kleios_kiss (kleios_kiss) wrote in linguaphiles,

Australian English

I was reading an Australian news article that is pretty lol-worthy, which I shall post here: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/fight-breaks-out-in-queue-to-pat-koalas-20140128-31kbp.html

The headline for this says, "Fight breaks out in queue to pat koalas".

The first sentence, which is an amazing first sentense, is this "A wildlife park visitor has been accused of assaulting another man and threatening him with a knife after complaining that it was his turn to pat the koalas."

My question: Pat? Is "pat" past tense for "pet" in Australian English, or is it a separate word that essentially serves the same function, or is this just some koala-specific human action?

Lol any help would be awesome, thanks!

Edited because I was in a rush when I wrote this and rereading some of the grammar made me cringe.
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muckefuck

January 28 2014, 22:59:51 UTC 11 months ago

1. To (gently) tap the flat of one's hand on a person or thing.
2. To hit lightly and repeatedly with the flat of the hand to make smooth or flat
3. (Australia, New Zealand) To stroke or fondle (an animal).
4. To gently rain.

Source
So of your three options, "a separate word that essentially serves the same function" is probably closest the mark.

whswhs

January 28 2014, 23:43:26 UTC 11 months ago

In my English idiolect (I'm southern Californian), 1 and 2 are commonplace (though I would more likely use 1 in reference to my girlfriend's butt than my cat); 3 is possible; I've never heard of 4 and it sounds weird to me. Do people say, like, "It's patting outside"? I say "sprinkle" or "drizzle" for that.

muckefuck

11 months ago

kleios_kiss

11 months ago

whswhs

11 months ago

mspixieears

January 28 2014, 23:04:05 UTC 11 months ago

'Pat' is just a general verb to indicate affectionate tactile contact with an animal (usually a pet). I think it's pretty much another word for 'pet' (verb rather than noun).

If not used or meant affectionately, it can also be condescending or teasing but you'd have to know the person pretty well, or set out to offend someone by insinuating, say, they deserve a pat for an achievement they previously bragged about.</p>

kleios_kiss

January 28 2014, 23:18:33 UTC 11 months ago

Very cool, thanks guys! Is "pet" ever used in Australia then, like "I pet my dog," or would it always be "I pat my dog?"

lilacsigil

January 29 2014, 00:44:31 UTC 11 months ago

It would always be "pat". "I am patting my cat." "I patted my cat."

kleios_kiss

11 months ago

lilacsigil

11 months ago

kleios_kiss

11 months ago

mspixieears

February 2 2014, 13:59:55 UTC 10 months ago

Don't think so - though it's often heard in American media (books, TV, songs etc.). I can just imagine the evil looks my cat would shoot me if anyone tried to 'pat' him.

But there is the (somewhat old-fashioned and euphemistic!) term 'heavy petting' - wonder if that's from British or American English?

A larger animal, like a cow or a horse, I would be more likely to 'pat' but that's because they're traditionally associated with agriculture; they're not pets per se. and they're bloody massive, haha.

ticktockman

January 29 2014, 00:37:42 UTC 11 months ago

I'm in the U.S. and the usage of "pat" did not read at all awkward or unusual to me. There is a rather well-known book for very young children titled Pat the Bunny which is definitely about petting a simulated rabbit (rather than a rabbit named Patrick or Patricia and shortened to Pat).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_the_Bunny

kleios_kiss

January 29 2014, 04:16:07 UTC 11 months ago

Really? Where in the U.S. are you from? I'm from NYC, never heard of "pat" in that context before.

ticktockman

11 months ago

kleios_kiss

11 months ago

shanrina

10 months ago

iddewes

January 29 2014, 07:50:19 UTC 11 months ago Edited:  January 29 2014, 07:53:49 UTC

I am a mostly British English speaker who has spent time in Canada, pat doesn't sound strange to me, though I would normally say 'stroke' the koala. I'm not sure if I've just read 'pat' or I've heard it from Antipodeans in London. ;)
And poor koalas! But there are some crazy tourists about. I had an acquaintance who worked at the British Museum and she said that when they had the Chinese terracotta warriors there in a special exhibition there were some people who pretended to be terminally ill to try and get in (as the exhibition was sold out).

flying_pig7

January 29 2014, 11:22:36 UTC 11 months ago

As a British English speaker, I would definitely "pat" animals, and I wouldn't "pet" them. I only use "pet" as a noun (as in, an animal that lives in your house). But I would normally say "stroke" too. I think "pat" is maybe used more with children? (In the UK anyway...)

helva2260

January 29 2014, 15:15:49 UTC 11 months ago

Fellow Brit Eng speaker here, and I would both "pat" and "pet" animals, but it would depend on circumstance and the animal itself.

I've always understood there to be a slight difference in word meaning, so I would probably be more likely to pat something like a dog or a horse (or a child!), as it can be quite a vigorous action (a gentle, rhythmic slap/clap against the body/flat of the head intended to be reassuring or steadying). A cat or a rabbit though, I'd be more likely to lay off on the patting as it might scare them or intimidate them, and pet them instead (petting in the sense of stroking/caressing). But then I'm old enough to remember the posters you used to get at swimming pools reading "No running, no diving, no bombing, no heavy petting, [...etc.]".

mspixieears

February 2 2014, 13:51:15 UTC 10 months ago

Likewise - stroke is more what I'd use.

kleios_kiss

January 29 2014, 15:35:45 UTC 11 months ago

Omg someone would actually fake being terminally ill to see terracotta warriors? That seems a bit extreme, they aren't even adorable and snuggly looking like koalas. My boyfriend, upon seeing this koala article, said "at least some people know what's worth fighting for." He was also in China when some person sneaked into a panda's exhibit at the zoo to try to give the panda a hug. Tourists!

muckefuck

January 29 2014, 17:38:28 UTC 11 months ago

In Soul Mountain (灵山), Gao Xinggan relates the story of a photographer who got too close to a panda at a reserve in Sichuan. It ripped his genitals off. As the reserve is quite remote, he had to be airlifted by helicopter to a hospital for emergency surgery.

