A Weekend in Tassie

I refer to this word "bloody" that has been mentioned. I am an Australian. "Bloody" is a colloquial Australian term. It may well  have been a swear word prior to World War I. It may well have been a swear word in 1910. However, it is not today.

Peter Beattie, Premier of Queensland, 24 August 1999. 

I thought he would be an alright bloke for the job so I appointed him... I didn't consult me bloody cabinet

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke commenting on his appointment of Governor General Bill Hayden, 14 October 1999

So I went into the kitchen, and came face-to-face with a big bloody roo.

Mr Olsen, Toorbul, Sunday Mail, 23 July, 2000

That bloody crocodile has just bitten me!

Victim tells of croc attack terror,, 8 April 2005

So, we have met the future of men's tennis. He is blue-eyed, blond, wears his cap backward, says "mate" and "bloody" a lot and looks as if he'd be perfect in the Olympic halfpipe

Hewett Walks Open Road, LA Times, 18 March 2002

"Gallipoli was a bastard of a place," he said. "I never understood what we were fighting for. All I could think of was that I never wanted to go back to the bloody place."

Albert White, aged 100, Brisbane, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 May 2002

The message is clear - "Shut Bloody Gate" - Outback WA

Bloody has been termed the great Australian adjective.  It is pretty bloody well used every-bloody-where by just about bloody well everyone.  Bloody oath it is. 

They were proud of their mateship and egalitarianism. Manning Clark writes in his A History of Australia of a British staff captain who ticked off an Australian private for failing to salute him [in WW1]. 'The Australian patted him on the shoulder and said, "Young man, when you go home, you tell your mother that today you've seen a real bloody soldier"'.

Phillip Knightley, Australia: A Biography of a Nation, 2000

It serves two purposes. First, it provides emphasis.  For example, one could say that the Brisbane Broncos played bloody badly.  This is much worse than the plain 'the Brisbane Broncos played badly'.  The word may also be inserted in-between words (or even a word) to provide emphasis:

Who are we playing this weekend?
Brisbane Bloody Grammar. 

Recently coke has based an advertising campaign picturing an attractive sole skulling a big 'buddy' bottle of coke under the description "sen-buddy-sational". This is, of course, a play on "sen-bloody-sational" which is fairly common.  

Second, it be used as a negative adjective.  For example, if a boss asks where bloody Downie is, then Downie is possibly in strife or at the least in the bad books.  One may also ask, "where is the bloody thing".  

Mr Seeney: I made my first speech here in this Parliament on 30 July 1998
Mr Schwarten: A bloody beauty!
Mr Seeney: The member for Rockhampton is right: it was a bloody beauty.

Qld Parliament Hansard, 3 March 1999

As would be expected, bloody has a long history in Australia.  Baker notes an apology by William Kelly, Life In Victoria (1859):

I must be excused for the frequent use of this odious word in giving colonial dialogues, because general conversation amongst the middle and lower classes at the antipodes is always highly seasoned with it. 

And he notes the words of the Bulletin (1893):

The Bulletin calls it the Australian adjective simply because it is more used and used more exclusively by Australians than by any other allegedly civilised nation.

In 1939 an Australian magistrate held that bloody was not indecent at law, even though it might sometimes be offensive.  The offender was fined one pound in this instance.  By 1942 however, bloody was held to not be regarded as swearing.  Nowadays, it is very mild, and its use, rather than causing offence, merely indicates the informality of the situation. 

Well, at least that was thought. Recently there was a bit of a stir because the Premier of Queensland, Mr Peter Beattie, used the word bloody in parliament. However, the stir from the public wasn't so much that it had been used, but that the opposition made such a fuss out of the whole issue.

So what actually happened on that fateful day of Friday 17 August, 1999?

Dr WATSON: I withdraw. All one has to do is look at what was tabled in the House. There is no question that what was tabled in the House was a letter absence of the appendix! 
Mr Beattie: And is it my fault that the bloodyClerk's office lost it?
Dr WATSON: I am just saying what happened.
Mr BORBIDGE:  I rise to a point of order. Is it acceptable to the Chair to have the Premier swearing at the Clerk across the Chamber in response to the issue? 
Mr BORBIDGE: That is outrageous.
Mr BORBIDGE: That is absolutely disgraceful.
Mr BEATTIE: I rise to a point of order. That is offensive and untrue. I did nothing of the kind, and the Leader of the Opposition knows it.

Well if that were the end of it, so be it.  But it wasn't. According to the honourable Mr Beanland, MP:

That is unparalleled and unprecedented in the history of this State. Members here witnessed what must go down in the records of this place as one of the most disgraceful and unprincipled acts ever witnessed.

Of course, the Premier struck back:

I refer to this word "bloody" that has been mentioned. I am an Australian. "Bloody" is a colloquial Australian term. It may well  have been a swear word prior to World War I. It may well have been a swear word in 1910. However, it is not today.

The Courier Mail damned the episode and recommended that they all "get on with the bloody job and stop wasting our time and money".  Even chief reporter Tony Koch blared that "it was an absolute bloody outrage".  It does seem a little odd when you consider that bloody has been bloody well used by the bloody mongrel pollies in parliament for a bloody long time.

I say here today that parochialism is death, no matter where one lives. I could get up in this place and say that the only part of Queensland that matters is western Queensland pretty bloodyright but at the end of the day, it is only part of Queensland.

Hon. Mr Johnston, 24 Aug 1999 debating in parliament the Tourism Legislation Amendment Bill. 

There are going to be some bloody mammoth changes -- some mammoth changes which the Budget will disclose. Bloody mammoth changes, that is the only way you can describe them.  I think Frank Crean has done a bloody good job to stand up to the place. Bloody oath, he has done a marvellous job in standing up to the bloody place....

          Federal Minister of Transport Mr Charles Jones, 1973, discussing the forthcoming budget.

If he thought the bloody ball went backwards he'd be the only bloody bloke on the ground that did

Ross Livermore, Qld Rugby League Managing Director, The Australian, 12 May 2000

TRUST the bloody Poms - they can dish it out but they can't take it. More than four centuries after the word "bloody" first appeared in English, British authorities have rejected its use in an advertising campaign to promote Australia as a tourist destination.

Upholder of British advertising purity washes our mouths out with soap, SMH, 10 March 2005

Not only are we about to cream the Poms in just about everything at the Commonwealth Games, but it appears that our indefatigable Tourism Minister Fran Bailey has bloody well convinced the bloody bastards that they bloody well can't ban “bloody” in our bloody tourism ads.

Christian Kerr, Fran Bailey's tourism triumph is a bloody medal winner,, 16 March 2006

Any chance of this great Australian adjective dying? Not bloody likely.

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