Vale Barry Humphries!

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Last Saturday Australian πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί 🎭 comedy legend Barry Humphries passed away aged 89.

You might know Humphries better as Dame Edna Everage πŸ‘“πŸŒΊ, the vicious-tongued housewife-turn-international gigastar from the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds (yes, such a place does exist).

What is less acknowledged is that as one of Australia’s most widely known cultural exports, Humphries through Dame Edna Everage was instrumental in exposing worldwide audiences to Australian English 🦘, particularly to some of our more expressive phrases.

πŸ“ƒ As this BBC report states, Humphries helped popularise Australian English phrases worldwide, ranging from “hello possums” to some of his own: “as dry as a kookaburra’s khyber” (very dry), and “to syphon the python” and “to point Percy at the porcelain” (both terms for urinating).

πŸ—£ Interestingly, while his characters spoke in the distinctive Broad Australian accent, Humphries himself spoke in the prestige (but rapidly disappearing) Cultivated Australian accent. Others who speak this way include Australian actors Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.

πŸ‘‘ Surprising fact: despite having lived in the UK for most of his professional life, as well as having performed countless times before the Royal family, Humphries was an advocate of Australia cutting the colonial cord and becoming a republic. So as a show of support, for a while in the nineties and noughties Humphries dropped “Dame” from Edna Everage’s name for appearances and shows in Australia.

✝ Vale Barry Humphries! Goodbye possums…