fair dinkum? (part 2 Dinkum Smith etc.)

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Jun 13 14:01:36 UTC 2012

Green's Dictionary has:
noun: "a fair share of work", from 1888 (Rolf Boldrewood); also several
special sense from WWI
adjective: "honest, genuine, esp as Fair Dinkum" (a separate entry), from
1905 ("Duke Tritton's Letter"
qdverb: "honestly, genuinely', from 1917 (W. Muir, which includes a nice
explanatory note saying that "square dinkum" "is an Antipodean verbal
flourish" similar to the American Sure enough and the Limey Not 'arf.)

Under "fair dinkum":
adjective, also square dinkum: 1914 (E Dyson)
exclamation, with variants: 1894 (Bulletin)

As for "Australian Town and Country Journal (New South Wales) Saturday 30
August 1879 p 33:
   ... Morning Gallops. The work on Randwick last Saturday was almost of a
purely sensational nature, and everything that put in an appearance did
really serviceable work. The following are the principal items :- Mabel,
the up-country mare, was sent what is known as "fair dinkum".... [sent by
heart, grace, or the jockey?]"
No doubt the practice of training race-horses was very different 125 years
ago -- I don't know whether heat-races were still the standard practice,
Nowadays race horses take surprisingly little exercise.  They are on the
track, ambling about, for an hour a day, and the rest of the time they
stand in their stall.  A part of the ambling session usually includes a
short sprint.  The sprint is run either at the horse's own pace or under
urging by the exercise rider (a "hand ride").  If there was a similar
practice in 1879, then perhaps Mabel, the up-country mare, was being worked
under urging.
I understand that attempts to teach horses to do push-ups have had only
mixed success, but still, I can't imagine a successful human athlete in
leisurely training an hour a day and spending the rest of the time sitting
on the couch.

"heat-races": the great match race between Eclipse and Henry, on Long
Island in 1823, was three four-mile heats -- try asking a modern
thoroughbred to do that!

GAT, the horse-player

On Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 5:47 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> The English Midlands (especially Lincolnshire) and Australia (especially
> New South Wales) are the areas where "fair dinkum" is earliest attested (so
> far).
> 1881 North Lincolnshire Words  p.117 (series C 26) : Fair-dinkum, that
> which is just and equitable [Google Books bibliographic data for the
> Glossary Series are mistaken]
> 1882 Nottingham Evening Post 23 Feb p. 2 Linciln Conservating Club."... be
> : fair dinkum to all classes of people. Now they in Lincoln knew there had
> been some very strong prosecutions of people who had in neighbouring town
> indulged ... ?
> 1848 Fri 14 Sept Lincolnshire Chronicle p.5 col. 5: “ George Smith, alias
> Dinkum Smith, a notorious thief, who has been for a long time the very
> dread of the neighbourhood of Rasen, was last week apprehended by
> Superintendent Forck ... "
> I wonder why he took, or was given, the name Dinkum. Any suggestions?
> Thomas Alexander Browne, alias Rolf Boldrewood,  wrote  Robbery Under
> Arms. 1888, cited in OED. It had already been serialized in 1882-3 in
> Sydney Mail.  "It took us an hour's hard dinkum to get near the peak."
> Dinkum there means work, and it surely does not support the "good gold, din
> kum," folk etmology--especially since Browne was a gold commissioner since
> 1876. He had arrived in Sydney in 1831 (at age 5?). (Thomas Alexander
> Browne...Bibliography, Keast Burke 1956.)
> I don't know if Green's DS or Butler's Dinkum Dictionary (3rd ed.) add
> anything (anyone care to see?). Not in DARE.
> [Likely unrelated: Alabama Folksongs. "hi yo dinkum darkey" [Worldcat].
> NYT BR GB Haiti song 1921 - Snippet view chorus
> CWng-a rl ng-a ri ng-ch Ing-cha Hl-o-dinkum darky (Repeat).]
> *******
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of
> Stephen Goranson [goranson at DUKE.EDU]
> Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2012 9:33 AM
> Subject: [ADS-L] fair dinkum?
> "Origin unknown" for "fair dinkum," according to OED--and to me too. Here,
> merely a few notes, questions, and perhaps an antedating. Since it appears
> in the English Dialect Dictionary (and others) and was known at about the
> same time in Australian writing (circa 1888-1890), some proposed it
> originated in England but became popular in Australia. The movement of
> people was more in that direction than the reverse. (The collocation left
> little or no trace in 19th-century US.) But, as far as I know (feel free to
> correct me), the earliest secure attestations are in Australia, which do
> not prove it started there, but might at least keep the question open.
> Since it is an obvious place to look, I may not be the first to find uses
> in Trove, the Australian newspaper database. The following 1879 use may be
> written up somewhere (is it?), but isn't in OED, the Australian National
> Dictionary, etc. I haven't checked Green's, or Butler's Dinkum Dictionary
> 3rd ed., etc. (anyone care to?). Liberman's etymology bibliography lists
> only one dinkum article (which adds little); Notes & Queries has several
> late notes, the most memorable being a claim to have heard "fair dinkum"
> from a Lincolnshire farmer in 1848-9--but that claim was made over fifty
> years later, so is somewhat iffy.
>  Australian Town and Country Journal (New South Wales) Saturday 30 August
> 1879 p 33:
>    ... Morning Gallops. The work on Randwick last Saturday was almost of a
> purely sensational nature, and everything that put in an appearance did
> really serviceable work. The following are the principal items :- Mabel,
> the up-country mare, was sent what is known as "fair dinkum".... [sent by
> heart, grace, or the jockey?]
> Several other appearances follow (e.g., a horse, Blue, "doing the fair
> 'dinkum'" in Jan 1880; the early uses appear on the sports pages, in
> rowing, for example). Besides the already-known variant spelling dincum, we
> may note a goofy Nov. 1898 retelling in which Moses asks "Straight
> dingkum?" In the likely not really related but I'll mention anyway
> department, HathiTrust has an 1830 text, Humane Policy: Or, Justice to the
> Aborigines of New Settlements Essential....by Saxe Bannister (p. lxxxii),
> which tells of a chief named Dingum, in New South Wales, a name said to be
> "nearly equivalent" to "'I of myself' or 'I am'."
> Also of doubtful relevance is the 1862 Copperhead ("peace Democrat,"
> pro-slavery) poem (in the Ohio newspaper The Crisis June 18 and reprinted
> in other papers and in 1863 Copperhead Minstrel) in which "Dinkum Darkey"
> takes a room in Uncle Sam's hotel, at the expense of whites. An earlier
> racist song oddly mixes anti-black and anti-Chinese words, calling the
> latter "din cum darkey." (See: Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American
> Popular Music...2005 p. 42.) One folk etymology claims Chinese spoke (in
> Cantonese) of din kum, good gold, during an Australian gold rush. Among
> other probable nonsense coincidences are sing-song syllables (though dinkum
> could turn out to be fake Latin?), e.g. the Dec. 9, 1876 Once a Week story:
> "When I carry grog bottle, um allus seem to laugh inside, and go dinkum,
> dinkum, 'till I 'bliged to pull de cork out and smell um, and den I taste,
> an' him all ober wid me."
> As promised, I did not give the dinkum origin, whether in the sense of
> work or of genuine, reliable, etc.  Can we find the origin, fair dinkum?
> Stephen Goranson
> http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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