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Read Austral English Part 122

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1859. D. Bunce, `Australasiatic Reminiscences,’ p. 26:

“Stylidium (native Jack in a box). This genus is remarkable for the singular elasticity of the column stylis, which support the anthers, and which being irritable, will spring up if p.r.i.c.ked with a pin, or other little substance, below the joint, before the pollen, a small powder, is shed, throwing itself suddenly over, like a reflex arm, to the opposite side of the flower. Hence the colonial designation of Jack in a box.”

Jack the Painter, n. very strong bush-tea, so called from the mark it leaves round the drinker’s mouth.

1855. G. C. Mundy, `Our Antipodes,’ p. 163:

“Another notorious ration tea of the bush is called Jack the Painter–a very green tea indeed, its viridity evidently produced by a discreet use of the copper drying-pans in its manufacture.”

1878. `The Australian,’ vol. i. p. 418:

“The billy wins, and `Jack the Painter’ tea Steams on the hob, from aught like fragrance free.”

1880. Garnet Walch, `Victoria in 1880,’ p. 113

“Special huts had to be provided for them [the sundowners], where they enjoyed eleemosynary rations of mutton, damper, and `Jack the Painter.'”

Jackaroo, n. a name for a Colonial Experience (q.v.), a young man fresh from England, learning squatting; called in New Zealand a Cadet (q.v.). Compare the American “tenderfoot.” A verse definition runs:

“To do all sorts and kinds of jobs, Help all the men Jacks, Bills or Bobs, As well as he is able.

To be neither boss, overseer, nor man, But a little of all as well as he can, And eat at the master’s table.”

The word is generally supposed to be a corruption (in imitation of the word Kangaroo) of the words “Johnny Raw.” Mr. Meston, in the `Sydney Bulletin,’ April 18, 1896, says it comes from the old Brisbane blacks, who called the pied crow shrike (Strepera graculina) “tchaceroo,” a gabbling and garrulous bird. They called the German missionaries of 1838 “jackeroo,” a gabbler, because they were always talking.

Afterwards they applied it to all white men.

1880. W. Senior, `Travel and Trout,’ p. 19:

“Jackaroos–the name given to young gentlemen newly arrived from home to gather colonial experiences.”

1881. A. C. Grant `Bush Life in Queensland,’ vol. i.

p. 53:

“The young jackaroo woke early next morning.”

[Footnote]: “The name by which young men who go to the Australian colonies to pick up colonial experience are designated.”

1885. H. Finch-Hatton, `Advance Australia,’ p. 85:

“Of course before starting on their own account to work a station they go into the bush to gain colonial experience, during which process they are known in the colony as `jackaroos.'”

1891. Rolf Boldrewood, `A Sydneyside Saxon,’ p. 74:

“We went most of the way by rail and coach, and then a jackaroo met us with a fine pair of horses in a waggonette.

I expected to see a first cousin to a kangaroo, when the coachdriver told us, instead of a young gentleman learning squatting.”

1894. `Sydney Morning Herald’ (date lost):

“`Jack-a-roo’ is of the same cla.s.s of slang; but the unlucky fellow–often gentle and soft-handed–who does the oddwork of a sheep or cattle station, if he finds time and heart for letters to any who love him, probably writes his rue with a difference.”

Jackaroo, v. to lead the life of a Jackaroo.

1890. Tasma, `In her Earliest Youth,’ p. 152:

“I’ve seen such a lot of those new chums, one way and another.

They knock down all their money at the first go-off, and then there’s nothing for them to do but to go and jackaroo up in Queensland.”

1890. Rolf Boldrewood, `Squatter’s Dream,’ c. xix. p. 239:

“A year or two more Jackerooing would only mean the consumption of so many more figs of negro-head, in my case.”

Jacka.s.s-fish, n. another Sydney name for the Morwong (q.v.).

Jacka.s.s, Laughing, n. (1) The popular name of an Australian bird, Dacelo gigas, Bodd, the Great Brown Kingfisher of Australia; see Dacelo. To an Australian who has heard the ludicrous note of the bird and seen its comical, half-stupid appearance, the origin of the name seems obvious. It utters a prolonged rollicking laugh, often preceded by an introductory stave resembling the opening pa.s.sage of a donkey’s bray.

But the name has been erroneously derived from the French, as to which Littre gives “terme populaire.

Femme, fille qui parle beaucoup.” He adds, that the word appears to come from jacquot, a name popularly given to parrots and magpies, our “Poll.” The verb jaca.s.ser means to chatter, said of a magpie. The quotation from Collins (1798) seems to dispose of this suggested French origin, by proving the early use of the name Laughing Jacka.s.s. As a matter of fact, the French name had already in 1776 been a.s.signed to the bird, viz. Grand Martin-pecheur de la Nouvelle Guinee. [See Pierre Sonnerat, `Voyage a la Nouvelle Guinee’ (Paris, 1776), p. 171.] The only possibility of French origin would be from the sailors of La Perouse. But La Perouse arrived in Botany Bay on January 26, 1788, and found Captain Phillip’s ships leaving for Sydney Cove. The intercourse between them was very slight. The French formed a most unfavourable idea of the country, and sailed away on March 10. If from their short intercourse, the English had accepted the word Jacka.s.s, would not mention of the fact have been made by Governor Phillip, or Surgeon White, who mention the bird but by a different name (see quotations 1789, 1790), or by Captain Watkin Tench, or Judge Advocate Collins, who both mention the incident of the French ships?

The epithet “laughing” is now often omitted; the bird is generally called only a Jacka.s.s, and this is becoming contracted into the simple abbreviation of Jack. A common popular name for it is the Settlers’-Clock. (See quotations–1827, Cunningham; 1846, Haydon; and 1847, Leichhardt.) The aboriginal name of the bird is Kookaburra (q.v.), and by this name it is generally called in Sydney; another spelling is Gogobera.

There is another bird called a Laughing Jacka.s.s in New Zealand which is not a Kingfisher, but an Owl, Sceloglaux albifacies, Kaup. (Maori name, Whekau). The New Zealand bird is rare, the Australian bird very common. The so-called Derwent Jacka.s.s of Tasmania is a Shrike (Cracticus cinereus, Gould), and is more properly called the Grey Butcher-bird. See Butcher-bird.

1789. Governor Phillip, `Voyage,’ p. 287:

Description given with picture, but under name “Great Brown Kingsfisher” [sic].

Ibid. p. 156:

Similar bird, with description and picture, under name “Sacred King’s Fisher.”

1790. J. White, `Voyage to New South Wales,’ p. 137:

“We not long after discovered the Great Brown King’s Fisher, of which a plate is annexed. This bird has been described by Mr. Latham in his `General Synopsis of Birds,’ vol. ii. p. 603.

Ibid. p. 193:

“We this day shot the Sacred King’s-Fisher (see plate annexed).”

1798. Collins, `Account of English Colony in New South Wales,’

p. 615, (Vocabulary):

“Gi-gan-ne-gine. Bird named by us the Laughing Jacka.s.s.

Go-con-de–inland name for it.”

1827. P. Cunningham, `Two Years in New South Wales,’ vol. i.

p. 232:

“The loud and discordant noise of the laughing jacka.s.s (or settler’s-clock, as he is called), as he takes up his roost on the withered bough of one of our tallest trees, acquaints us that the sun has just dipped behind the hills.”

1827. Vigors and Horsfield, `Transactions of Linnaean Society,’ vol. xv. p. 204:


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