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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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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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Magic pudding economics

The Magic Pudding metaphor has become a mainstay of economic discourse in Australia. The idea of an ever-replenishing resource is too tempting a motif to pass up. But how recent is it? Piers Kelly looks back through the annals of Australian political discourse to find its earliest use, and finds some surprising sub-plots.

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Popularity of “Canberra bashing” lands it in the dictionary

Although the city of Canberra is coming of age and celebrating its centenary this year, Canberra bashing remains a popular national pastime. So much so that the Australian National Dictionary Centre is adding it to the Oxford’s Australian National Dictionary. Oxford University Press reveals the story behind the latest addition.

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Phantom vibration syndrome: Word of the Year

The votes are in and phantom vibration syndrome has taken out Macquarie Dictionary’s 2012 Word of the Year. So what is PVS? Long-term sufferer Aidan Wilson explains.

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Up-goer Five

Big words and jargon confound and conceal – it’s a common claim. James McElvenny looks at the recent Up-goer Five craze of explaining complex topics using only the 1,000 most common words.

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Ranga

The Australian National Dictionary Centre recently made ranga its word of the month and added it to the Oxford Australia Dictionary. The story of how it came to prominence is an interesting one – not hard when Jonah Takalua plays a role. Oxford University Press writes:

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Competition: Name the languages on the Yarra Trams posters

Lauren Gawne writes: As part of the ongoing campaign Yarra Trams to remind Melbournians that trams are heavy things these posters have been popping up all over town: Can you name all 25 of the languages? The Fully (sic) team have worked it out but now it’s your turn! The first person in the comments section below to name [...]

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Putting a price on London and the Olympics

Lauren Gawne Writes: With the 2012 London Summer Olympics now only hours away, the world is set for a fortnight of fun and games. While the organisers may want us to remember them as a the greenest games ever, it is an event that is more likely to be remembered for missile launchers on public [...]

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