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.


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