4th Forum on Englishes in Australia

La Trobe University Linguistics program has hosted a forum on Englishes in Australia for four years now – our thanks to the dedicated people who have made this event a regular feature of the linguistics scene in Australia. This year’s event took place on August 27 and our team (in different combinations) presented on two topics in the forum:

  • Howard Manns, Simon Musgrave and Dylan Hughes: Australian slang, its people and its analogues: The social and cultural life of a lexicon
  • Isabelle Burke and Kate Burridge: From “a bit of processed cheese” to “a bit of a car accident” and “a little bit of oh really” — the journey of Australian English “a bit (of)”

How to win friends (and Australian Research Council funding)

How did Kate Burridge and her team convince the federal government that slang is  capable of illuminating truths about our collective identity as a result of slang being so unfiltered, and therefore “tied so much closer to the social and cultural aspects of people”?
With what Education Minister Dan Tehan, who announced the grants, says has got to be the most profanity-ridden project proposal the federal government has ever granted money to.
“It probably is,” says Mr Tehan with a laugh, when asked about the first line of the Monash University project’s description, which read, “I thought I was kissed on the d— by a fairy … I thought, ‘Shit this is f—ing fair dinkum.’ ” (The quote, which Mr Tehan says he had possibly not seen before the grant was given, came from a rural firefighter who was commenting about surviving a blaze during the fires that ravaged the NSW South Coast last summer.)
“But, I must say I’ve used all that terminology in that quote at some stage in my life, and I understand exactly where that firefighter was coming from,” says Mr Tehan, adding that he’s “incredibly excited” about the project for its chance to “illuminate the rest of the world as to how important slang is to who we are”.
(Minister Tehan was interviewed by Samantha Selenger-Morris for the Sydney Morning Herald. This post is a small part of her story – thank you Samantha!)