The story of ‘Anzac’

by Bruce Moore

What's their Story? gives a detailed account of many of the iconic words in Australian English.

What’s their Story? gives a detailed account of many of the iconic words in Australian English.

Bruce Moore is a former director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, who is currently editing the second edition of the Australian National Dictionary. The following is an extract from his book What’s their Story? A History of Australian Words (published by Oxford University Press Australia, 2010).

Anzac is a central word in the expression of Australian attitudes and values, and it carries its history more overtly than any other Australian word. It had humble beginnings: it is an acronym formed from the initial letters of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, originally used as a telegraphic code name for the Corps when it was in Egypt in 1915, just prior to the landing at Gallipoli. It first appears in writing in the Australian war historian C.E.W. Bean’s Diary on 25 April 1915: ‘Col. Knox to Anzac. “Ammunition required at once.”’1 Two weeks later Bean writes: ‘Anzac has become the sort of code word for the Army Corps’ (6 May).2 It was eventually to become ‘a sort of code word’ for Australia and its beliefs and values. Continue reading

Biscuits in Australian English

A tin of assorted Arnotts biscuits.

 

by Mark Gwynn

A ‘biscuit’ in Australian English is a small cake that is typically crisp and flat. Biscuits can be either sweet (these are known as ‘cookies’ in North America) or savoury. In Australia there are a number of significant biscuits that have made their way into the lexicon, and several form the basis of Australian English idioms. Some of the best-known biscuits and biscuit-related terms are discussed below.

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Mem Fox and thirty years of Possum Magic

by Julia Robinson

Mem Fox. Image source: www.memfox.net

This week we celebrate the birthday of Mem Fox (born 5 March 1946), Australian writer of children’s books. She is the author of such favourite picture books as Koala Lou, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, and Wombat Divine, but the book that made her a household name is her first book, Possum Magic, the runaway bestseller that has sold several million copies since it was published in 1983. It is the tale of possums Hush and Grandma Poss, who leave their bush home to find a cure for Hush’s magic invisibility. Continue reading

Lords and lamingtons

by Julia Robinson

This week marks the birthday of the second Baron Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Baron Lamington – full name Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Baillie – may have been the inspiration for the lamington, a small cake dipped in chocolate icing, rolled in coconut, and considered as Australian as the Anzac biscuit or the iced vovo.

The first mention of lamington appears in print in 1901 in the Brisbane Queenslander a few days before Lord and Lady Lamington left Government House at the end of their antipodean posting. The editor of the ‘Women’s Club’ column replies to a correspondent: ‘Native Born.—Have not heard of a recipe for  “Lamington cake”. Can you give some clue to the appearance and ingredients of the cake?’ (14 December 1901) Continue reading

The one day of the year

Procession of the 41st Battalion through Brisbane on Anzac Day, 1916. Image source: State Library of Queensland.

by Mark Gwynn

Not forgotten nor forsaken
Are the lads no longer here, I shall call — and you will waken
On this one day of the year.
   Argus (Melbourne) 29 April 1916

The one day of the year in Australia is Anzac Day, April 25, a national public holiday commemorating all those who have served and died in war. April 25 is the anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops in 1915. It was the start of a gruelling eight-month long campaign by allied forces during the First World War to capture the Turkish peninsula.

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