June, 2016

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How to solve Australia’s language learning crisis

, Jun 15, 2016

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With the "moribund" state of language learning in Australia in the spotlight, Ingrid Piller busts some myths, arguing that it does not have to be this way and that something can be done about it.
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How to be a Shady Fish: Speaking like a Queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race

, Apr 13, 2016

Do we ever sound like our authentic selves? Or is the way we talk always dependent on who we are talking to? Guest blogger Cass Bleechmore looks at the way the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race communicate and create a shared identity. Despite using a distinctive lexicon, drag queens are just doing what we all do: using language to construct group identity.
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Five use a mysterious preposition

, Mar 30, 2016

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Lurking in the seemingly innocuous pages of a classic children’s story is the perplexing use of an extraneous preposition. What’s it doing there? And what can it tell us about how language changes? Richard Ingold investigates.
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What’s in a name? Language and the (gay) marriage (equality) debate.

, Oct 16, 2015

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The meaning of the word ‘marriage’ has been hotly debated in the media and in global politics over the last few years. To explore the role of language in shaping the debate about social changes, here’s Elisabeth Griffiths with an examination of the terms used by those for and against changing the legal definition of ‘marriage’.
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Words can wound. Let’s stop calling people ‘crazy’.

, Oct 08, 2015

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This Mental Health Week, Erica Dodd explains why casually using terms that deride mental illness can have more of an effect than you might think.
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Referring to people with disabilities: A how-to guide

, Jul 23, 2015

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Ever wonder how to refer to people with disabilities without being offensive? Louisa Willoughby has some rules to follow that should avoid any unintended rudeness.
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Out with the newspaper, in with the gender-neutral title!

, Jun 12, 2015

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A newspaper closes its doors but a linguistic window opens! Allie Severin thinks the shutdown of mX could mean good things for Australian English.
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Swedes and Australians say yes to gender neutrality

, Apr 02, 2015

As society becomes more focussed on equality, some languages are evolving to include gender-neutral pronouns. Allie Severin and Hedvig Skirgård discuss how this is playing out in Swedish and Australian English.
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Banning prisoners from speaking Arabic is lazy and probably a human rights breach

, Mar 08, 2015

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Arabic is not a small, minority language. It is the fourth most widely spoken language in Australia. The decision to ban some NSW prisoners speaking it is not only possibly a human rights breach but also just lazy, according to Greg Dickson.

Redefining the refugee

, Oct 21, 2013

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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

, Aug 30, 2013

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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International Mother Language Day

, Feb 21, 2013

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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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That’s so gay

, Nov 30, 2012

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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:

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

, Nov 16, 2012

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.

The latest talk on Australia’s linguistic diversity

, Jun 22, 2012

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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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NZ Herald ignores facts, perpetuates fears

, May 30, 2012

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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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The Fully (sic) 2012 Eurovision wrap-up

, May 29, 2012

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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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TAFE turns a blind eye to the deaf

, May 26, 2012

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

, May 21, 2012

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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 […]

How can multilingual bureaucracy be incentivised?

, May 14, 2012

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The Victorian Department of Human Services is seeking feedback from residents in public housing, but only if they can understand and fill out the English-only form. Aidan Wilson says the bureaucracy be doing more to help non-English speaking people by providing documents in their first language.