English has a word for it
Probably most people have heard the claim that Eskimo languages have an unusually large number of words for “snow”.
This idea was first propounded by Franz Boas in 1911, and it fitted his anti-British, anti-Western agenda by implying that the Inuit are just as clever as those White people who have many separate words for other things that are more important in our own culture. The claim has since been extended by others with the same axe to grind. For instance, a 1984 editorial in the New York Times claimed that the number of Eskimo words for “snow” totalled 100. That claim has since, and predictably, been debunked.
Of course, the English language has many more words than any Eskimo language for concepts related to science, technology, the arts, philosophy, trades, religion, navigation, etc, etc, etc. But given that snow is common in the regions that gave birth to our language, it would be surprising if we didn’t have at least as many words for “snow” as any other language.
Well, it turns out that we do. In fact, we have far more!
Researchers at the University of Glasgow have been compiling a list of words in the Lowland Scottish dialect of English for a new publication called “Historical Thesaurus of Scots”. (https://scotsthesaurus.org/) So far they have garnered 421 terms relating to “snow”, and the list is growing. These include “spitters”, small drops of wind-driven snow; “findriken”, a slight snow shower; and “snaw-ghaist”, an apparition seen in the snow.
Many of the lies and hoaxes perpetrated for Anglophobic propaganda reasons by Franz Boas and his followers have been exposed in the last few decades by genuine scholars. Alas, his exaggerated claim about Eskimo words for “snow” has become a sort of urban myth that is believed by many despite the lack of any supporting evidence.
This new research from the University of Glasgow should – but probably won’t – put paid to one of the last popular legacies of the falsehood of this pseudo-scientist.
Eskimos did not have 100 words for snow, but the Lowland Scots dialect of English most certainly does have more than 400 words for the same phenomena.
Queen’s birthday holiday is true blue
If you work anywhere in Australia other than Queensland and Western
Australia you will be given a holiday on the second Monday in June. But you
won’t get this holiday if you live in New Zealand, Canada or the United
Being a laid-back people, most Aussies are happy to accept the day off that
is known as the Queen’s Birthday holiday – even though some may wonder why we have it, or even why it’s held when it is. Yet each year, as the date approaches, a few sad sacks whinge that the holiday is some sort of antiquated deference to Britain, or forelock-tugging to the current monarch. These whingers usually have too much time on their hands, and too little brain to research the historical background of our uniquely Australian holiday. Perhaps the most temperate expression of this criticism came from former Liberal Senator and current Tasmanian MP, Guy Barnett. Back in June 2006 Barnett claimed that the Queen’s Birthday has “little relevance to any Australian historical context”. He also said it was an “embarrassing anomaly”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, our June holiday is a
custom that grew out of our own, uniquely Australian, historical experience.And it expresses some of the finest virtues of our Australian version of diasporic British culture.
It all started on June 4, 1788, the birthday of King George III, when
Governor Arthur Phillip granted a holiday to the little settlement at Sydney
Cove, authorising it to be celebrated “with every demonstration of joy
permitted”. Cannons were fired, a band played, bonfires burned through the night and several convicts were pardoned. As Phillip wrote, “For the twenty-four hours I believe there was not one heavy heart in this part of His Majesty’s dominions.”
The custom of having a holiday on or near the actual birthday of the ruling
monarch continued from 1788 to 1936, at which time most Australian states
agreed to hold the holiday on a Monday near the birthday of the then-current monarch, King George V. By either good luck or good management, George V’s birthday was June 3, which was close enough to the June 4 birthday of George III that had originally given rise to the ceremony. Western Australia had to fall out of step because it already had its own
Foundation Day on June 1.
Our Queen’s Birthday holiday is therefore entirely Australian, as “true
blue” as the First Fleet. Instead of calling it an “embarrassing anomaly”,
republicans such as former-Senator Barnett should be proud that Australia’s first and oldest public holiday was officially described as a day of
“general rejoicing, festivity and forgiveness”. Looking back from our
current era it is easy to see the very first of these holidays, on June 4,
1788, as a tribute to the enlightenment and compassion of the truly great
man without whose wisdom the tiny British settlement at Sydney Cove may not have grown into the wonderful nation in which we are all now privileged to live.
