Word of the Year 2019

Each year the Australian National Dictionary Centre chooses a Word of the Year from a shortlist of terms that have become prominent in the national conversation in the past 12 months. These words and expressions reflect some of the events and issues that have generated debate in 2019. We are especially interested in Australian terms, or words with Australian meanings. This year’s pick is a familiar word with a new, Australian, meaning.

The Australian National Dictionary’s Word of the Year is:

voice ‘a formal channel for Indigenous input into the making of laws and policies affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’

Voice increased greatly in usage this year, as the idea of an Indigenous voice became prominent in public discussion.

Ken Wyatt and members of the Voice Co-design Senior Advisory Group. Source: indigenous.com.au

We find early evidence of voice in a 2015 speech by Noel Pearson, who spoke of the need for a First Nations ‘voice to parliament and voice to government’. In 2017 the term ‘voice to parliament’ came to national attention following the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It called for a ‘First Nations Voice’ to be enshrined in the Australian constitution, sparking debate over the form it might take. However, the Turnbull government rejected the idea of constitutional change.

Continue reading

The Honey Badger speaks Strine

by Mark Gwynn

Several years ago my colleague wrote a light-hearted blog judging the Australianness of the language of Nick Cummins, aka the Honey Badger. The rugby union player and former Wallaby had become well-known for his use of quirky idioms, rhyming slang, and the Australian vernacular. Suffice to say the Badger’s colloquial language contained a significant proportion of distinctive Australian terms. Now that he is starring in this year’s The Bachelor Australia, it’s time to revisit the Honey Badger for a look at his recent use of language.

Continue reading

Pash and dash to the white rose: Words from The Bachelor Australia, Season 3

bachelor

Richie Strahan and The Bachelor contestants

 

by Amanda Laugesen

Reality television is a regular contributor to our lexicon, and the most recent series of Australia’s favourite dating show, The Bachelor, was no exception. The Bachelor sees a number of women compete for the heart of an eligible bachelor through a series of ‘single’ and ‘group’ dates. At the end of each show, after a cocktail party, the Bachelor hands out red roses to all the women he wants to remain on the show. Continue reading

Footwear in Australian English

Oz shoe

by Mark Gwynn

There are a number of terms in Australian English related to footwear. Several of these are associated with footwear worn originally by workers in rural areas of Australia, where sturdy boots were necessary in industries such as farming and droving, and for working in rugged outback terrain. Our beach culture too has generated terms for boots and shoes. A number of Australianisms related to footwear are discussed below. Continue reading

Kingswood country (Word of the Month for October 2014)

by the ANDC team

The Oxford Word of the Month is written by members of the Australian National Dictionary Centre and published each month by Oxford University Press Australia. Each Word of the Month looks at an Australian word or term in some detail, providing a history of the term and its role in current Australian society. If you wish to receive Word of the Month by email you can subscribe at the Oxford University Press Australia website.

Our Word of the Month for October is Kingswood country: Australian, especially working-class, suburbia; conservative suburban values. The term derives from the television show Kingswood Country which aired in Australia from 1980 to 1984. You can read the full Word of the Month in PDF form on our website or read it in an online format.

Lathering up with bush soap

by Julia Robinson

In a recent ‘Words from our Word Box’ update, we included the term bush soap, and explained it as: ‘The leaves of any of several Australian plants that may be used as a soap substitute. When rubbed vigorously with water, the leaves produce a soap-like lather, thanks to the chemical compounds (saponins) they contain.’ We noted that the earliest evidence in print for this meaning of bush soap occurs in the early 1990s. Continue reading

The language of LOLspeak: oh hai kittehs!

by Jennifer Oxley*

LOLcatsLOLspeak (where LOL is an acronym for laugh out loud) is a variety of English that can be described as the human interpretation of how cats might speak English if they could. It is a playful interpretation that includes things like deliberate grammatical mistakes, misspellings, and baby talk. LOLspeak is primarily used in a satirical or humorous manner on pictures of cats that are posted on the internet. These pictures, with either LOLspeak or Standard English captions added to them, are known as LOLcats, a popular internet meme. An example of LOLspeak used on a LOLcat image can be seen here in the picture of the kitten and the coin. Continue reading

Words from our Word Box: update 6

by the ANDC team

wordbox image

Click on the logo to go to the Word Box page

This is our first update for 2014 on contributions to our Word Box, the website feature you can use to alert us to new or unfamiliar words and phrases. These contributions allow our editors to identify new material for our general Australian Oxford dictionaries and also for our archive of Australian words. We like to share our recent findings with you through regular updates. We thank everyone for their submissions and encourage you to contribute—just click on the Word Box image to the left to post your word. A few of the more interesting contributions from the last three months are discussed below; some are new to us, and some we already know. We welcome any comments about your understanding or experience of these words.

Continue reading

Ye olde counter lunch

Great Central Hotel c. 1910, Glen Innes NSW

 by Mark Gwynn

In Australian English a counter lunch is a midday meal served in the bar of a hotel or public house; the term derives from the counter at which the meals were originally served. Its purpose is to entice customers to patronise the bar by offering cheap food.

Continue reading

The Language of Tumblr

by Jennifer Oxley*

In a recent linguistics course I wrote about Tumblr Speak, a variety of English that is spoken on Tumblr. Tumblr is a free online blogging website that allows users to share images and videos and to communicate with other Tumblr users via posts. Each post consists of a combination of three features: a graphic, post text, and tag, with some posts containing only one or two of these things. The following is an example of a Tumblr post containing all three:

Continue reading