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Rat Bastard

Posted by Bookworm on August 20, 2004

In Reply to: The Australian Bastard posted by Lewis on August 20, 2004

: : Having just posted a thread asking about the New Imperial Reference Dictionary, I mentioned that my late Husband Ken was a chronic note taker. He was also a chronic note errr..... sticker onerer (yep, that's right, I really am a tech writer - hehe).

: : Anyway, he has stuck several notes to the inside covers and some preliminary pages of the dictionary that are frozen in time (ie. the Thirties, and are thus quite fascinating to me). This note he stuck on the back inside of this dictionary and it provides a 1933 definition of 'Bastard' - in Australian terms. I thought it was rather cute and I believe to this day, pretty accurate - however please keep it in context and remember it was written - well published, in 1933. So - here it is...

: : 'Bastard'

: : An extremely useful noun, as valuable to Australians as the coconut is to Polynesians. You will be told that it is a "term of endearment".

: : Friends-male-greet each other with phrases like "Hello, y'old bastard, what're ya drinkin'?" or "Where ya been, y'old basard?" The privilege, however, is reserverd for friends.

: : Any stranger who refers to an Australian as a bastard will need reinforcements.

: : You may, if you feel like it refer to yourself as being a "bit of a bastard". And the definition will be accepted.

: : If you hear a third person, in his absence, described as being a bastard, the word will not be a term of endearment.

: : There is vast difference between friendly bastards and unfriendly bastards, and there are many other kinds of bastards in between. The best kind is your friend.

: : Then, there's the fellow who's "not a bad poor bastard"; and the one who is a "harmless poor bastard"; and the one who is a "poor stupid bastard" - all of whom are "not bad bastards when you get to know 'em". But the fellow referred to as "that bastard" is indeed a proper bastard, to be avoided if possible.

: : And the worst kind of all is the "useless bludgin' bastard", who is fortunately rare. "Useless bludgin' bastards" have no friends at all.

: : Until-and if ever-you become familiar with all the shades of meaning given to the word "bastard", it will be better for you to leave it out of your conversation. Otherwise you may acquire a reputation for being a "know-all bastard", which will mean that you know nothing at all.

: : Discuss the word, if you like, with anybody. But don't use it ABOUT anybody.


: :
: : ....I think the closing line does probably more than anything belie the era in which this was written.

: Thanks - that was some pleasant light relief.

: It's funny how friendly-bastard evolved, but maybe followed on from 'bugger' as in 'the old bugger', 'silly bugger' or 'bit of a bugger'. 'Bastard' is stronger, more vehement than 'Bugger' so over time you'd expect the tradition to move on to "C-nt" and indeed I have heard workmen use it in the same way as friendly-bastard ("Hello Mark, you c-nt!"). We are running out of profanities - in this PC world, I suppose in 30 years time it'll be "Hello Mark, you old racist" or "Hi Pete, you non-recycler".

: With there being virtually no words 'beyond the pale' - we shall need some new high-strength ones soon.

Rat bastard is another "bastard" term, however it's not a compliment. Any idea of its origins? Has anyone heard outside the US?