December, 2016

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Goodbye, Dolly!

, Dec 15, 2016

After 46 years of advice on all things teen girl related, Dolly’s closing up shop (in print, at least). Melanie Burns explores what this might mean for language around sex, relationships, and sexualities.

Should we call the Gallipoli campaign an ‘invasion’?

, Apr 23, 2015

In an interview to promote his most recent film, Russell Crowe labelled the Gallipoli campaign an invasion, causing outrage among some Australians. Erica Dodd responds.
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Word of the year?

, Nov 16, 2013

It’s been a helluva year so far. Three prime ministers, devastating bushfires, Clive Palmer. The Australian National Dictionary Centre wants help from the public to decide on a Word of the Year for 2013. It doesn’t need to have been coined in Australia and it doesn’t even need to be new. What they’re looking for […]

Redefining the refugee

, Oct 21, 2013

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?

PM Gillard’s Linguistic Exemplar

, May 30, 2013

It seems that Julia Gillard has been listening to the advice of the Language and Culture Network of Australian Universities (LCNAU) and Fully(sic) and has started leading by example when it comes to languages. William Steed ponders her motivation… It was only recently that I commented on LCNAU’s call for Australia’s leaders to lead by […]
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Commenting or commentating on the polls

, Feb 18, 2013

The prime minister doesn't 'commentate' on opinions polls. Or should that be 'comment'? Piers Kelly investigates the history of these distinct meanings.
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Up-goer Five

, Jan 29, 2013

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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Ingrid Piller scoops Talkley Award

, Jan 10, 2013

A belated congratulations to Ingrid Piller, winner of the 2012 Talkley Award for an individual who has done the most to increase public knowledge about language. Ingrid is a very worthy recipient of this new prize due to her outstanding work as a blogger, her regular media appearances, her promotion of bilingual education and her […]
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Improvising in Spanish

, Sep 03, 2012

Recently spotted on Lamebook:  

Lingua Franca

, Aug 24, 2012

Piers Kelly writes: I’m on Lingua Franca this Saturday talking about Fully (sic) and why it’s … fully sick (and reading this post). I’m afraid that under pressure I revert to a monotone, like cornered prey trying to blend in with in with the sound of the circling wasps. For best results, I suggest you […]

Dialects in the mist

, Jun 15, 2012

ABC's Jane Cowan ran into some accent issues in Alabama, USA. She also discovered the joy of discussing language differences in a new place. Discussing and laughing together over different words and pronunciations is a great way to break the ice in a new place. Everyone can find something that's distinctive about how they speak where they're from - a word, a particular way of saying something or odd sayings.
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‘Kind of butthole’

, Apr 27, 2012

James McElvenny writes… I always thought of Archie as a nice boy, but now I see that he is in fact a very rude young man, possibly due to the strain of being a teenager for the last seventy years or so. But even early on in his perpetual adolescence, back in 1947, he used […]

Happy Passive Voice Day

, Apr 27, 2012

It was decreed, by somebody, that April 27 shall be celebrated by all as Passive Voice Day. The passive voice is always encouraged by us at Fully (sic), especially when clarity is increased. Passive Voice Day is a day when people of all walks of life are asked to embrace the passive, and to ensure […]

The importance of supporting endangered languages

, Apr 24, 2012

Yesterday on Radio Australia, Phil Kafcaloudes interviewed linguists Vaso Elefsiniotis, Simon Musgrave, and Ghil’ad Zuckerman about Australia’s endangered languages. Phil asks some tough but good questions, revolving around a central theme that I’ve heard many times before; why we should be ‘preserving’ or ‘maintaining’ these languages when no one is speaking them, to which Zuckerman […]


, Mar 30, 2012

Fairfax media’s reply to a heavily-critical Murdoch tweet includes a useful new word: “tweetorialise”: “Proof you can’t trust anything in Australian Fairfax papers, unless you are just another crazy,” he tweetorialised this morning. Although the word may have been used before just now, this is, according to Google, the first time it has occurred in […]
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Australian English revealed: introducing the AusNC

, Mar 22, 2012

Simon Musgrave writes: What is a corpus and why should we have one? It sounds like the way a low-life character in Dickens might refer to a dead body. (The word does not occur in Dickens in that sense, but his contemporaries did use it in that way –see  OED.)  But in recent usage (at […]
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When will Teresa Gambaro assimilate?

, Jan 23, 2012

Piers Kelly scrìvi: Ridiculing Teresa Gambaro is no fun at all. Her advice to immigrants, first on hygiene and last week on how to avoid racist slurs by learning English, are so elegantly moronic as stand on their own comic merit. It’s as if Gambaro is a kind of dead-pan performance artist, with some pundits doing […]
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The Talkley Award – a word nerd’s night of nights

, Dec 12, 2011

Piers Kelly writes: Earlier this month the inaugural Talkley Award was presented to celebrity linguist Kate Burridge at a small ceremony in Canberra. The award acknowledges the contributions of Australian linguists who promote language awareness in the public arena. As well as her appearances on ABC radio and television, Burridge was recognised for her part […]
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Translating ancient manuscripts via crowdsourcing

, Nov 24, 2011

Piers Kelly writes: Since the 1990s, scientists have recruited idle home computers to help with data analysis. I remember that our family’s clunky old PC used to run a screensaver that used its spare computing power to analyse the structure of cancer molecules and send the results back to a distant lab. We felt pretty […]

Aboriginal language on Broadway

, Nov 14, 2011

William Steed writes: It’s only a small thing, but I’m a fan of both Australian indigenous languages and musicals (and, thanks to X-Men, of Hugh Jackman as well). All three show up together in Jackman’s one-man show on Broadway, says ABC Online. Olive Knight sings in the show, Back on Broadway, and taught Jackman to […]