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Why 'Matilda'?

MGM·Lion 26 Mar 12 - 12:14 AM
Gurney 26 Mar 12 - 03:54 AM
Nigel Parsons 26 Mar 12 - 05:17 AM
Geoff the Duck 26 Mar 12 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,olddude 26 Mar 12 - 09:47 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Mar 12 - 09:57 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Mar 12 - 04:49 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Mar 12 - 05:10 PM
Bob Bolton 26 Mar 12 - 05:19 PM
GUEST,good info 26 Mar 12 - 05:23 PM
Bob Bolton 26 Mar 12 - 05:51 PM
Mark Ross 26 Mar 12 - 06:11 PM
Bob Bolton 26 Mar 12 - 09:38 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Mar 12 - 11:49 PM
GUEST,Bazzer Billabong 27 Mar 12 - 02:50 AM
Sandra in Sydney 27 Mar 12 - 05:04 AM
RoyH (Burl) 27 Mar 12 - 08:19 AM
RoyH (Burl) 27 Mar 12 - 08:21 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Mar 12 - 02:17 PM
PHJim 27 Mar 12 - 03:54 PM
Snuffy 28 Mar 12 - 07:14 AM
kendall 28 Mar 12 - 07:39 AM
EBarnacle 28 Mar 12 - 11:16 PM
Gurney 29 Mar 12 - 10:07 PM
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Subject: Why 'Matilda'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 12:14 AM

A search naturally produces lots of threads on Waltzing Matilda. But none seems AFAICS to have dealt with the question of WHY that particular female name, Matilda, for a rover's ("swagman's") bag or kit or rolled up bundle of belongings (his "swag")? Suggestions have been made regarding relationship to the term 'housewife' for a soldier's roll of sewing-kit; and to the fact that in some idioms 'Matilda' was used as a generic name for a camp-follower ; but these explanations merely beg the question, or move it back one stage. No effort have I found to explain precisely WHY that particular name, rather than Bertha or Judith or Valerie or Emma [these being FWIW the names of my mother, my sister and my two wives ~ substitute any woman's name, according to own associations or taste!].

(The name Bertha reminds me of another generic name, but one for which we do have an explanation ~~ the German WW1 gun colloquially known as the Big Bertha, which was named for the wife of the weapon-maker Friedrich Krupp; but we do not seem to have any such associative explanation for Matilda.)

So, again: ~~ Why "Matilda" particularly?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Gurney
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 03:54 AM

Can't answer the Matilda question, Michael, but as for Bertha, there were at least three 'Big' ones, the gun you mention, an English traction engine, and an American steam organ. To the anglophone, big and Bertha seem automatically linked.

I had a customer, a German lady who was named Bertha, who pronounced her name Bee-ar-ta (last 'A' almost a click) rather than the English style Ber-tha.
She wasn't big, either. Very trim.


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 05:17 AM

I had a customer, a German lady who was named Bertha, who pronounced her name Bee-ar-ta
Wasn't she in The Golden Girls ?


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 09:17 AM

Acorn Antiques, surely, Nigel!
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: GUEST,olddude
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 09:47 AM

I think it is because Samantha is too hard to rhyme


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 09:57 AM

Ah, but "Matilda", IIRC, nowhere appears in the song as the rhyming word...


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 04:49 PM

"Matilda" is the swagman's bag, carried on his back. Since Banjo Patterson is long gone, we can't ask him why he selected that name.

Maybe because it has three good, strong syllables. 'Matilda' used that way in the Caribbean song (Matilda, Matilda, she take me money and run Venezuela...)


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 05:10 PM

But Patterson didn't invent the term 'Matilda' for the swagman's pack; he just used the standard appellation, surely?


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 05:19 PM

G'day MtheGM,

Paterson picked up the phrase "Waltzing Matilda" in the eastern end of Queensland ... where quite a high German presence built up as various Germanic groups fled the "unification" (aka 'conquest') by Bismarck in the late 19th century.