(As a footnote, in case any reader is wondering, the actual birthday of the
present monarch is 21 April. That of her son, the heir-apparent, is 14
November. And for foreign readers: No, there is no desire in Australia to
change our unique holiday to either of those dates.)
The first Muslim attack on Australia
This is the only known photo of Alma Cowie, who was aged 17 when she became the first victim of Muslim terrorism on Australian soil.
It happened on the first of January, 1915. The good Anglo-Celtic folks of Broken Hill had decided on a holiday, so 1200 locals set off from the NSW mining town on forty open railway carriages. They were heading for Stephen’s Creek at Silverton, about 15 miles from Broken Hill.
What the innocent holiday-goers didn’t know was that the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed V, the supreme leader of all Muslims worldwide in those days, had declared a “holy war” against British people, wherever we might reside, anywhere in the world.
Nor did the happy holidayers know that, although they had done their best to provide a new and better home for two Muslim “refugees”, these two aliens were to turn fatally against them – as so many “Muslim refugees” have done since those days.
The two ingrates were named Badsha Mahomed Gool and Mullah Abdullah. Gool was a devout Muslim who became an Ottoman soldier before somehow ending up in Broken Hill, where he ran an icecream cart. Abdullah was a camel driver. Both of them had been welcomed into the outback Anglo-Celtic community of NSW. Fatally so.
Their unsuspecting holidaying victims could not have guessed what was to hit them as they chugged up on the train toward the cool waters of Stephen’s Creek. The first thing that some of them noticed was a Turkish flag flying over Badsha Gool’s icecream cart. Then, from a distance of about sixty feet, the two treacherous Muslims opened fire. Two Australians were immediately killed: Alma Cowie and Alfred Millard. Six other innocents were injured.
Despite subsequent attempts at resistance, the terrorists were not easily brought to justice. Gool and Abdullah went on to murder two other non-Muslims on that same day: William Shaw and James Craig. Meanwhile, the Australian police had been notified of the Muslims’ atrocities. The police called for help from the local army base. When the authorities encountered Gool and Abdullah near the Cable Hotel, the terrorists shot and wounded Constable Mills. Armed members of the public then turned up, and a long firefight ensued. Between the police, the army and the armed Australian civilians, the Muslim terrorists were extinguished.
That was merely the first time that foreign-born Muslims chose to kill British Australians. Bear in mind the date of the ‘Battle of Broken Hill’: January 1, 1915. It was a long time ago, but since then there have been many other examples of friendly Australian people opening our communities to aliens who turn out to be terrorists.
An unusual Anglo-Australian sport: Arrow-throwing!
In 1903 Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey completed a book called The Crossbow[i]. In this work he described a quaint and ancient custom of Yorkshire:
In a few parts of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the ancient pastime of arrow-throwing is a popular sport among the pit-men. Sometimes as many as a couple of thousand spectators witness a contest between two noted performers. An arrow-thrower will often practise daily for several weeks before he engages in a match, in order to accustom his arm to stand the strain required of it when throwing the arrow.
In these arrow-throwing matches a considerable amount of money is lost or won, and the couple of men competing often throw for a stake of from £20 to £30, that has been subscribed for them by their supporters. [ii]
The matches are decided by the aggregate distance of an equal number of throws (usually from twenty to thirty) by each competitor.
The ordinary thrower will cast the arrow from 240 to 250 yards, a very skilful thrower will send it from 280 to 300 yards, the record throw being 372 yards.
Though the finished arrow has neither metal head nor feathers nor any form of nock, yet it flies through the air with the true and graceful curve of the best arrow used in archery.
