Oxford University Press

The appearance of a new dictionary is always exciting, and the publication of the second edition of the Australian National Dictionary is certainly cause for celebration ...

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Words and their meanings, more than any other aspects of language, hold a special fascination for people. Perhaps it is because, unlike these other features (which are set down during childhood), they continue to be acquired throughout one's lifetime. Words and their meanings are also intimately tied to the life and culture of speakers, and all sorts of perspectives ...

The Great War produced its own idiom and slang. Many of the new words and phrases created during the long conflict, such as ‘tank’ and ‘barrage’, became part of standard English, although often with a different nuance of meaning.

The recording of Australian soldier slang was seen as important at the end of the war. It was recognised as being integral to the unique character of the Australian soldier and linked to the official war historian C.E.W. Bean’s characterisation of the Australian soldier as the bronzed bushman and an outstanding fighter with a disdain for authority. In 1919, W.H. Downing published Digger Dialects; he described the slang he had collected as ‘a by-product of the collective imagination of the A.I.F.’. In the early 1920s, A.G. Pretty, chief librarian at the Australian War Museum, later the Australian War Memorial, compiled a ‘Glossary of Slang and Peculiar Terms in Use in the A.I.F.’. Amanda Laugesen (now the director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the Australian National University) has previously edited an online version of Pretty’s ‘Glossary’ and in 2005 published Diggerspeak: The Language of Australians at War.

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On what terms should we interrogate the past? Ancient life can seem essentially unknowable, a place where everything is different, glimpsed only in the words of those who lived then and surviving traces of material culture.

The Cambridge classical scholar Sir Moses Finley argued for an interpretation of ancient life bounded by then current civic and religious beliefs. Finley’s The Ancient Economy (1973) suggested that economic life in classical Greece and Rome was not distinct and separate, with its own language, but was tied intimately to social life. We err therefore by translating current notions of economic motivation to a world of slaves and gods, closeted women, and limited technology. The ancients did not dwell on capital formation, efficiency, or economic growth.

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In his November 2010 lecture delivered as Oxford Professor of Poetry, Geoffrey Hill tested the idea that poetry might constitute a form of perjury. He acknowledged that ‘this is a deeply pessimistic view: many would say anachronistic’. Showing that language is an imperfect and even fallen medium which presents moral hazards to its users was not, however, the ses ...

This book by Nigel Biggar, Anglican minister and Oxford Professor of Theology, is in the rich and broad tradition of thinking about war known as Just War Theory (JWT). JWT sees war as justifiable, but holds that decisions about going to war, as well as about the way it is fought, are subject to moral constraints ...

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Christopher Hilliard’s meticulously researched and richly detailed English as a Vocation: The Scrutiny Movement opens with a historical anecdote regarding an after-hours, postwar negotiation ‘between literary analysis and popular culture’ undertaken in that most evocative of English holiday destinations: Scarborough. In these opening lines, Hilliard describes how the founder and director of Birmingham University’s renowned Centre of Cultural Studies, Richard Hoggart, working in an earlier capacity as an adult education tutor in North Yorkshire, spent his evenings in the late 1940s combining classes on Shakespeare with sessions scrutinising advertising rhetoric and the language of newspaper articles.

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Ambitious, arrogant, talented, brave, learned, truculent, and convivial: Ben Jonson was too outstanding, too odd, and too contrary to be taken as a creature of his time. Yet he had so wide-ranging a life that to write his biography is to capture, in little, a great part of his remarkable age.

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‘One would have to be extremely naïve not to know immediately upon entering his room what was what when one saw the decoration with its reproduction Greek statues of hermaphrodites, and its strange collection of pictures, each boasting a posterior, mixed with pictures of pretty young men from the local garrison which the talented dilettante has made himself and continues to make.’

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Australian universities have long taught early modern (c.1500–1750) English/British and European history, but with Alexandra Walsham’s recent appointment as the first female to occupy a Cambridge history chair, there are now (with Oxford’s Lyndal Roper) two Melbourne-trained early modernist Oxbridge professors ...

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