Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Updated Australian National Dictionary Is Here to Teach You ‘Dinkum’ Aussie English

From my latest post for Global Voices: The Updated Australian National Dictionary Is Here to Teach You ‘Dinkum’ Aussie English

Australian National Dictionary 2nd Edition Australian National Dictionary 2nd Edition.

When I was a teacher, an unfamiliar student approached me in the schoolyard during play lunch, or the mid-morning break. "Is it true you read the dictionary for fun?" he enquired. His response to my positive answer was, "You're a sick man!" You've been warned.

Over the years, Global Voices editors and translators have wondered about some of the words in my posts. For those struggling with or just interested in 'Australianisms', the updated Australian National Dictionary may be a timely addition to your library.

To most English-speaking people, Australian English, otherwise known as Strine, must seem like a foreign language. Take the sentence below:
Any true blue, dinkum Aussie battler from Astraya's Deep North knows that Canberrans are really Mexicans.
Any genuine Australian from Northern Queensland knows that residents of Canberra, the national capital, are from south of the border (and hence inferior).
Interstate or regional rivalry down under is present in a lot of Australian English terms (both geographical references in the sentence above carry derogatory connotations). For example, Taswegians, who are from the southern island state of Tasmania, are proud of their contributions to the Australian National Dictionary, and as such their bragging might qualify them as a 'yaffler', or a loudmouth.

Taswegians view the rest of Australia as 'mainlanders':
Two new additions to the dictionary are related to Australia's capital, Canberra: 'Canberran' is a person from Canberra, and 'Canberra bashing' is somewhat of a national political pastime. The local chief minister had a message to the online oligarchs to fix their spellcheckers:
Another Canberra politician, member of the House of Representatives Andrew Leigh, helped launch the second edition of the dictionary, 28 years after the first. In his remarks, he highlighted some of the phrases that made it into the publication:
  • 'callithumpian' (a lack of adherence to any religion)
  • 'rurosexual' (a fashionable young man living in a country area)
  • 'sea changer' (a change of lifestyle, especially moving from the city to a seaside town)
  • 'doesn't know whether he's Arthur or Martha' (to be in a state of confusion)
  • 'your blood's worth bottling' (you are of exceptional value)
  • 'do a Bradbury' (to become the unlikely winner)
  • 'carry on like a pork chop' (to behave foolishly, make a fuss)
  • 'happy as a bastard on father’s day' (extremely unhappy)
  • 'straight to the pool room' (expressing the great value of a gift or prize, etc.)
  • 'wouldn't know if a tram was up him unless the conductor rang the bell' (extremely stupid)
He also pointed out some of the Indigenous words that now feature, such as 'gubinge', which is a type of plum, and 'migaloo', meaning a white person.

'Migaloo' is only one of over 500 words from 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, as Australian National Dictionary editor Bruce Moore explained on news and analysis site The Conversation in a post titled 'Do you know a Bunji from a Boorie? Meet our dictionary’s new Indigenous words'.

While all these entries are touted as 'new', many are only new to the dictionary. During the 1960s, for example, my father claimed that he always wrote 'callithumpian' as his religion on the Census form.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mariam Veiszadeh: Shedding Light and Hope on Islamophobia in Australia

'Islamophobia in Australia', Mariam Veiszadeh's address to the Castan Centre's Human Rights Law conference on 22 July 2016, had a heightened sense of urgency given the international situation. She is the founder and President of the Islamophobia Register Australia which "seeks to provide a means for incidents of Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim sentiments to be reported, recorded and analysed".

This video contains her presentation and the question session that followed:

Mariam's speech was blunt, personal yet conciliatory:

My relationship with islamophobia over the years has taken many forms – from being an advocate against it, to becoming a victim of it and everything in between.

...My message is for the backyard bigots and the backyard sheikhs and everyone in between.

...The utter irony is that all of the parties involved on each end of the extreme spectrum cling on to the false hope that their words and actions are actually tackling and thereby reducing endemic and institutionalised Islamophobia and global injustices (in the case of the young disillusioned souls, falling prey to radicalisation) or in turn, reducing and countering radicalisation, terrorism and/or the perceived Muslim threats (in the case of the islamophobes - both at an individual and institutional level).

...Put simply, there are far too many disaffected and disillusioned people amongst us on both ends of the spectrum.