That's the story that always comes to mind when people talk about how "cuddly" pandas are.

kleios_kiss

10 months ago

ubykhlives

10 months ago

laudre

January 29 2014, 12:42:38 UTC 11 months ago

L1 North American English speaker, with mix of several regional and local dialects forming my idiolect.

I generally use the verb "pet" in reference to stroking an animal, but I don't find it odd when I hear "pat" used in reference to the same action. That said, for my own use, I tend to associate "pat" with a light tap or two as a gesture of affection (e.g. patting one's romantic/sexual partner on the butt, patting a friend on the shoulder), rather than the stroking or light scratching typical for tactile interaction with animals. (I also use the slang verb "skritch," or the noun form "skritches," in reference to the same thing.)

biascut

January 29 2014, 13:07:15 UTC 11 months ago

To be fair, if I was going to pat a koala, I'd want a knife with me too. They can be vicious little buggers, can't they?

kleios_kiss

January 29 2014, 15:39:41 UTC 11 months ago

I believe that there's one zoo in Australia where you're allowed to hug the koalas. Though I have heard that they can be vicious. Why do they have to be so adorable?

ubykhlives

10 months ago

thekumquat

January 29 2014, 13:08:48 UTC 11 months ago

Pat would be normal to me (London British English) - 'petting' is much more intimately fondling an animal/person than patting which is simply moving your hand up and down in roughly the same place.

I believe the song "the farmer's in his den/the dell" is known in America with the same "we all pat the dog" ending.

I don't know about Australian English, but when my dad went to Australia and got to see koalas, the tourists were warned that only patting the koalas was allowed, on their backs only. Any more intimate touching, particularly getting your hand in front of them where it could be in the way of their eatng, was not permitted - apparently as they need to eat eucalyptus virtually all the time they are awake so as not to starve, you really mustnt interfere with that as they will nip nastily. Which suggests even if the word 'pet' is known, they really do mean 'patting' only.

teaoli

January 29 2014, 16:46:25 UTC 11 months ago

I believe the song "the farmer's in his den/the dell" is known in America with the same "we all pat the dog" ending.

I've never heard this version of the song! For me, it always started with "The farmer in the dell" and ended with "the cheese stands alone".

biascut

10 months ago

teaoli

10 months ago

teaoli

January 29 2014, 17:20:43 UTC 11 months ago

So, I've looked it up, and according to the Wikipedia article, the "pat the dog" ending is a UK variant, although the apparently non-UK version listed there is also different to the one I know.

limonatafic

January 29 2014, 16:19:59 UTC 11 months ago

Native Australian/emigrant Canadian here. I generally agree with others have posted. I would pat the koala (well, if I were going to do anything beyond holding it, which I have done). I would not pet the koala, and not stroke the koala which to me suggests action over a longer area and of a more... soothing kind, perhaps; patting as an up-and-down motion as against stroking along a dog's back or a child's hair etc. Anecdotally, around second grade in Canada my teacher was writing the usual SVO sentences on the board, and I was in the habit of proofreading for them, writing on boards being the hazard it is, so rather than accepting it unquestioningly I first interpreted "pet" as a misspelling for "pat". The sentence was probably something like "I pat my dog". I don't use "pet" much, if ever that I can think of, but if it were to take any place in my vocabulary it might be as a past tense for "pat" rather than "patted", come to think of it. Hmm. Would it seem most normal to me as "we pet the dog half an hour ago"? Perhaps. Not sure!

maju01

January 29 2014, 17:40:36 UTC 11 months ago

I'm an Australian immigrant in the DC area; to me "pat" is common usage back home and implies a light tapping motion with the flat of the hand, whereas to "pet" something implies more of a stroking motion.

teaoli

January 29 2014, 21:02:41 UTC 11 months ago

North Eastern United States, here. You and many other linguipiles have described "patting" in the exact same way that I would describe it – a light tapping motion with the flat of the hand – and yet it isn't something that I would do to an animal.

Could the different be less our definitions and more how we greet animals? I don't think I've patted (according to that definition) an animal since I met my family got a new puppy when I was two or three years old. The first day, some adult in the family corrected my hand motions, showing me how to pet instead of pat.

maju01

January 29 2014, 22:08:16 UTC 10 months ago

I don't think I'd pat an animal either, really, but using the word pat is still the accepted way to talk about touching an animal in Australia. I'd be more likely to talk about patting something into place, such as soil around a newly planted plant, I think.

dalaruan

January 31 2014, 16:19:45 UTC 10 months ago Edited:  January 31 2014, 16:20:38 UTC

Funny thing is, here in Germany "patten" (with an "a" like the "a" in the word "lark", sorry I'm not used to phonetic transcription) is a colloquial term for tapping tenderly on the head of an animal: "Ich patte den Kopf des Hundes" :)