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The origin of 'bogan'

Feb 18, 2013

The Can of Worms producer rang to check out the origin of 'bogan' for tonight's show. Interesting question. No one can say for sure that it is from the region near the Bogan River in NSW but it does seem the most likely explanation.

This is how it goes. We have various places - some real and some imaginary - that are linked with stereotypes in expressions in Australian English, for example, back of Bourke, or Hell, Hay and Booligal, or Bullamakanka, or Woop Woop. Bogan appears in the phrase 'a Bogan shower' which, with typical outback irony, is a dust storm. Then we have the Bogan gate which is something improvised out of some barbed wire and a few sticks. So Bogan becomes associated with the rough-an-ready makeshift ways of the bush. It is the opposite of city sophistication. It is then applied to a person who is characterised as similarly unsophisticated and becomes a cityslicker word for people from the backblocks. The stereotype is filled out in some of the details but that is the thread of the idea running through it.


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