SPORT

Great News Everybody, It's Perfectly Fine To Call Pommie People 'Poms'

In fact we declare it to be your national duty.

23/11/2017 8:41 AM AEDT | Updated 23/11/2017 1:29 PM AEDT
MARTY MELVILLE via Getty Images
An eccentric Pom. With some other Pommies.

With The Ashes upon us, there really is only one question that matters and that question is not who'll win the five-Test series because hello, obviously that will be Australia.

The question is whether it's OK to call the Poms "Poms". And the answer is yes. You bet it is. In fact, you're pretty much doing it wrong if you're not.

HuffPost Australia just spoke to Julia Robinson, an editor and researcher at the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the ANU in Canberra. She told us that the Australian National Dictionary defines a Pom as:

"An immigrant from the British Isles: applied also more recently to an inhabitant of the British isles, especially of England."

So there you have it. The term "Pom" has no derogatory connotations.

That said, you don't want to take things too far. Robinson said you could stretch the friendship calling someone "a pommie bastard" -- even when the term bastard is employed in a good-humoured way.

There was a really good illustration of that in the 1984 TV miniseries Bodyline, when England captain Douglas Jardine complained about being called a bastard by a fieldsman.

"Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?" Australian player Vic Richardson deliciously retorted.

As for the origin of the term "Pom", Julia Robinson endorsed the research of her former ANDC colleague, the now-retired linguist Dr Bruce Moore.

In 2006, Dr Moore wrote that the term is not, as popular etymology has it, an acronym derived from 'Prisoner Of Mother (England)'. In fact it stems back to about 1860, when the term "jimmygrant", which was rhyming slang for immigrant, was used for English arrivals to Australian shores.

That soon morphed into "pommygrant", from the pomegranate fruit, whose red skin the arrivals were said to resemble. It was shortened to "pommy" and then "pom".

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Two England fans enjoy the first day's play at The Gabba.

So now you know. Meanwhile, the Australian Racial Hatred Act is pretty clear about allowing the word "Pom" but not with nasty adjectives before it.

In its helpful guide to the Act, the Australian Human Rights Commission says:

Newspaper letters and articles which referred to English people as "Poms" or "Pommies" did not meet the threshold for racial hatred.

On the other hand, complaints about two newspaper articles blaming English tourists for littering a local beach and headed "Filthy Poms" and "Poms fill the summer of our discontent" were accepted as complaints and settled through conciliation by the Commission when the newspapers published apologies.

It's pretty clear, people. Poms are Poms and if the Poms don't like being called that, they should probably bugger off back to Pommieland.

Best, perhaps, not to call them "bastard whingeing Poms", though. To their face, at least.

More On This Topic