Sir Ralph (1848-1916) lived at Thirkleby Park, Thirsk. The Glasgow Museum holds his collection of crossbows, including the one he used to fire a bolt across the Menai Strait, a flight of about a quarter of a mile, or maybe 400 metres.
The Australian connection with Yorkshire arrow-throwing began with a post-war British child-migrant from Wakefield, A. E. Clay. As he recalled in 1994:
… as a new migrant to Sydney I made my first visit to the scout troop I’d been asked to lead.
There I was, among 30 boys and their fathers, baggy khaki shirt with long sleeves, green beret, corduroy shorts (Aussies were all in navy serge shorts and socks), strange scarf, pale skin and funny accent as well.
I thought it would be hard to fit in but when a game was called for I headed for the bush, selected a long, straight stick suitable for a throwing arrow. As I showed the boys how to make a ﬂight, the bit of string, peeled back the bark and smoothed the arrow, the boys were curious and disbelieving at its ability to ﬂy. “Where’s the bow?” they asked.
The arrow was launched over trees and camp site to disappear into the bracken a good 150-200 yards away. The boys were amazed and dads flabbergasted but Skip (that’s what they called me) was in! Arrow throwing contests were events on many [scout] camps for years.
The ideal wood for a throwing arrow is “common ash” (fraxinus excelsior), but any hard-grained wood that isn’t too heavy should work. The shaft is about one yard long, and begins with a diameter of about half an inch (about 13 millimetres). The leading edge is whittled to a 1.5inch-long point, shaped like the front of a javelin. The body of the arrow is then scraped and sanded so that it’s about a quarter of an inch at the back. There is no fletching and no notch at the back.
According to Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey the record distance for a throwing arrow (back in 1903!) was 372 yards, or about 340 metres. Obviously this couldn’t be achieved with an unaided hand-throw. The trick was to use a piece of string, which seems to have been about 4 feet long. A simple knot was tied at one end. The knot was then placed against the arrow, about two-thirds back from the point. The string was then looped around the shaft, over the knot, and tensioned. The other end of the string was wrapped around the first two fingers of the throwing hand, and held firm while the throwing hand held the arrow near its point.
This is rather hard to describe, so two images from a different cultural tradition might help:
(Bear in mind that Yorkshire/Australian hand-arrows were not fletched)
(An arrow thrown like this, by a Yorkshire or Australian expert, could hit its target at a range of up to 340 metres.)
Some readers of Endeavour Online might like to try their hands at re-creating this neglected art. If so, we’d be interested to hear your experimental results.
[i]Original publishers: Longmans, Green & Co; re-published in 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing.
[ii] Considerably more than $5,000 today
The Imperial Federation League: Due for a revival?
By Alan James
In 1884, in London, a new organization was founded: the Imperial Federation League. Its aim was to bring about a full political union with Britain of all the white colonies and dominions. This would be a complete federation, just like the federation of the Australian colonies that eventually occurred in 1901.
The general idea was that Britain and the dominions would have one imperial parliament — Westminster, but without its local responsibilities. Local parliaments throughout the Empire would then handle home affairs issues such as education.
The British branch of the IFL, chaired by Lord Rosebery until 1892, was soon joined by branches in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Predictably, one of the strongest supporters of the Australian branch was Alfred Deakin, a driving force behind the federation of the Australia colonies.
Even more important to the Australian branch, though, was its founder, Dr James Moorhouse (1826-1915). In 1876 this Church of England bishop was appointed to the see of Melbourne (Victoria, Australia). A brilliant scholar and charismatic speaker, Moorhouse was the man who chose the site of Melbourne’s current Anglican cathedral, chose the architect to design it, raised the money to build it, and trained local priests from scratch to man the diocese.
Moorhouse’s tolerance, practicality and broad-mindedness endeared him to the colony, and many were dismayed when in 1886 he was recalled to England to become Bishop of Manchester. However, before he left, he addressed a huge meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall, calling for imperial unity.
