By Jenna Scarbrough
Certain fads, catchphrases, dances, and songs bombard our society—nowadays, almost all of these are either born on or popularized through the Internet. Grumpy Cat, Rickrolling, Left Shark, the optical illusion dress—all of these ubiquitous cultural sensations have this in common. Some of these stick for a while, some don’t. Those that stick are branded as memes. But what exactly is a meme?
In 1976, Richard Dawkins, the English evolutionary biologist, proposed an idea in his book, The Selfish Gene: What if ideas were like organisms, where they could breed and mutate? These ideas, he claimed, are actually the basis for human culture, and they are born in the brain.
Dawkins’s research is primarily in genetics. He has argued that all life relies on replication. But unlike cells, ideas do not rely on a chemical basis for survival. They begin from a single location—the brain—and spread outward, jumping from one vessel to another, battling for attention. Some ideas are more successful, which may be due to an element of truth they carry, while others slowly die out. Some may not be accurate, but society has accepted these ideas for so long that they are just accepted (think about pictures of Jesus or George Washington; while these may not be what they actually looked like, almost all art now portrays these men in the same way).
Dawkins needed a name for this concept. He proposed calling it mimeme, from the Greek word meaning “that which is replicated.” He wrote in his book, “I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme.” He felt the monosyllabic word would be more fitting because it sounds similar to "gene." “If it is any consolation,” he continued, “it could alternatively be thought of as being related to ‘memory,’ or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream.’”
Although he probably couldn’t imagine the possibility of Internet memes during his initial research in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Dawkins has now accepted the appropriation. Because it’s still viral, he said in an interview with WIRED, this popularity increase goes right along with his theory that ideas are similar to living things.
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by Helena Hedegaard Holmgren
Australian English is more than just an accent, and the Aussie vernacular can easily leave both English speakers and foreigners perplexed. Australian English is similar to British English, but many common words differ from American English—and there are many unique Aussie idiosyncrasies, slang terms, and expressions.
The term for Aussie slang and pronunciation is strine, and it is often characterized by making words as short as possible; the story goes it developed by speaking through clenched teeth to avoid blowies (blow flies) from getting into the mouth. So if you plan to visit the world’s smallest continent, this list of some of the most commonly used slang expressions is for you.
1. Arvo: afternoon
2. Barbie: barbeque
3. Bogan: redneck, an uncultured person. According to the Australian show Bogan Hunters, a real bogan sports a flanno (flannel shirt), a mullet, missing teeth, homemade tattoos (preferably of the Australian Flag or the Southern Cross), and has an excess of Australia paraphernalia. This "species of local wildlife" can be found by following their easily distinguishable tracks from burnouts or the smell of marijuana.
4. Bottle-O: bottle shop, liquor store
5. Chockers: very full
6. Esky: cooler, insulated food and drink container
7. Fair Dinkum: true, real, genuine
8. Grommet: young surfer
9. Mozzie: mosquito
10. Pash: a long passionate kiss. A pash rash is red irritated skin as the result of a heavy make-out session with someone with a beard.
11. Ripper: really great
12. Roo: kangaroo. A baby roo, still in the pouch, is known as a Joey
13. Root: sexual intercourse. This one can get really get foreigners in trouble. There are numerous stories about Americans coming to Australia telling people how they love to "root for their team." If you come to Australia, you would want to use the word "barrack" instead. On the same note, a "wombat" is someone who eats roots and leaves.
14. Servo: gas station. In Australia, a gas station is called a petrol station. If you ask for gas, don’t be surprised if someone farts.
15. She’ll be right: everything will be all right
16. Sickie: sick day. If you take a day off work when you are not actually sick it’s called chucking a sickie.
17. Slab: 24-pack of beer
18. Sook: to sulk. If someone calls you a sook, it is because they think you are whinging
19. Stubbie holder: koozie or cooler. A stubbie holder is a polystyrene insulated holder for a stubbie, which is a 375ml bottle of beer.
20. Sweet as: sweet, awesome. Aussies will often put ‘as’ at the end of adjectives to give it emphasis. Other examples include lazy as, lovely as, fast as and common as.
21. Ta: thank you
22. Togs: swim suit
23. Tradie: a tradesman. Most of the tradies have nicknames too, including brickie (bricklayer), truckie (truckdriver), sparky (electrician), garbo (garbage collector) and chippie (carpenter).
24. Ute: Utility vehicle, pickup truck
25. Whinge: whine
Good onya, mate! Understanding the Aussies should be easy as now.
Additional Sources: Urban Attitude; All Down Under - Slang Dictionary; Australian Words - Meanings and Origins; Australian Dictionary; Koala Net; Australian Explorer; Up from Australia; YouTube, 2; McDonalds.