Jul 22, 2014

Premier Colin Barnett has described the WA electorate as ‘grumpy’  for a range of reasons. This has generated a certain amount of research into the word in that state – people want to be clear what constitutes grumpiness in political terms.

The word is onomatopoeic, and is linked with grunt, the noise that elderly gentlemen make when they are asked what they think is a stupid question, and the dialect word grumph which in Scottish and northern dialects is the sound that an irritated pig makes.  It is surprising how often the word is associated with elderly men as in the film Grumpy Old Men. Its meaning ranges from a state of feeling below par, of being out of sorts, to an active surliness and ill-temper.

Grumpiness tends to be a chronic state although a fit of the grumps is an isolated bout of sulkiness. It is often used in a patronising way as a description of another person, as if to a sulky child, so I don’t imagine that the Premier has won any brownie points for labelling his electorate in this way.  To be told not be so grumpy tends to make elderly gentlemen even more irritated and I suspect that voters react in the same way.

(Image courtesy of muppet.wikia.com)

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