Language

Amanda Laugesen on Slang and the Australian Soldier

Amanda Laugesen
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 a ... More

Brian Matthews on the 'Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18'

Brian Matthews
17 January 2014

In his brief preface to Volume 1 of the Australian Dictionary of Biography 17881850 A–H (1966), Douglas Pike describes the ‘all-Australian, Commonwealth-wide … consultation and co-operation’ underpinning the volume and notes that the breadth and complexity of its intellectual network meant the Dictionary could ‘truly be ... More

#Queryfail

Mary Cunnane
27 November 2013

Mary Cunnane, who has worked in the publishing industry since 1976, laments the laziness and irritation of those publishers who resent and underestimate unsolicited submissions from authors

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Bernadette Hince reviews 'Words of the World'

Bernadette Hince
31 October 2013

Nothing ever gets taken out of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) – at least, that’s what I believed until I read this book. Words which are no longer used simply stay where they are, complete with their quotations, and the addition of a small dagger symbol (†) to signify their obsolescence: for example, More

Colin Steele

Colin Steele
25 September 2012

Dr Johnson wrote in his review of Soame Jenyns’s A Free Enquiry into the Nature of the Origin of Good and Evil: ‘The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.’ One could argue, in the context of contemporary scholarly writing, that increasingly the only end is to satisfy the evaluative demands of research ... More

Unsung hero of Australian lexicography

Sarah Ogilvie
23 May 2012

Historical dictionaries depend on quotations to exemplify how a word is used over time. An unsung hero of Australian lexicography, who contributed more than 100,000 quotations to the Australian National Dictionary (AND) and Oxford English Dictionary (OED) over a period of thirty years, died two years ago this month. Mr Chris ... More

Landmines in lexicography

Sarah Ogilvie
23 April 2012

by Sarah Ogilvie

 

When the ALP conference voted to amend the party platform on same-sex marriage at the end of last year, there was a flurry of debate in magazines, newspapers, and online. The platform now states: ‘Labor will amend the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all adult couples irrespective of sex wh ... More

Parasitic dictionaries and spam books

Sarah Ogilvie
21 March 2012

by Sarah Ogilvie

 

A few years ago, Peter Austin and David Nathan, two Australian linguists working at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London, discovered that their dictionary of Kamilaroi, anAboriginal language of New South Wales, was for sale on Amazon. The only problem was that they had not put it there and it had someone else ... More

Citizen lexicography

Sarah Ogilvie
27 February 2012

Creating a ‘Word Zoo’ in Canberra

by Sarah Ogilvie

 

Every day for the past few months, the Sydney linguist Michael Walsh has been sitting in the Mitchell Library poring over old manuscripts. He is extracting old wordlists of Aboriginal languages from the library’s rich collection of early British settler diaries, missionary fi ... More

The future of dictionaries in the digital age

Sarah Ogilvie
21 January 2012
‘A new garment throughout’

by Sarah Ogilvie

 

We are on the verge of another revolution in dictionary-making. Since the seventeenth century there have been three major revolutions in lexicographic practice. In 1604 Robert Cawdrey produced the first monolingual English dictionary, which was – radically – arran ... More

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