Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Misunderstanding #2

The Faery came home from preschool yesterday, bursting to show me a sticker she'd received from one of her teachers for being a good listener. The sticker has since been removed and stuck - as they do - to various items. It looks a little the worse for wear now, but I want to share:

The Faery giggled in delight as she showed it to me, "It says little booga, Mum!"

Ahem. Booga is a word that gets used from time to time a lot in this home, to refer to snot. Hey, shit happens, and so does snot! I'm not entirely sure how this colloquial word is in fact spelt, but I'm pretty sure it's not spelt the same way as the word in the sticker. At least, in Australia.

And in Australia? Lil bugger isn't really a compliment. Sure, it can be a term of endearment we use to refer to our own kids, but it's usually accompanied by some tearing out of one's own hair, and wringing of hands. At the very least, a wink.

As for further uses of the word? Bugger that... Man, I am buggered... Need a new car, this one's engine is buggered... You get the idea. Where I come from? Bugger is an effective substitute for fuck, but with a slightly more comedic undertone. Not as harsh.

Bugger is not really part of a child's vocabulary - although my mother used this word frequently enough, then used to immediately chastise herself, and I'd be scratching my head because (as a child) I had no idea what it meant. She used to say it was an old-fashioned swear word, and left it at that. I did once look it up in the dictionary at home, but in my complete naivety didn't understand what an act of sodomy meant, so that was a futile exercise.

For a long time, I never really used bugger, even when friends around me were. I'd been successfully conditioned to think it was old-fashioned, and I didn't want to be old-fashioned. Then I spent time in London, and acquired a more British vernacular: Bugger...  Bollocks... Mingin...  It no longer felt old-fashioned and has stayed with me since. It gets used. A lot. Bollocks likes to come out at times too...

Anyhow, thanks to the wonders of social media, I didn't waste time in sharing the story of the Faery's sticker with friends back home. I mean, lil bugger being used as a positive term for a preschooler? Too funny to be true.

However, a good friend of mine assured me that lil sugar booga is an American term of endearment, so I had to do some online research of my own... and what do you know? Apparently little bugger can have the same meaning as whippersnapper and is quite a G-rated expression in America.

Well, you learn something new everyday...


  1. Bugger and bollocks are two of my faves.

    I have the double whammy of being both Australian and English (through Dad's side of the family). This plus a steady diet of BBC programmes while growing up has made me what I am today.

    A silly bugger. Bollocks to that!

  2. I can't imagine that anyone spells booga (booger?) as bugger.

    Did we consider that the stickers may have been the result of Chinglish?

    I have a sheet of reward stickers which among the usual Great Job! and Nice Work! are included Congratulation, Recognize Me and Count On You.

  3. Mel - I grew up with a lot of British TV too. I could just about quote Fawlty Towers by heart, I'm pretty sure! My dad - much to my mum's disapproval - let us watch The Young Ones from a very early age, and when my younger brother was presented with a plastic cricket set for his second birthday, the first thing he did was run around like a demon, shouting "BORED, BORED, BORED!" in true Vivian style.

    Angie - I know, I was disbelieving when told it said 'booga' but F was insistent. Who knows?

    But yes, there's probably a strong possibility that Chinglish is involved! Recognize Me? Count On You? Really?

    Oh I do love a good bit of Chinglish/Engrish. I have a list a mile long of classics from my teaching days.

  4. "Bugger and bollocks are two of my faves. "

    Me too!

    Hehe - you must have had quite the chuckle when you saw that sticker. I sure would have. How very odd.

    "I can't imagine that anyone spells booga (booger?) as bugger. "
    Snap. My thoughts exactly. very odd.

  5. Glad I'm not alone in thinking that!