Considering the United Nations is only five years older than me, I figure we’re almost contemporaries and I thought we were old mates yet they’re trying to teach me how to speak English.
Although the issue’s not been pursued lately, back in 2020 a highlight for me was the UN’s local wing, the UN Women Australia group, who reckoned it’s time Australians purged the dictionary of all gender-based words and replace them with neutered 21st century politically correct equivalents. You can see where this is going.
They reckoned Aussies should ditch phrases such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’ and instead use gender-neutral language such as ‘y’all’ or ‘folks’.
After six decades-plus on this planet I’d thought there’s nothing new to make me say “WTF!” but the UN achieved this distinction. There should be a medal or a badge we could award in recognition of such a feat. Let’s call it the Wuhan Prize seeing as everything unwelcome in the world at present seems to come from there and it’s a gender-neutral award.
The UN’s timing was spectacular. The world was reeling and in total disarray thanks to the invisible coronavirus plague, China was calling Australia all the nasty names it could think of, and in Queensland armed police were stationed at the borders stopping germy New South Wale folk from spreading their bugs.
In the midst of all this, the UN reckoned we should focus on not referring to boys and girls by their genders but instead call them ‘folks’. Husbands and wives should become ‘spouses’ and presumably ‘d*******s’ could stay as they are, as this is a gender-neutral term?
The UN Women also wanted people to use the word ‘owner’ instead of ‘landlord’, call a ‘policeman’ a ‘police officer’ and replace ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ with ‘partner’. Presumably the group would change its name to the UN Non-Gender Specific Australia Group? Let’s see that on their business card.
The problem the UN Women Australia group faced then as now, is that their grand idea is up against the entrenched mindset of all of us Baby Boomers, who having grown up with the words the UN now wants to change, are in no mood to greet men and women as ‘Y’all’, unless we want to sound like we’re from Alabama. “G’day y’all” just doesn’t resonate.
What’s doubly puzzling is the UN’s apparent ignorance of Australia’s existing dazzling array of gender neutral words. We already have our own informal dictionary and don’t need any imported words.
Maybe the UN should instead consider telling the world to adopt some of our beaut Australian words.
We have already replaced ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gentlemen’ with the word ‘Youse’. Let’s go further and make Aussie slang global. Vegemite and Qantas are fine but somehow ‘Sheila’ has fallen out of fashion, but back in the day it was the standard description for a beaut girl. Say it now and the feminist columnists reach for their keyboards to denounce every man that ever there was.
Although ‘Mate’ traditionally applied to blokes, we could argue it’d work fine with sheilas too. ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ can of course be replaced with the more accurate term ‘Ankle Biters’. Foolish people could be re-badged as ‘Galahs’ or ‘Drongos’. After all d*******s can be any gender. It’s an equal opportunity thing.
It should be an ongoing quest to preserve Australia’s unique language because nothing stirs the soul more than munching a snag and downing a XXXX at the barbie and shouting ‘Straya!’ if anyone asks where you’re from. Making Straya great again should be a government campaign!
It could be set to music from our noted troubadour Kevin Bloody Wilson (no relation), who should be up there with Banjo Paterson as an iconic Aussie cultural icon. Kevin gave us the immortal word DILIGAF. Look it up. For those who don’t do search, it stands for ‘Do I Look Like I Give A …’ well you get the idea.
It accurately reflects our reaction to the UN’s push for us to change how we speak. It’s a bonza word. We could make a list of Aussie words and put it on a poster. The UN could stick it on their dunny wall beside their Wuhan Prize trophy, right next to the double-vaxxed sticker.