The Dutch and Australian flash-mobs

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed May 4 15:22:21 UTC 2011

At 5/3/2011 09:38 PM, victor steinbok wrote:
>I'll take a crack combining what I can recognize with a little
>  /Flitsmeute/ is an equivalent (calque) of /flash mob/. Of course, these are
> > well-formed compounds, but we wonder whether there is an
> alternative way to express more
> > clearly what a "flash mob" is.
>Caveat--it seems somewhat doubtful that this is from 2002, especially since
>GB has a double volume.

 From a WorldCat listing -- "Onze taal : maandblad van het
Genootschap Onze Taal 1932-2000 [etc.]" -- Vols. 71-72 is consistent
with 2002-2003.  So it might be of some interest to place this
reference relative to the 2003 NYC event.

>The Australian connection is not trivial. Apparently it was a derivative
>from the "flash dialect" of female convicts in Australia and Tasmania, so
>there "spontaneous" protests were being referred to as "flash mob"--other
>than that there is no apparent connection. The site linked to from Wiki has
>moved, but it's redirected. There is a lot of information, but no original
>language that I found--just comments on it.

I agree that the "flash mob" of Australia and Tasmania (which, the
last time I was there, was still part of Australia, no matter how
tedious it is to get to :-) ) is not the same as the 2003 "flash
mob".  It seems more like a rabble of criminals.  But in the
quotation I gave, it's a "mob" of "horses, cattle, or even a troop of
emu", that will "be all right when they're wheeled once or
twice."  Here "flash" seemed to mean something that happened
spontaneously, "in a flash"; a stampede.  Which is why I wondered about it.


>On Tue, May 3, 2011 at 7:22 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> > FLASH MOB flitsmeute al gebruikt als equivalent van flash mob. Dit
> > zijn uiteraard welgevormde samenstellingen, maar wij vragen ons af of
> > er een alternatief te bedenken is dat duidelijker uitdrukt wat een
> > flash mob precies is. ...
> >
> >  From Onze taal: maandblad van het Genootschap Onze Taal: Volumes
> > 71-72.  Genootschap Onze Taal (Netherlands) - 2002 - Snippet
> > view.  [Journal; unconfirmed.]

The American Dialect Society -

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