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Amanda Laugesen

Amanda Laugesen

Amanda Laugesen is a historian and lexicographer. She is currently the director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANU) and Chief Editor of The Australian National Dictionary. Amanda has published widely in areas such as the social and cultural history of war, book history, and the history of Australian English.

'Crisis lexicon' by Amanda Laugesen

March 2020, no. 419 21 February 2020
As I write this, Canberra is once again under threat from the Orroral Valley fire south of the city. This comes after a summer of intense and incredibly destructive bushfires and, for Canberra, endless days of smoke haze, followed by a damaging hailstorm. The coronavirus also dominates the daily newsfeeds as a global health emergency takes hold. Our public language in the last months has been tra ... (read more)

'Whither wowser?' by Amanda Laugesen

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
Lexicographers, especially historical ones, are always interested in the way words fall in and out of fashion. But while we spend a lot of time tracing the first usage of a word and trying to figure out its origins, we pay much less attention to when or why a word falls out of common usage. Why do words cease to be used? For some words, the reason is clear. We no longer listen to gramophones or r ... (read more)

'One’s last gumtree' by Amanda Laugesen

November 2019, no. 416 24 October 2019
Sidney (Sid) J. Baker (1912–76) is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in the history of Australian slang lexicography. Born in New Zealand, Baker worked in Australia as a journalist, writing for publications such as ABC Weekly, The Daily Telegraph, and The Sydney Morning Herald. He was also the author of a number of books about Australian slang, one of which is A Popular Dictionary ... (read more)

'The slow death of Australian slang?' by Amanda Laugesen

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
There was a recent flurry of Australian media interest in the wake of the publication of a new edition of the Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, edited by Tony Thorne. Thorne only added a small number of new Australian slang termsto the new edition: ‘ort’, buttocks; ‘tockley’, penis; and ‘unit’, defined as a bogan. The apparent lack of new Australian slang terms was a cause of some anxi ... (read more)

'Imagining the "super-dictionary"' by Amanda Laugesen

June–July 2014, no. 362 01 June 2014
In a 2011 lecture, David Crystal, a leading authority on the English language, spoke about the possibility of a ‘super-dictionary’ of English – a dictionary that would include every word in global English. Such a dictionary was, he acknowledged, a ‘crazy, stupid idea’, but an idea that seemed somehow possible in the electronic age, where the constraints of print no longer apply. Diction ... (read more)

'Slang and the Australian soldier' by Amanda Laugesen

April 2014, no. 360 27 March 2014
The relationship between the world of soldiers and the world of civilians has long been a topic of interest to historians and other scholars of war. Joan Beaumont’s significant new book Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War (reviewed in ABR, February 2014) emphasises the importance of considering the war front and home front side by side, and argues that it is impossible to understand one ... (read more)
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