Australian slang: Like the two Australisms – ‘shoey’ and ‘smoko’
“So let me set the scene,” sings Eamon the Lifesaver, a growling guitar beneath his words. “It’s two in the afternoon and 34 degrees.” Too hot for a guy like Eamon you’d think, his lily skin complementing his red mullet. But the singer marches on, admitting, “The harsh Queensland summer heat made me sweat buckets down my street.”
34 degrees and 18 million YouTube views – that’s the short history of smoke, the 2017 debut single by The Chats, a Noosaville-based shed rock trio. Appearing to be more Weasley than punk god, Eamon Sandwith meets a tradie “perched on his milk crate throne”. Meet Josh Price, the highly visible guitarist, as Matt Boggis and his drum kit appear next to the cyclone fence.
Verse for verse, the song deals with Centrelink payments and finally lifesaver Eamon ignoring a drowning man on the beach: “Because I’m on Smoko so leave me alone!” Repeat. Repeat. The tone is quirky, the riff catchy. To the point where a million offshore listeners began to wonder what the heck Smoko meant.
Viral songs can also see their novel lyrics spread. Warren Zevon taught me Naugahyde, Jay-Z (Manolo Blahnik) and B-52s (bikini whale). As for smoke, the song’s narration and video, set the scene for most fans. Though the tradie opts for a sausage roll rather than a bun, the meaning of the slang is guessed. Tangible. But where did Australism first appear?
Queensland, suggests Mark Gwynn, a senior researcher at the Australian National Dictionary. By the 1850s, Trove says, the work break originally had an -oh ending, much like Rabbit-oh (the Depression’s door-to-door bunny seller) and Bottle-oh. Even a Fleece-Oh (wool sorter of a shed) needed scones, a cup of coffee, and a durry for Smoke-Oh, the breather that evolved into Smoko over decades.
Various sources claim that smoko also identifies the snack, just as playlunch (or break) identifies both a tween’s mini-break and the carrot sticks allotted to him. Better food and cleaner lungs have indeed largely wiped out Smoko’s implied cigarette, but the label is holding on thanks to punk history and subsequent Google searches. As long as we don’t succumb to the vape-oh.
Or have a mid-morning shoey, that other native slang amplified by music. Blame this time on Harry Styles, the English idol who drank water from his Gucci Plimsoll after a recent concert in Perth. “I’ll discuss this at length with my therapist,” he admitted.
A day later, a million chat rooms were discussing the virtues of sock juice and the origin of the ritual. It turned out that Russian ballet stars are among the suspects, claims UTS academic Dr. Liz Giuffre speaking to the BBC after Harry’s caper. Or maybe we should blame Tallulah Bankhead, the paparazzi who captured the actress at London’s Ritz in 1951, for sipping bubbles from her stiletto heel in a so-called thong to her success.
https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/cheers-to-shoey-and-smoko-how-the-two-australianisms-went-global-20230306-p5cpq8.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Australian slang: Like the two Australisms – ‘shoey’ and ‘smoko’