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  • The non-words of the year

    Dec 23, 2015 | 2 Comments

    We have all become used to the various dictionaries announcing their words of the year, but this year the selection has taken a surprising turn towards non-words of the year. To be fair it all started in 2014 when the Global Language Monitor announced that the top word for the year was the heart emoji. Read more...

  • Thingummyjig

    Dec 04, 2015 | 2 Comments

    There is a set of words that are humorous names for an object or device for which you can’t produce the correct name. Read more...

  • The new terror threat ratings

    Nov 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

    The new terror threat ratings have sparked a discussion of the meaning of the words used. Read more...

  • Wordnik: Portal to the brave new world of lexicography?

    Nov 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

    The internet as made it possible to get much closer to the spoken language, given that emails, posts, blogs and so on, are conversations conveyed in writing. It allows lexicographers to roam through this verbiage at great speed to spot the items that are new. Read more...

  • The 'drunken accent'

    Nov 04, 2015 | 1 Comment

    I have been talking to children at Hillston Central School in the Riverina about Australian English and the OzPic project. As an entertaining snippet about Australian English, I told them the folklore about the Australian accent. Read more...

  • By saying 'Negro', Eric Abetz has revealed the complications of taboos

    Oct 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

    Susan Butler writes for The Drum (LANGUAGE WARNING)

    The lessons about which words are taboo have not been universally imparted. So when Senator Eric Abetz said "Negro", he was probably as surprised by the reaction as some people were by his choice of words, writes Susan Butler

  • What a rort!

    Oct 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

    Unparliamentary language

    I was asked to comment on the declaration by the Speaker in the Victorian Legislative Assembly that the word rort (and all its derived forms) was to be considered unparliamentary language. Read more...

  • Rhyming slang

    Oct 09, 2015 | 1 Comment

    Rhyming slang, contrary to popular belief, was never a big part of the Cockney way of speaking. It was made to seem that way by the entertainment industry who created such characters as Alf Garnett and Arthur Daley whose habit of rhyming slang was part of their stage make-up. Read more...

  • Breakwaters and breakwalls

    Sep 18, 2015 | 2 Comments

    It seems that breakwaters are called breakwalls. In a way I can see the logic of this. The term breakwater comes from the function, the term breakwall comes from the construction. Has breakwall replaced breakwater? Or is there some subtle distinction? Read more...

  • How our interactions with animals affect language

    Sep 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

    Human interactions with animals have given rise to many phrases in the English language. The animals may be wild, domestic or farm animals but, over the centuries, we have observed their behaviour and made reference to them in various ways.

    Dogs and cats have been companion animals for so long that they have produced a number of such expressions. Read more...

  • Is it 'myriad' insects or 'a myriad of' insects?

    Sep 04, 2015 | 2 Comments

    The use of myriad is often debated. Myriad was actually used as a noun in English long before it was used as an adjective, and today it's considered both a noun and an adjective which means it can be used with an 'a' before it (as a noun) or without an 'a' before it (as an adjective). Some argue that myriad should never be used with ‘of’ as it should only be used as an adjective. Read more...

  • The history of words | Part 2

    Aug 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

    The changing landscape of the bush

    At this year's Bendigo Writers Festival each panel member for the 'My Word' session was asked to give the word they thought of as being significant to them. The word that Susan Butler chose was ‘history’: 'There is nothing in this world that doesn’t carry its history with it. As a community we have a history. As individuals we have a personal history. The words we use have histories also.'  Read more...