sledge

From David Nash on Google+, this ad (from Australia, I assume):

(meaning, ‘in the native language of the country where the games will be held, namely Brazil’ — that is, in Brazilian Portuguese).

The verb sledge was new to me, though David quickly explained it to me.

From Urban Dictionary:

commonly used in sports to insult players from an opposing team. the sport with the highest amount of sledging is cricket, with one player having to stand in the middle of the opposing team for what could be hours on end. because cricket requires supreme concentration; witty, clever and insulting sledges can be useful in putting the batsman off his game.

(similarly in football, i.e. soccer).

Taunting of this sort is common in sports in all parts of the world (see my posting on a vulgar chant in soccer, and google on “sports taunting”). What’s notable here is the verb sledge referring to it. It’s not in Green’s Dictionary of Slang or of course in the OED. It turns out to be specifically Australian. From A Dictionary of Australian Slang:

sledge Verbal abuse of one sports player to another in order to break focus on the play. The Oxford Australian lists it as a cricket term pertaining to a fielder heckling a batter. However, I heard it on the news with regard to a footy player sledging another player, i.e., insulting someone on the opposing team in a moment of heated play. This is identified as a uniquely Australian colloquialism, and I recently heard the story of its origin on a British talk show, starring Australia’s own Dame Edna. Shane Warne, a recently retired and very celebrated Australian cricket player, appeared as a guest. Warne explained that sledge means “when you have a go at an opposition player.” He said that years ago there was a famous Australian cricket player who was particularly aggressive in hurling verbal abuse at the other team’s batters. His unusually combative heckling style won him the nickname of Sledgehammer, and as such things go in Australia, it was very quickly fashioned into the verb to sledge. (link)

A nice story, and possibly true, though it sounds like a mythetymology.

[Added later: the Australian cricketer Ian Bell has the nickname The Sledgehammer of Eternal Justice, but he’s young (age 31) and still playing, and he seems to be the object of sledging rather than a perpetrator.]

3 Responses to “sledge”

  1. David Nash Says:

    Yes, it’s on a bus shelter outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and its angle is thankfully missing from the ad for the course http://www.cae.edu.au/web/?class=DLN69701
    And anyway it’s a bit wide of the mark, as readers of the ad are hardly going to be prospective players in the World Cup! Though spectators can also have a go at sledging.

  2. David Nash Says:

    The AND http://australiannationaldictionary.com.au has an entry for it. The earliest citation is 1975, but note this quotation “1982 Sydney Morning Herald 4 Nov. 10/2 The court has been told by Ian Chappell that the expression ‘sledging’ first came into vogue among cricketers in 1963–64. It came from the expression ‘subtle as a sledgehammer’ at a time when a man called Percy Sledge had a song on the English hit parade.”

  3. Julia Robinson Says:

    The earliest evidence for ‘sledging’ in print is still 1975, as recorded in the Australian National Dictionary. Recent investigation at the Dictionary Centre (ANU, Canberra, Australia) shows that during the 1980s the term spread from cricket to other sports, such as Rugby League, wrestling, and sailing. Obviously far too useful a term to leave to cricketers. And by the late 1980s it was being used figuratively (‘I am a loyal Australian and I don’t want to be seen to be sledging Australia’ – says a tax lawyer in a news report). Naturally it was also bandied up by those professions most experienced in sledging, parliamentarians and barristers, who accuse their colleagues of the practice. The etymology of sledging is currently a work in progress at the Dictionary Centre.

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