According to the Melbourne Argus:
After showing that it is to the interest, and for the advantage, of the Colonies to keep close to the Mother Land, inasmuch as they would otherwise be an easy prey to a powerful and ambitious state, and arguing that it would be best for the world at large that England should be the leader, and English civilisation the civilisation of the future, Bishop Moorhouse concluded as follows :
“For, look, what is the alternative? We must either separate from England in order to escape Imperial dangers, or federate with England to gain Imperial privileges. (Cheers) And can we separate in this era of world kingdoms? (No!) No! a thousand times no; because of the sentiment of patriotism, because of our enlightened self-interest, we cannot, we dare not separate. (Loud cheers.) What follows, logically? Make the union a more real union; and give more power of control and a better representation to those who are willing to spend their blood and their treasure in the defence of the whole. (Hear, hear.) One word more, and I have done. I have heard it said to-night, as I have heard it said before, that there are great difficulties connected with the subject. Of course there are. But how do we answer that? By doing as the mover of the amendment besought us? By throwing crude schemes before you? No; that is not the way to proceed. What we are doing is this. We answer: Is the end we seek a great one; is it a necessary one; is the British race, wherever it lives, persuaded of that fact? Then, if it is so, difficulties are nothing but things to be overcome. (Cheers) Look at what Bismarck did. He had to federate Germany. And what was Germany? A set of hostile kingdoms and principalities, which stood opposed to one another in arms, and had, therefore, inherited jealousies, suspicions, and hatreds, which are always begotten of such collisions. It was one of the hardest problems ever set to the human mind; but Bismarck said that Germany must and shall be one, and therefore found the means. Do they mean to tell me that we have no Bismarcks in the British race, that our statesmen are so degenerate that, given an end of supreme national importance, they cannot find a way to it? Well, then, I say we shall have to make new leaders, or import them. (Cheers) We are a great race, with a great past, and great faculties, and a great future, and we will have all men who are unaware of these facts to learn them, and to give due weight to them. Therefore, I say, let England, this British Empire, let it give to us what we already possess, this perfect liberty to legislate for our local wants. Let it adopt frankly some such scheme as that which obtains in the United States. I believe that if it did it would put an end to Irish difficulties. (Cheers) Let it give that to us, and we shall be ready to make sacrifice in the common cause. What shall be the war contingent? What shall be the war contribution? If England will only thus conciliate these opposing interests, as only great empires can, I think that the future of our country and of our race will be more glorious than the past has been. Yes, and more fruitful to the whole world in the blessings of freedom, and happiness, and peace.”
In 1905 Alfred Deakin became president of the Australian branch of the IFL founded by Dr Moorhouse. Imperial Trade Preferences were gradually introduced, particularly after the Ottawa Conference in 1932, with the intention of binding the Empire closer together. By 1947, however, Imperial Preferences were outlawed by the ‘General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs’, imposed on the former British Empire by the United Nations. When the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community in 1973, a huge wedge was driven between the Mother Country and the former colonies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Britain’s loyalty to British people elsewhere in the Commonwealth was abandoned for an entry ticket to Europe. Australia in particular suffered badly from the new European trade protection that excluded us from our traditional UK markets. Butter exports dropped by 90%; apple exports by over 30%. Worse still was the sense of abandonment and betrayal that was loudly expressed by leading Australian politicians at the time. However, the 2016 Brexit vote offers a glimmer of hope that the old dream of Imperial Federation might be revived in some form. If the current UK government carries through the expressed will of the UK electorate Britain will once again be free to make trade deals with Australia, to our mutual benefit. There’s the potential for a free trade agreement that could pave the way for something like the Imperial Preferences that followed the Ottawa Conference in 1932. But most importantly, with trade leading the way, our frayed relationship could be repaired in other respects. The emotional ties between these two great and predominantly Anglo-Celtic nations might even be restored to what they once were. Only time will tell – but the prospects for fraternal reconciliation are rosier now than they have been at any time in the last five decades.