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SOCIETY |

Redefining the refugee

Fairfax media reports that Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has sent a list of appropriate terminology for referring to refugee boat arrivals, including referring to the people as ‘illegal arrivals’ and ‘detainees’. How does changing terminology change how we think about something?

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SOCIETY |

Jessica Mitford and a star-spangled language

In 1939, writer and activist Jessica Mitford learned that in America, “if someone pays you a compliment—you’re looking well, what a pretty dress, and so forth—you are supposed to say ‘Thank you,’ instead of just mumbling inaudibly.” Piers Kelly observes that in 70 years, certain differences between U.S. and British styles of communication have stood the test of time.

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SOCIETY |

International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day commemorates a political struggle for linguistic recognition of Bangla over 60 years ago. Celebrate by learning a bit about your friends’ mother languages, writes Aidan Wilson.

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SOCIETY |

That’s so gay

What’s the harm in casually using the phrase ‘that’s so gay’? Nothing particularly sinister is meant by it and no offence is usually intended. 1,500,000 tweets give a different impression. Greg Dickson writes that homophobic language negatively affects gay people regardless of speaker’s intentions:

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SOCIETY |

How to make friends and influence people: Know your audience!

In the wake of the Asian Century white paper, some have complained that our own English language standards are dropping, and that the Prime Minister is getting lax with her Ps and Qs. Are they right? Dr Simon Musgrave looks at some of the complaints.

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SOCIETY |

The latest talk on Australia’s linguistic diversity

William Steed writes: The 2011 census data is out. One of the questions it asked is about the language spoken at home. It reveals some things about the Australian populace that some people may find surprising. Hopefully, they also find it heartening. Across Australia, 20.4% of households reported speaking more than one language at home [...]

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SOCIETY |

NZ Herald ignores facts, perpetuates fears

The NZ Herald reported on a research paper on migrant intergration and specifically multilingual signs, but as Lauren Gawne writes, their article didn’t faithfully represent the research.

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SOCIETY |

The Fully (sic) 2012 Eurovision wrap-up

Lauren Gawne writes: There were the obligatory white pants, smoke machines and flame throwers, as well as a rise in the popularity of female drummers, beards and women showing their knickers to the world. Eurovision 2012 had a very solid final and apart from Sweden’s breakout hit Euphoria (above, a genuinely good dance song with crab-walk [...]

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SOCIETY |

TAFE turns a blind eye to the deaf

Guest blogger and sign language expert Adam Schembri writes: It has been a confusing and disturbing week for the deaf community of Victoria, for Auslan students at TAFE, and for those of us who work for and with deaf community organisations. On Monday, Kangan Institute of TAFE announced that, following cutbacks to the TAFE sector, [...]

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SOCIETY |

The monolingual mindset isn’t just an Aussie problem: A Kiwi case

Lauren Gawne writes: We reported a week ago that the Monolingual Mindset cropped up again in Victoria, with the Department of Human Services declining to have a residents’ survey translated for the roughly 60% of intended surveyees for whom English is not a first language. It seems that there are similar attitudes towards languages other [...]

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