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Sep 6, 2013

Candidates get their language on

One day out from the election and Greg Dickson has noticed a few more languages other than English being used in various campaigns. Is this a last-ditch effort to reach every constituent, a deliberate recognition of our linguistic diversity, or just because we can?

wamut

AKA: Greg Dickson. Postdoc guy at University of Queensland with Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. Somewhere there, also a community linguist (Katherine region, NT) specialising in Aboriginal languages.

Last week we presented a starter list of election candidates who speak Languages Other Than English (LOTEs). We complained that in many cases it’s hard to find such information as many candidates seem to conceal their knowledge of other languages and few use them publicly.

Well, this week we’ve started noticing more languages other than English being used in election campaigns and more LOTE-speaking candidates going public with their bilingualism. One of three things has happened since last week: (1) we’ve starting paying more attention, (2) campaigning truly did get so bat-sh-t boring that the English-only monotony had to be broken, or (3) Fully (sic) is so incredibly influential that we convinced campaigners not to be so shy about using their LOTEs. I go for (3).

In our previous post, we mentioned Teresa Gambaro as a likely-Italian speaker but hadn’t come across evidence. And Fully (sic) had previously drawn attention to Gambaro’s comments about how migrants should learn English in order to avoid racism. Then, on Monday’s 4 Corners, she was there chiacchierando in her electorate to restauranteur, Guiseppe (10:25 in). Also on Monday, another Italian-speaking Liberal candidate, Carmen Garcia, tweeted enthusiastically about doing her first radio interview in Italian on Italian community radio in Adelaide:

Teresa and Carmen counter my previous argument that left-leaning candidates are more likely to be out and proud about their LOTEs. But it does still seem that those left-of-centre are more inclined to embrace LOTEs. Our previous post showed Australian First Nation’s party Senate hopeful Rosalie Kunoth-Monks speaking in Arrernte on radio. Her House of Reps counterpart, Ken Lechleitner, did the same:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/71930375[/vimeo]

The Greens seem equally less shy about using LOTEs. We previously mentioned Adam Bandt’s attempt to struggle through an SBS Radio interview in his not-quite perfect German. Since then, he’s teamed with an Oromo-speaking supporter Toltu Tufa to present a campaign message to the Oromo community:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEgDmDe3PPM[/youtube]

The Greens haven’t restricted their use of LOTEs to local campaigns. This morning the Australian Greens posted messages in German and Polish to their 80,000+ Facebook followers:

I’m not sure what to attribute this apparent increased use of LOTEs in the election to. Is it a last-ditch effort to reach out to every corner of the electorate, or belated recognition that Australia’s linguistic diversity is something to be valued? Or do we get so sick of the monopoly that English has in our campaigning that we mix up just because we can.

If you’ve seen other examples of Languages Other Than English being used in campaigning, please let us know.

Disclaimer: Greg Dickson is still a member of the NT Greens. And still bilingual.

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