A bogan by any other name

MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 11:42 19/06/2012
CHRIS HILLOCK/ WAIKATO TIMES
HEAVY METAL MAN: Dave Snell has completed a doctorate research study in bogans.

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The Oxford Dictionary has revised its definition of the word bogan but Kiwi bogans are unlikely to agree.

Bogan was included in a list of new word entries Oxford Dictionary issued this month.

The word has long been part of the New Zealand and Australian vocabulary and recognised as slang for someone who is working class, listens to heavy metal music, wears jeans and black t-shirts, and could often be spotted with a beer in hand, while enjoying a barbeque with mates.

That's how PhD graduate and bogan researcher Dave Snell defines it, but the Oxford Dictionary's definition isn't as broad.

The dictionary described bogan as being an Australian and New Zealand informal word, meaning: "A boringly conventional or old-fashioned person," or "an uncouth or uncultured person".

"As a bogan I'm quite offended at the idea that the definition includes an uncultured person. I think it's just a different culture," said Snell.

"Bogan culture takes a lot of New Zealand culture characteristics. It's almost like New Zealand culture in a concentrated form."

Lexicographer and NZ Dictionary Centre director Dianne Bardsley said the definition pertained to a "lack of conventional culture".

While the word was not included in the 1997 edition of the Dictionary of New Zealand English, the centre does have its own definition, which was simply "a person of low status".

Factors that were taken into consideration when including or revising a word in a dictionary included how a word was used, by whom and when, as well as where it originated from, Bardsley said.

The term stemmed from when the Irish first arrived in New Zealand and Australia.

"They had a hard time...in fact the Australians used to call a dust storm a bogan shower.

"It's got this history of degradation."

Bardsley said while the word bogan had existed for a long time, "it's not a term your grandmother would use".

A group of first year Auckland University linguistics students recently studied bogans and concluded that those aged under 30 were more likely to consider a bogan a good thing, compared to those over 30.

"Younger Kiwis are more likely to say being a bogan is about individualism and identity, being 'who you are', while older Kiwis (if they know the word at all) are more likely to see it as something negative," Professor of Linguistics, Miriam Meyerhoff, said.

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