A standard postcolonial technique that embodies the "empire writing back" involves using local additions to standard English without defining them. The author thus emphasizes that those at the cultural center — in this case readers in the U. K. -- have to learn about the former colonies in the same way that they have been required to learn about the Imperial center. Here are some words a popular writer of detective fiction employees in two of his novels:
Unless otherwise noted, the words are quoted from Body at Madmen's Bend. Those words with a "w" come from Sands of Windee.
billabong A dead-end channel extending from the main stream of a river, often filled with water only in rainy season.
billy metal pot or kettle used in camp cooking.
bush generally a term for inland Australia, although it should refer specifically toi the Red Center's low scrub and sand; slang synonyms are "back o'beyond" or in NSW "back o'Bourke."
bushman One who lives or travels in the wilderness, especially in the outback.
corroboree an Aboriginal gathering, occasionally religious, including dancing and celebration. May be called for serious tribal issues.
goannas a fairly large and varied group of lizard, some now near endangered.
humpy a simple dwelling made of bush materials, originally Aboriginal but in more recent times any primitive dwelling [w165].
kookaburra large kingfisher.
no-hoper almost exactly what it says; an individual or team never to be successful.
jackeroo ranch hand] [w70].
selection in the 19th and early 20th centuries a piece of interior land beyond the surveyed areas, claimed "selected" by an individual unable to buy in the surveyed areas. Upon improvement and occupancy for three years, the land would be surveyed and title granted. Based on a law of 1862.
selector one involved in staking out a selection.
smoko break from work, usually manual labour; relation to a "cigarette break" (Amer.) and usually for tea or coffee. Generally, does not involve alcholic beverages.
squatter originally, a large piece of land leased from the State for agricultural purpose; often creating serious conflicts with selectors; now much more frequently employed in the American sense of unlawful occupation of deserted property.station a very large agricultural property, usually for livestock but also referring to farms, especially for large scale grain farming.
swag The pack or bundle containing the personal belongings.
swagmen A man who seeks casual work while traveling about carrying his swag.track a known and well used, unpaved long distance path, mostly for walking but also used by motor vehicles, albeit slowly. When prefaced with "The" the reference is to a specifc and well known track, i.e., the "Birdsville Track" running roughly parallel to the NSW-Queensland border from SA well into the Northern Territory.
tucker food, food suppies.
ute utility vehicle.
Victorian resident of Victoria
walkabout A temporary return to traditional Aboriginal life, taken especially between periods of work or residence in white society and usually involving a period of travel through the bush.
Upfield, Arthur W. Body at Madmen's Bend. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1963.
Upfield, Arthur W. Sands of Windee. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1958.
Last modified 21 July 2003