Category: Varieties of English

Australia WWI

Rediscovering words from the Great War

In my recent book, Furphies and Whizz-bangs: Anzac Slang from the Great War, I had the opportunity to revisit some of the classic collections of war slang, including the Australian publication Digger Dialects, written in 1919 by W.H. Downing, and the British Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914–1918, compiled by John Brophy and […]

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koala

Salties, shafters, and roos: Australian animal words

Australia is well known for its unique, and often dangerous, contributions to the animal kingdom. In March’s update, we’ve been working to bring some more Australian and New Zealand vocabulary into our dictionary, and inevitably this includes words and phrases that involve or describe some of the critters found in the bush. Pet names Most […]

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australia

Australian English: words and phrases added to OxfordDictionaries.com

In this latest update to OxfordDictionaries.com, Australian English features prominently. From lamington drives, sausage sizzles, and magic puddings to sheep cockies and wheat cockies – these latest additions to OxfordDictionaries.com reveal something of the colour and diversity of Australian English both past and present. Abbreviations The Australian English vocabulary abounds with abbreviated words marking a […]

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Is Polari its own language?

Is Polari its own language?

Nellyarda, zhoosh the riah, titivate, schlumph your Vera down, and palare that omee for the bevvies because I’ve nanti dinarli. (Translation: Listen, style your hair, make yourself look pretty, drink up your gin, and talk to that man to get a drink because I’m skint). The words you’ve just read are Polari words. Polari encompasses […]

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outback_large

Strike me lucky, mate: Aussie words added to OxfordDictionaries.com

Australian English is a distinctive part of global English. Ever since English was first spoken on the antipodean continent in the late eighteenth century, the vocabulary has evolved and adapted to such matters as the circumstances of penal settlement, indigenous culture and language, the diverse landscape, the unique flora and fauna, and the formative agricultural, […]

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alley

Alleyways of language: regional words for ‘alleyway’

In these times of mass media and global communications, it is comforting to think that regional lexical variation in British English is alive and well—in fact it seems to be right up many people’s alley. When linguists set out to collect distinctive local vocabulary, one of the classic questions informants are asked is “What do […]

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A Brit in America struggles with understanding and being understood.

The linguistic confusion of a Brit in America

When you’re a Brit living in the United States, as I am, sooner or later – and it’s usually sooner, even if you’re trying hard to fit in – you’ll end up using a word or phrase that your interlocutor just doesn’t understand. Everyone knows the obvious pitfalls, and they’re constant causes of amusement or […]

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American cookies or English biscuits? (Or both?)

Biscuit or cookie?

“England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” So said George Bernard Shaw (allegedly). Much has been written about words that are chiefly used in one country or the other (for example, eggplant in the US and aubergine in the UK), but there are also words that exist in both countries but […]

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