I guess he thought he could have gone faster

by John Q on July 8, 2004

Talking of transatlantic language differences, I was quite surprised to see this headline in the Washington Post. And I thought Australians took sport too seriously.



Jeremy Osner 07.08.04 at 1:16 pm

Ok, now you’ve got me curious — what does that mean in Australian?


lady c 07.08.04 at 1:21 pm

Perhaps an infelicitous wording, but the “over-the-top” enthusiasm is because Phelps is a local story (Maryland). WaPo is part national, part company-town (gov’t/politics) and part home-town (DC Maryland & Virginia). In this case the story is “home town boy makes good.” As for the Ausie comparison, there was more coverage by the WaPo of the return of Joe Gibbs as Redskins coach than of John Kerry’s VP pick.


KCinDC 07.08.04 at 1:26 pm

Jeremy: In British slang, “tops himself” means “kills himself”.


Giles 07.08.04 at 1:49 pm

Did he jump or was he pushed – the coach denies responsiblity

“I don’t think I pushed him at all,” Vendt said.


rvman 07.08.04 at 5:31 pm

I was thinking the S&M term “to top”. I mean, he may have gone faster, but it wasn’t anything to beat himself up over.


Giles 07.08.04 at 6:32 pm

While we’re on the theme of divided by a common language I came across this one recently – a yank described a certain paper as “dinky” – I took that to mean “good” whereas he meant to imply the opposite.

As I understand it the word has three meanings depending on which ocean you cross; it means:

Small and bad (in a toyish sense) in American. So, for instance, you might use it to describe a simplistic and potentially misleading undergraduate concept.

Small and good (equivocally) in British. So, for instance, you’d use to describe something like Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage.

Good (unequivocally) in Australian. So for instance, you’d use it to describe a concept like the pub.

So a phrase like
“John Quiggin topped himself with quite a dinky post”
has potentially 12 meanings.


getadink 07.08.04 at 7:51 pm

I only know the American usage and I’m Australian. Never heard it used in the sense you described for Australia. Not a very common word to use over here full-stop. Also, a “dink” is when someone lets you hitch a ride on their bicycle, usually perched on the handlebars.


Michael Honey 07.08.04 at 11:06 pm

I’m Australian, and “tops himself” definitely means “kills himself” – I’ve always thought of it as a violent auto-trephination. Also: “Dinky-di” means “genuine, honest, the the real thing” (and was the name of a brand of dog food in the mid-20th century). “Dinky” to me means “cute, but not to be taken seriously”, and “dink” is, as getadink says, to give someone a bike ride. I have heard that in Canada, dinking (as with riding in the UK) is something that two people do in more intimate circumstances…


taylor 07.08.04 at 11:56 pm

In Canada “dink” is slang for penis.


dave heasman 07.09.04 at 9:58 am

In England the “topping-shed” was the execution area in prisons.


Merkin 07.09.04 at 1:56 pm

…and not an ice cream van in sight.
dumb joke


andreas 07.12.04 at 2:48 am

was thinking the S&M term “to top”. I mean, he may have gone faster, but it wasn’t anything to beat himself up over.

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