This was a term used for centuries back by German soldiers ... for their improvised field bedding of greatcoat and whatever else kept them warm. The name is a variant of (~) mechthilde ... roughly "mighty maided", a synonym for various warrior godesses ... or other soldiers' fancied personages.

The term also is firmly in the argot of the German 'journeyman' ... the tradesman required to travel ... at least (?) 50 kilometres away from the town in which he was apprenticed - working day work (hence journeyman ... from the French for day ... not from 'day trip' ...). These learner tradesmen carry their clothing and tools in a toolbag called their (~) Mathilde ... still, in this 21st century.

The Australian swagmen would have included many of Germanic origin ... and the term became well embedded by the end of the 19th century. 'Dutchy' Hoffmeier (~ ?) was the striking shearer whose death ... in dubious circumstances ... in the environs of a billabong (anabranch ... "dead water" ... extra channel in a creek) ... may have underlain Paterson's composition of what is much more than an innocent rural jingle!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: GUEST,good info
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 05:23 PM

I always wondered myself. Have you folks heard Kendall sing the band played waltzing matilda ... Holy cow is that good


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 05:51 PM

G'day again,

By the way, I see that Dennis O'Keefe ... who became very much involved with research into the circumstances and background to the composition of Waltzing Malilda ... has just published a new book on the matter. Check out at "http://www.waltzingmatilda.net.au/".

Dennis worked with an earlier researcher ... who backed away from the topic when he started to find quite a twisted tale of Paterson's 'love life' ... and a consequent falling out with the McPherson family (well-off graziers in Queensland).

Reading the book is probably the only way of comprehending the whole sordid mess ... overlaid on the Workers / Employers tensions of the great Shearers' Strike of 1891 / Paterson's relations with his women / possible police involvement in the death of a striker / MacPherson's involvement as local 'magistrate' ... into matters on his own property ... the whole 'Matilda Mess'!

Regard(les0s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 06:11 PM

Bob, thanks for the info.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 09:38 PM

G'day again,

I notice that the link I posted above is to an earlier work by Dennis O'Keefe ... this is to one to the latest work: Waltzing Matilda - The Secret History of Australia's Favourite Song:

http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=511&book=9781742377063

This has been an interesting journey ... from before the Australian Bi-Centenary (1988) when our ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) asked if I could recommend someone to arrange the oldest known manuscript (Christina MacPherson holograph) version of the song. I found one of our Bush Music Club stalwarts who did that for the ABC ... and about that time, Dennis was just moving away from working with earlier researcher Richard Magoffin - who wasn't happy about the way "our" song was proving to have a much deeper and darker past!

Who said folk songs were just old boring ditties ... ?

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 11:49 PM

Thank you, Bob ~~ there is a thoroughly scholarly and satisfactory explanation as ever was!

Good Info _ yes I have. Fine indeed. Have you heard me sing it? On my youtube channel

http://www.youtube.com/user/mgmyer


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: GUEST,Bazzer Billabong
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 02:50 AM

Why Why Why Matilda ??????????

Waltzing Delilah ????????????????


nah mate, let's stick with what we know.


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 05:04 AM

If you want to hear Dennis talking about his book, he was one of 3 guests on this radio program last night.

I was going to ask him to reply to this thread!

sandra


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 08:19 AM

Good to hear from you again Bob. It's been far too long. Burl.


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 08:21 AM

Oh, and MtheGM,Damn good question.Burl.


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 02:17 PM

Thanks, Bob. Now that you have posted, I now
seem to remember that you provided that information in a post some years back.
Short memory here.


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: PHJim
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 03:54 PM

Now, anybody know why Sheilagh?


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Snuffy
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 07:14 AM

You'd have to ask Bruce about that.


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: kendall
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 07:39 AM

Q is right.


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 11:16 PM

Because Heilagh didn't work, perhaps?


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Subject: RE: Why 'Matilda'?
From: Gurney
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 10:07 PM

Why not? You breed Blue Heilaghs there, don't you? They work.


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