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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

What’s in a name?

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It is disheartening to see in printed material, careless abbreviations of our local place names. On a recent issue, in bold type on the front page it announced ‘Sculptures Hit Bruns’, and referred once again in the text to ‘Bruns’. In last weeks paper, there were again references to ‘Bruns’ and ‘Mullum’, and in one heading, ‘Govt’ instead of Government.

I understand that it’s a very Australian term of endearment to abbreviate our place names. It’s fine for local surfers or fisherman to use in conversation, but it sends a message to visitors that we are too lazy or stupid to care (if they are even able to decipher the place we are referring to). Instead of using proper names we end up with dopey sounding slang like ‘Bruns’, ‘Mullum’, ‘Potty’, ‘Murbah’, ‘Kingy’, and ‘Caba’ (which by the way would be pronounced ‘Kayba’, requiring an extra letter B to be added, to become ‘Cabba’). A local business, incredibly enough, has actually done just this, thereby changing the name of the place entirely. It sounds idiotic and displayed in print or as a business name it is appalling.

Names such as Brunswick Heads, Mullumbimby, Cabarita and Murwillumbah are all wonderfully strong and characteristic in their entirety, and deserve, at least when written, to be given their respect. It only takes a fraction of a second to pronounce or print them properly. We can’t just go around changing the spelling of our towns in the name of cuteness. Nowhere else in the known world does this sort of thing like us Aussies do – it’s moronic, and as my partner rightfully pointed out, very possibly insulting to the traditional owners of the land from which many of these wonderful names originate.

Sean O’Hara, Suffolk Park


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