Posted by: Piers Kelly | September 15, 2009

Australian English online resources

Remember the library training? Emily and Diane have now kindly linked Oxford’s Australian National Dictionary (AND) to the library homepage. To find it, go to the library’s e-Resources & Databases list under ‘A’.  It’s also listed under the subject heading for Linguistics in the ‘Select a Subject’ section of that page.

Note that the AND is limited in one significant way. Words only make it into the dictionary if they’ve appeared in print, so effectively it’s a record of written Australian English. As you’ll know from your own experience, there are plenty of words that you say but never write – let alone publish. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty amazing historical document. Oxford is famous for its ultra-descriptivist Hotel California policy – words can check out (ie, become obsolete) but never leave. They’ll just get an Obs tag. The AND mob produce an excellent newsletter than you can subscribe to for free. The back page has oz language related comps and prizes.

For our purposes I would say that the Macquarie Word Map (linked from Wattle) is a better bet, since it’s not limited to written language. Macquarie accepts contributions from people all around Australia who share their observations about language use in a particular area. An added bonus: Word Map definitions are fun and colourful. Take this one for bogan: “unsophisticated, flanno wearing afficionado of moccasins (moccas): Shazza is a bogan! Compare bevan, bog2, chigger, booner, boonie, feral, westie.”

Compare it to AND’s definition: “1. A person who is not “with it” in terms of behaviour and appearance, and hence perceived as not being “one of us”. 2. An uncultured and unsophisticated person’”.

Boring! For me this misses the fun and complex cultural dimensions of the term

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