of saying that he would be devo if he got eliminated from the competition. It quickly got picked up in the many comments made in response to the Sydney Morning Herald’s popular parody re-caps. When his best friend from the competition, Ben Milbourne, was eliminated, it was all too easy for commentators to write that Andy must be devo, or as seems to be popular, totes devo (totally devastated) by the loss of his friend. (The friendship also gave rise to jokes about the bromance between Andy and Ben, and references to the two as the bromancers.)