We need to work together to bring them into the fold. Both the ones on this end of the extreme spectrum and the ones on the other end of the spectrum.

Nevertheless, Mariam did not shy away from the horrific consequences of what she calls normalisation of islamophobia:

Of particular concern is the fact that our data contains in it an alarming number of incidents in which mothers are harassed in the presence of young children.

Mariam discussed the impact of Pauline Hanson's One Nation party with her anti-Muslim policies, and the rise of Donald Trump's islamophobia.

She also tackled growing of dehumanisation in Australian society:

When you oppress me by sending me threats of death, violence and rape, simply because I speak out about the islamophobia that my community and I are facing, a process of dehumanisaton is taking place.

However, Mariam finished on a positive note:

Let the reasonable voices unite and let us expend our energies into trying to inject love and compassion into a world that is being increasingly filled with destruction and despair for the forces binding us together are stronger than the forces pulling us apart.

And when we lose hope, as I sometimes do, let us look down at the face of our future generations, reflect on their futures, reflect on our hopes and dreams, and pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and light that damn candle again, for darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.

The transcript of her speech can be accessed here. In addition there is an video interview with Mariam:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Calls to Stop Imminent Round of Executions in Indonesia

Julian McMahon, one of the lawyers for the Bali Nine drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who were executed in 2015, warned last week that more executions were imminent in Indonesia. His address to the Castan Centre's Human Right Law conference in Melbourne last week about recent developments regarding capital punishment in Indonesia and the Philippines was timely indeed.

Indonesia is apparently to go ahead with a new round of executions in coming days. Many of the prisoners have been convicted of drug offences.

McMahon spoke of the "logic of executions in our region" being "political gain".

He argued that, "the death penalty is part of a growing zeitgeist [mood]... a desire to be seen as tough and merciless."

"The whole debate is purely political..." with "Indonesia working in countries around the world to save its citizens on death row... with no other country as successful, as determined or hardworking in saving its own citizens". He pointed out that the Indonesian government claims that in the last 5 years 285 have been saved, including drug offenders.

He argued that the situation in Indonesia must be seen through the "prism of domestic politics with drugs used to distract from other problems".

He hoped that we can "move on the debate" by "assisting Indonesia as much as possible in fighting these drug problems".

The full audio of his presentation can be heard here.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has voiced its strong opposition:

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of Indonesia should urgently commute the death sentences of at least 14 people who face imminent execution for drug trafficking...[He] should acknowledge the death penalty’s barbarity and avoid a potential diplomatic firestorm by sparing the lives of the 14 or more people facing imminent execution...

Amnesty International has joined the call to abandon the executions:

Indonesian President Joko Widodo... will be putting his government on the wrong side of history if he proceeds with a fresh round of executions... President Widodo’s era was supposed to represent a new start for human rights in Indonesia. Sadly, he could preside over the highest number of executions in the country’s democratic era at a time when most of the world has turned its back on this cruel practice...

You can add your voice by clicking on the link in their tweet:


Indonesia has executed the first four of 14 drug convicts on death row (BBC News)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

World Spotlight on Australia's Cardinal Pell

From my latest post for - World Spotlight on Australia's Cardinal Pell at Rome Child Sexual Abuse Hearing:

It may have been a blessing in disguise that he did not ‘come home’ as musician Tim Minchin demanded because the hearing's set-up focused international attention on the issues raised and the cardinal's role.

...During his presentation, Pell was quite prepared to criticise the Catholic Church's handling of abuse allegations. He blamed the former bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, for repeatedly moving Ridsdale from parish to parish. He also accused former Archbishop of Melbourne Frank Little of covering up serious allegations. However, those looking for personal contrition or a smoking gun implicating him in cover-ups were sorely disappointed and many questioned his evidence.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Comic versus Cardinal: Come Home to the Child Sex Abuse Hearing

From my latest post for @globalvoices: Oz Comedian's Song Challenges Cardinal to ‘Come Home’ for Child Sex Abuse Hearing

The lyrics are deliberately offensive, as is typical of Minchin's in-your-face comedic style.
He calls Pell a “coward”, “scum” and a “pompous buffoon”. In a very provocative red rag finish, he goads the Cardinal to “come home and frickin’ sue me”.
Cardinal Pell has since offered to “meet with and listen to victims and express his ongoing support”.