Monday, 20 July 2015

Poking the Borax... er... Borak

Language can be tricky, right? Especially when we only hear things said, and rarely, if ever, see them written down.

I had always thought the phrase "Poking the borax" meant that we were being somewhat on the margins on funny and being acid-tongued about something that was currently going on in our world... and that the phrase may have arisen from using borax on wash day.

You see, borax is a naturally occurring mineral, a combo of borax pentahydrate, sodium borate, sodium tetraborate and disodium tetraborate. Mildly toxic, the powder dissolves in water very easily, creating an alkaline, antiseptic solution that you can use as a general cleaner, stain remover, disinfectant and deodoriser. Your grannie will have chucked it in the wash along with some blue bag with the whites.

Well, no. The phrase is not borax, but an Aboriginal word, borak. It means fun or ridicule, so when we poke 'borak' at something, we are making fun of it. I think it contains some nuance of derision.

So we all need to remember in future to poke the borak. The borax stays with Grannie's wash day.

Damn. The borax thing sounded so logical, too!!



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