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Dob, dob, dob

14
Feb
2014
 

By Miranda

The 'dob, dob, dob' chant of all those little Cubs and Scouts was an essential part of many people's childhood (though quite a long time ago now - I think the Scouting movement considers it well and truly passé). The dob in this instance is the perfectly acceptable acronym for Do Your Best, an admirable sentiment.

But to dob in Australia and the UK is to tell on, inform on, rat on, expose, grass up, and/or put the finger on.
It's considered to be culturally unacceptable to dob, and to be called a dobber is definitely insulting.

Then we started chatting about the difference between 'dob on' and 'dob in'. Interestingly, the key to this difference seemed to come down to how old you were... we agreed that in the playground one would either dob on or accuse someone else of dobbing on us to, say, a parent, teacher etc.
But dobbing in seemed to be reserved not only for a more adult context but also for more serious offences.

One might dob on a sibling for eating the last slice of cake (OK, yes, I have siblings and no, there will be no further admissions) or dob on a classmate for some minor infringement of the school rules or get detention as a result of having been dobbed on, but when one dobs someone in, it appears there's something of more consequence involved.

Thus if 'the police' or 'the authorities' are present, you'll almost certainly be dobbing in. Actively.

As, while you dob on someone, you dob someone in. There seems to be a huge weight implied by moving that 'someone' up closer to the 'dob'. For more information on what that grammar is doing, a quick online search revealed that linguists had been there already - no surprise. You may like to look up Understanding Cultures Through Their Key Words, English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese by Anna Wierzbicka; OUP 1997.

So what's the difference between a dobber and a whistle-blower?

1166 Responses to

Dob, dob, dob

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 1:53 PM

This offensive comment has been deleted

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 1:59 PM

Ah, now...maybe some peace will reign over us for a while. :))

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:05 PM

jafa enough god this is a public forum now just stop with this we all have enough worries without you carrying on ..leave anne and fir and sj alone and don't threaten anyone or you will lose me as a friend

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:11 PM

noonee, l love you!! :))

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Thank you, Noonee. :))

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:34 PM

hey anne here to help hope you are ok

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:37 PM

yw fir hope you are ok as well

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:41 PM

I am ok, thanks... and life goes on....

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:41 PM

This is from the ABC news website .... Bowen's Big Mango goes missing it's 10 metres high and weighs 10 tonnes missing from Bowen in QLD!! ... now how on earth would a thing that big go missing?

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Just trying to add a little humour :))

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:46 PM

hahahhahaha... that is so funny... You can't smuggle it under your coat, or hide it in your purse.... hahahahah.... thanks nanna-j, I needed a good laugh. :)))

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:48 PM

... and don't we all

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM

sprinkling fairy dust around the room

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:54 PM

gosh nanna hoe they get a sore back

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:54 PM

muchly needed in here... and on that note, I am off to bed, with a glass of wine... see y'all tomorrow. :))

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:56 PM

... and a good book I hope ... cya fir

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:58 PM

... and yes noonee I hope they do ... still raining there?

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:58 PM

make that hope

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

1157 responses time to change methinks Miranda!!!!

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 3:09 PM

agree there nanna...time to bring it down miranda

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 4:12 PM

I do not think this is Jafa always ... it justs from he jargon ... teenagers maybe when she is working?

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 4:13 PM

*the jargon

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pdiaco said:
February 24, 2014 at 4:38 PM

if you see an unusually large mango at your greengrocer call the police.

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 4:42 PM

5.99 here pd and i will lower case

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said:
February 24, 2014 at 4:43 PM

oopsie Mangoes that is

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said:
February 25, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Just checking...