Word of the year
Pandemic-related words are getting tiresome but there’s one word you’ll have to endure for at least another 15 minutes as it enjoys another moment in the sun. Oxford Languages has deemed “vax” its word of the year. While “vax” was “a relatively rare word until this year, by September it was more than 72 times more frequent than at the same time last year”. The word has also prompted a slew of widely used offshoots, including words and terms like “fully vaxxed”, “vax cards”, “anti-vaxxer” and “vaxxie” (a selfie taken during or right after one gets one’s vaccination). According to the Times, “vax” didn’t really pop up in the vernacular until the 80s, though, oddly, a form of “anti-vax” was seen as early as 1812.
Old School text books
“I was a pupil at Heaton Intermediate School in Christchurch in 1959-60,” writes Donna. “I still have my Home Science Recipe Book compiled by Homecraft teachers for the Canterbury Education Board. I shudder when I come across some of the cartoons and sayings in the book that was designed for 11– to 13-year-old school girls. Chapter 16 is on ‘Batters’ and the caption is: ‘The woman, the donkey and the walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be.’ The illustration shows a male beating each of them. I doubt that would be considered suitable for young Home Economics students today. Another gem from the chapter on Housewifery is: ‘A good horse that never stumbles and a good wife that never grumbles.’ The illustration shows a man riding a horse across a river while the wife wades through carrying a pram loaded with kids and groceries.”
A reader writes: “Both my parents had a repertoire of sayings that I remember from my childhood growing up in rural South Canterbury in the 1950s: Mum used to say whenever we kids were dragging our heels and not getting our chores done: ‘Come on, we’re not here to shag spiders!’ Dad would sometimes arrive home after a long day working and ask Mum what was for tea announcing: ‘I’m so hungry I could eat the hind leg off a scabby goat and chase the rider!'”
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