Paratalk or torque?

My new column, with a title that somehow makes sense. From now on until I stop I will be examining a paragraph in whatever detail I choose. This is also a good time for guests to pop in and do their own paragraph.

Today’s paragraph comes from Here’s Luck by Lennie Lower. Lower is considered a comic genius in Australian journalism. Writing in the first half of the 20th century he died at the age of 43 having only produced two books, Here’s Luck and Here’s Another. Both titles are apparently well-known drinking toasts. Here’s the paragraph:

“Move an inch and I’ll loosen your nut with this spanner,” I muttered harshly.

It’s a short paragraph but I thought it was intensely Australian. Written in the days of Imperial measurements, the word ‘inch’ is a total giveaway. The word ‘nut’ is a nice Australian colloquialism and could mean the man’s head or just one testicle. This few words just scream ‘Australian’ to me.

I read a little further and discover there’s a distinct chance the man being threatened with a spanner is a plumber. The man with the hammer thinks he’s a divorce lawyer. There are many more words with Australian connotations. If you want a book to show you about words with Australian connotations from the first half of the 20th century then this is a good book to start with. Lower wrote in the vernacular making it hard for people with little English to understand him but it’s also a good training ground.

In case you want to buy this book and read what I mean it’s still in print. You can buy it using this affiliate link and increase my coffee allowance a smidgeon.

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