(MENAFN – Khaleej Times)
Posted: Thu Sep 1, 2022 9:20 PM
Over the life of this column, we have repeatedly examined the influence of English on an astonishing variety of other languages, from French to Japanese. Among other English-speaking countries, we explored the impact of America and Ireland. But what of the original British colony, the place where for decades convicted criminals were deported with no hope of return – Australia?
Australians understandably bristled at centuries of British contempt, and Britons, in turn, enjoyed joking about Australians. A favorite subject is their accent, which is quite distinctive. “What is a bison? a short riddle. Before answering that it is a bovine, relative of the buffalo, often featured in stories about the American Wild West, the answer comes: “It’s what an Australian washes his face with.” Indeed, most Australians pronounce “basin” like “bison”, with the sound “ay” commonly rendered by “eye”. Another common joke concerns the tourist injured in a serious accident who wakes up from a coma and asks the Australian nurse melodramatically: “Did I come here to die?” to which she happily replies, “No, you came here yesterday-to die.”
But apart from pronunciations, Australia has a rich variety of distinctive expressions, of which some 7,000 – words and idioms – are currently under consideration for the next edition of the Australian National Dictionary. As a recent and fascinating New York Times article describes, Australian English is full of colorful terms that other varieties of English don’t use. head. An angry friend is said to be “crazy as a severed serpent”. A pug-ugly person could be described as having a “face like a bucket of squashed crabs”. Someone else, maybe someone with a sour, droopy face, might have a “face like a half-sucked mango.” (Another variation: “face like a twisted sand shoe”, assuming you know what a sand shoe is – it’s a lightweight canvas shoe with a rubber sole). All of these reflect the unique culture of a country very different from the “motherland” in which its language was born.
These are delightful idioms, but Australian English also has a number of unique Australian expressions that, while less colorful, are uniquely their country. So hard work, to an Australian, is “yakka hard” in the local language. The country’s criminal history manifests itself in expressions such as “never dob in your mates” (to “never betray your friends by denouncing on them”) or “don’t break the system” (to not cheat or commit fraud). . Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison described his rival (and now successor) Anthony Albanese as a “loose unit”, a uniquely Australian term to describe someone as unreliable, rude, unpredictable (or all three). Another word for a rude person is “bogan”, although a bogan is now considered a genuine Aussie and a “fogan”, or “fake bogan”, is a bigger insult, while finding your “inner bogan” is an honorable goal. The country’s native Aboriginal languages also gave rise to words like ‘boomerang’ and ‘kangaroo’, as well as the lesser-known ‘billabong’ (an Australian name for a stagnant pool or dead-end water channel), dingo” (a local species of wild dog) or “yabby” (a nondescript edible). In turn, immigration to Australia also impacted the language, as new communities of Australians demanded new vocabularies to describe them, such as “ABC” for Chinese Australians.
The Times tells us that the first edition of the Australian National Dictionary – a partnership between the Oxford English Dictionary and the Australian National University – came out in 1988, including only words and phrases originating in Australia, or having greater currency or special meaning. the. The first edition of the dictionary had 10,000 entries. That went to 16,000 in the second, and now they’re working on the third, which will have a lot to add. Could it include “selfie”, which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, first appeared in an online Australian discussion group? A debate rages: given the spread of the term, can it really be considered uniquely Australian? We will have to wait for the new edition of the Dictionary to find out.
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