Language … Puggy
While language is fluid, augmented by usage – as the last two entries exemplify – it is not always fashionable, or compelling. In Speziali v Nortask Pty Ltd, in the trial of the proceeding on foot in the Supreme Court at Brisbane before Hindman J on 6 March 2023, the following exchange occurred between bench and bar in the opening of the plaintiff’s case:
MR WOODS: Your Honour will hear the plaintiff give evidence regarding his observations of the ground, the concrete at the base of the tower and the conditions of the rungs of the ladder before he climbed up on the first occasion that morning. He will say that south of the structure, the soil was black, that it was very wet, sticky. He will describe it as puggy, p-u-g-g-y, and that was where the crane was positioned. And he – – –
HER HONOUR: Is that an actual word – – –
MR WOODS: Well, it’s a – – –
HER HONOUR: – – – that I should know the meaning of?
MR WOODS: It’s a word that the plaintiff professes is a word and I accept.
HER HONOUR: Do you know what it means?
MR WOODS: It is another way to describe the combination of a sticky, boggy – – –
HER HONOUR: Okay. Okay.
MR WOODS: Not different to – – –
HER HONOUR: That’s what it means, that’s – – –
MR WOODS: – – – the preparation of a banana bread before it, you know, enters the tray, perhaps, as a good example, given that I’ve taken up cooking.
HER HONOUR: Okay
As it transpires, research reveals that two online dictionaries – Collins Dictionary and Dictionary .com – have it that the word “puggy” has New Zealand lexiconic origins, and means “sticky, claylike”. Perhaps the plaintiff in the above case is ahead of all of us.
And I wonder whether counsel brought his banana bread to the case morning teas during the trial.