The convict origins of ‘public servant’

by Amanda Laugesen

Tasmanian convict Bill Thompson in leg irons and convict uniform, 1870s. Image source: State Library of Tasmania



Following on from Mark Gwynn’s recent blog on pube, this week I will take a look at public servant. When I have talked about my work on Convict Words: the Language of Colonial Australia (OUP, 2002), it has always been a source of some amusement (especially for us Canberrans) that public servant was first used to refer to a convict assigned to public labour or work for the government. It was first recorded in 1797, and by 1812 was being used to refer to a (free) member of the public service (civil service). Continue reading

Print and Australian English

The Fawkner Press - the first newspaper in Melbourne (Melbourne Advertiser) was printed on this press in 1838. Image source: Museum Victoria

by Amanda Laugesen

The Centre’s recent posts on digital tools are exciting ones for me. The tools developed by Tim Sherratt (see also his terrific work on analysing the data of the National Library’s Trove: allow us to extract significant information that can illuminate important questions about the history of Australian English.

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