It all started yesterday when Dr. Krystal (@dr_krystal) tweeted:
Whenever I use the term “early mark” most Melburnians look at me strangely … Anyone know where the phrase came from?
I’m a Melbournian and I was left looking at her strangely too - I’d never heard the phrase and couldn’t figure out what it meant. In short, it’s when you’re given permission to leve school early and, by extension, leave work early. Judging by the last of the tweets below, if you are your own boss you get to give yourself an early mark:
JacquelineMaley Jacqueline Maley
iori_424 Iori Lui
thetone TonyThe ABC have a great little project called the Australian Word Map which they started quite a while ago now. It lists the phrase “early mark” as being used in NSW and parts of SA and QLD, which correlates with Dr. Krystal’s mini Twitter survey giving positive responses for NSW, ACT and NT. James Murphy (@JMM_Melb) said the phrase is also found in New Zealand.
Early mark for coffee today. I heard the inner call at 2.40pm
There is a sister phase “early minute” which, according to both the Word Map and Dr. Krystal is a South Australia thing. Apparently “early minute” is also a variation, but neither Word Map or Dr. Krystal could pin that one down.
For those of us who don’t use the phrase, Laura Holland’s (@Ivalaine) comment rings true:
@dr_krystal well at least “early minute” makes bloody sense. even “early pass” kinda could make sense like a hall pass, but earlymark? bahMy guess is that the mark refers to the teacher marking students off the attendance list, and not a mark as in a grade.
I’ve not yet found “early mark” or its variants in a dictionary other than the Word Map. I’m also not sure what other phrases people might use outside of Australia, or if any of the ones discussed above are used outside of Australia.
And as for me and my schooling in Melbourne? We had no “early mark,” “early pass” or “early minute” - we would just leave early!