Birdies and birdos

To: "" <>
Subject: Birdies and birdos
From: Mark Clayton <>
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2018 00:42:43 +0000

can we please give up on this, what is mostly irrelevant, theme as it has little to do with birds.



On 2/02/2018 11:32 AM, Philip Veerman wrote:

On the small chance that there are more than 3 people interested.... Surely there are at least 3 issues here. I suspect that the o ending of garbo, derives from a humorous or even sarcastic abbreviation of ologist. It surely does in gyno, and likely ento. It is also used in milko, rabbito, muso, ambo, etc. As in these people are not milk, rabbits, music, ambulances but they have some role to do with each. This is also used in chippys and sparkys as carpenters and plumbers. However birdies are the birds, birdos are the people with an interest in birds. Name changes like Johnno, Robbo, Clarko appear to have a different basis. But all this is complex and has taken a lot of editing to even get this little message done.




From: John Harris [m("","john.harris");">]
Sent: Tuesday, 30 January, 2018 3:05 PM
To: Philip Veerman
Cc: chatline
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Birdies and birdos


Thanks Philip. I am sure you are right about that association. But there would still have been a first person to say ‘birdo’. As time drifts on no one will remember that it was related to the Bird Observers and it will simply join the myriad of o words, the musos  and garbos and ambos and salvos (although when I was young they were Sallies). Cheers John




I started my birding involvement with others when I joined the Bird Observers Club, in 1970, aged 13. To me and I suspect to them, “birdo” was always and only an abbreviation of Bird Observer, as in a member of the BOC (later BOCA and more recently merged into BLA) or at least that group of people. I have never suspected of “birdo” having any similar history with Johnno or any other language. Birdy would mean what a dictionary would suggest, birdlike, or even lots of birds.........




From: John Harris [m("","john.harris");">]
Sent: Tuesday, 30 January, 2018 1:45 PM
To: chatline
Subject: [canberrabirds] Birdies and birdos


You are right. There is no fixed rule as to why a diminutive y or ie is used (‘greenies’) as opposed to o (‘muso’). Sometimes the explanation is obvious. We have ‘birdo’ because ‘birdie’ was already in use with another meaning. The y suffix has a long history in the English language and its forbears as an ending which can often be diminutive (tiny, flimsy, silly, crazy) . There are of course all the baby words like pussy, puppy, bunny, doggy, horsey etc.

The o suffix almost certainly came long ago from other European languages. I have had the question of its arbitrary usage all my life. You can’t shorten John so people who want to be familiar think they have to call me Johnny or Johno but there is no rule!

While we do not have a clear rule as to the use of y or o, we do have a set of rules or generalisations about why such diminutives are formed in the first place. Familiarity is certainly one (Lizzie, Tommy, Alfie, Vicky). Surnames often have o rather than y (Tommy vs Tommo). Australians are very inclined to abbreviate and add a diminutive to places, things and activities etc which are a common part of everyday casual speech, especially if they are associated with relaxation or fun – footy, barbie, sunnies etc. We say we shop at Woollies because it is a shortening, sort of, but we don’t try to do anything with Coles. And what could you possible do with Aldi?

Finally, as to the choice between y and o, there may be historical precedents but these days it no doubt comes down to who first said it. Someone – a journalist  no doubt-  had to be the first  person to say ‘pollies’ and it stuck. She/he could have said ‘pollos’ and it would have stuck too. Somebody first called the ‘garbage man’ a ‘garbo’. Someone was the first to shorten Western Suburbian  to ‘Westie’ or Brisbane to ‘Brisie’  and they simply caught on.





From: Geoffrey Dabb m("","gdabb");"> <>
Date: Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 10:03 am
To: chatline m("","canberrabirds");"> <>
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] Off topic ID of Image of insect on pond in Campbell Park


As a person with an interest i the language, I would like to know whether ‘entos’ is indeed legal tender.  We know the Australian tendency to add the semi-affectionate ‘o’ in such abbreviations, and I have wondered if there is a rule that dictates that choice in preference to ‘ies’ (eg fieries, pollies, bookies, roadies (in the entertainment sense),chippies, greenies, cockies. Even ‘blockies’, for persons holding an allocated agricultural block.)


On the other hand, we also have garbos, birdos, musos, commos, winos, reffos. I remember being told that ‘sussos’ built the Great Ocean Road, although that was well before my time.


With ‘ento’ there is perhaps a slight chance of confusion with ‘enterologist’, which could only be avoided by using the longer forms ‘entomos’ and ‘enteros’. The latter are likely to be in practice under the longer title of ‘gastroenterologist’, but ‘gastros’ is not really available for the same reason that reptile persons would not wish to be known as ‘herpos’.


On the subject of ailments, if ‘ento’ is legitimate it will only be a matter of time before ‘csiroento’ is used for the sub-class, and that sounds like something I for one would not wish to be diagnosed with.



From: Con Boekel [m("","con");">]
Sent: Tuesday, 30 January 2018 7:12 AM
To: canberrabirds chatline
Subject: [canberrabirds] Off topic ID of Image of insect on pond in Campbell Park


Thanks to everyone who responded, in particular to the CSIRO entos from the Australian National Insect Collection. The consensus is that the insect is a type of March fly Scaptia auriflua

I must admit that this is the first time in my life that I have felt even a very tiny bit favourably disposed towards a march fly.




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