Each week here at the Australian Writers’ Centre, we dissect and discuss, contort and retort, ask and gasp at the English language and all its rules, regulations and ridiculousness. It’s a celebration of language, masquerading as a passive-aggressive whinge about words and weirdness. This week, it’s time for breakfast…
Q: Hi there, quick question.
A: What’s on your mind?
Q: The name for the shortened form of “breakfast” – how do you spell it? I have two friends who each spell it differently.
A: Hang on, that doesn’t sound right. You have TWO friends?
Q: Okay fine, you got me. It’s just one friend who uses both equally.
A: That sounds more like it. So, what are our options?
Q: It’s a choice between “breaky” and “brekky”. Although, I’ve also seen “brekkie” and even “breakie”. Please PLEASE tell me there is an official word on this! I’m going crazy!
A: Cough cough #fwp cough…
Q: Excuse me?
Q: Did you just hashtag-hiccough saying that I have first world problems?
A: No idea what you’re talking about. So, moving on. Which one should it be? Well, there’s no ONE suggested word, but there seems to be two. Macquarie and Oxford Dictionary list “brekky” and “brekkie” as the officially recognised forms.
Q: So no “breaky”?
A: Nope. After all, “breakfast” is the only word that makes that particular sound on a combination of “-eak”.
Q: True, I guess it should read like “brake fast” – something I do at speed cameras…
A: So naturally when you try to shorten it and keep the “break” part, most people tend to read it like a Billy Ray Cyrus song.
Q: Achy Breaky Heart? Oh yeah, look at that. The man who’s 50% responsible for giving the world Miley.
A: So, that leads us to “brekky” or “brekkie”. And while we’re partial to the first one (it’s shorter and less fussy), either of these is fine. Two of Australia’s largest fast food chains have breakfast menus, and one offers a “brekkie wrap” and the other a “brekky wrap”.
Q: But not after 10.30am.
A: Actually, some offer breakfast all day now. But we digress.
Q: Well, that’s that then. Got any other breakfast facts?
A: Ummm, well it can be either a noun or a verb. “I’m having breakfast” or “I will breakfast with you before riding to my certain death”.
Q: Bit macabre there.
Q: What about the word origins?
A: Well, it’s fairly obvious – the meal that “breaks” your “fast”.
Q: I guess we’re lucky it wasn’t called “stopstarve” really…
A: Indeed. The word “breakfast” has been kicking about since the first dictionaries were printed – the 15th century, and the meal itself for much longer. Old English also had the word “morgenmete” to mean morning meat for breakfast. Do you want to know a super fun fact?
Q: Of course I do.
A: The word “dinner” actually comes from the much older old French word “disner” – which in turn actually means “breakfast”! Strange, right?
Q: They certainly made a meal out of the whole naming thing.
Q: And the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s? I always assumed it was a cafe, but then I saw the film.
A: Yes, Tiffany’s is a famous jewellery store, and Audrey Hepburn’s character would munch on breakfast as she gazed in the windows. First minute of the film.
Q: And the The Breakfast Club?
A: That’s the nickname given to their detention group. Although the film maker very nearly called it The Lunch Bunch!
Q: Glad he didn’t. What about the word “brunch”? Is that a recent thing?
A: This portmanteau word (breakfast + lunch) is maybe older than you think – first appearing in the 1890s. Although the awkward “meal between meals” had clearly been perplexing hungry 19th century folk far earlier than this.
Q: Thanks for that. So, what about morning tea?
A: Well, the concept of mornin–
Q: No, I mean I’ve had enough of this. I skipped brekky. Let’s go get a cronut…
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