Kangaroo: the international and regional word

 

kangaroo

George Stubb’s painting ‘Kongouro from New Holland’. The painting was exhibited in 1773 and is the first known depiction of a kangaroo in Western art. It now resides at the National Maritime Museum in London.

 

This week staff at the Australian National Dictionary Centre have collaborated to post a blog on the Oxford Dictionaries blog site. Our topic is the linguistic journey of the word ‘kangaroo’.

Sharks and Australian English

Shark warning sign on Western Australian beach after fatal attack in 2012

by Mark Gwynn

Each year the Australian summer brings news stories of shark sightings close to shore, shark attacks, and the inevitable debate about how to protect beachgoers from such attacks. Australia, as an island continent with the bulk of its population inhabiting the coastal areas, has had a long relationship with sharks. This relationship is reflected in our culture and expressed by a number of terms in Australian English.*

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Australian joeys

by Julia Robinson

'Anzac the kangaroo and Peggy the wombat joeys have become mates at the Wild about Wildlife Kilmore Rescue Centre.' Image source: Rob Leeson / Herald Sun

I confess—this blog is just an excuse to post an irresistible photo of a pair of orphaned joeys. For those readers who are not familiar with the term (or who would like to know a little of its history), joey is well-known in Australian English as the word for a young kangaroo, especially one still in its mother’s pouch. Continue reading

The earliest words in Australian English

by Julia Robinson

Dampier's illustration of a 'guano' (a goanna), in 'A new voyage round the world' (1699).

We posted a blog recently with an interactive graph (devised by Tim Sherratt) showing the first occurrences of Australian words in print, as they appear in the text of the Australian National Dictionary (AND). One blog-reader asked us about the words that predate the First Fleet’s arrival in Botany Bay in 1788. Continue reading