Re: Drongo in the pejorative

Subject: Re: Drongo in the pejorative
From: (Denis Abbott)
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 1997 16:41:18 +1000 (EST)
G'day Glen & Birding ozzers (I repied to Glen ysterday but since I've keyed
in all this stuff about drongos I thought it could be shared)

Glad to hear that things are bearable for you but I hope that pain recedes

Well here's devotion to a cause. I'm in here on Sat arvo. Sidney J. Baker's
"The Australian language"(first pub. 1945 rev. 1966) did have more on the
derivation of drongo:

pp. 135-136
"...seems to have come from the use of Drongo as the name of a horse. To
quote: "In Melbourne, in the early 'twenties, a Victorian horse by the name
of Drongo won a certain claim to fame by consistently finishing last or
near last. Black-and-white artist Sammy Wells, then of the Melbourne
"Herald", adopted Drongo as a character in his political and sporting
cartoons. Drongo was the no-hoper in every situation..."
A correspondent who devoted much time to studying the origin of drongo,
says that the horse with that name raced five times in 1923 and sixth was
his best placing. In 1924, he had fifteen starts, running two seconds,
three thirds, one fifth and one sixth (one of the seconds was in the V.R.C.
Victoria Derby; the other was in the St Leger Stakes). In 1925 Drongo
earned three seconds and four thirds. Which makes one wonder whether Sammy
Wells was fair in nominating the horse as an all-round no-hoper. My
correspondent adds: "It occurs to me that, as the glossy black plumage of
the Australian bird called the Drongo is sometimes described as dark blue,
this may have been the actual start of the slang usage of the word, and the
association with the horse-that-never-won-a-race merely an afterthought.
All new service recruits are traditionally regarded as no-hopers by the old
hands - which may explain why the raw recruits to the R.A.A.F. got the name
about 1940"

p. 307
In a section on the use of names from flora and fauna Baker talks of the
use of: "..morepork to describe a simpleton or dull-witted person....Today,
morepork has faded from use, but two other bird names, galah and drongo,
have taken over."

Regards, Denis

PS The 40 spots are still there and in good nos. At least 8 a couple of
sundays back.

Denis Abbott                                            ph:(03) 62 325 257
Librarian                                               Int: (61 3) 62 325 257
CSIRO Marine Laboratories                               Fax: (03) 62 325 103
GPO Box 1538                                            Int: (61 3) 62 325 103
Hobart Tas
Australia 7001

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