Essays

Wordwatching: field notes from an amateur philologist

By Julian Burnside

A bonzer (p. 288) dialogue of the unusual yet dinkum (p. 289) pedigree (p. 224) of the naughty (p. 202), nice (p. 212), and, occasionally, obscene (p. 217) English language.

We dwell in a torrent of phrases — from radio and tv, books and newspapers, and now from the web. yet, as Julian Burnside reminds us during this re-creation of the bestselling Wordwatching, phrases are a resource either one of excitement and gear, and will be deployed for strong or for sick.

Some of those essays discover curiosities in ordinary corners of the language just to remind us of the intense richness of the English language. different items use small concerns of language to demonstrate better strategies of cultural borrowing and alter. Burnside’s musings remind us that we must always now not be alarmed on the instability of the language; relatively, we should always see its wanton borrowings as a resource of its energy and power.

Wordwatching additionally reminds us of the necessity to pay attention to the misuse of language within the provider of sinister reasons — no matter if political, ideological, social, or own. An ear well-tuned to the nuances of vocabulary inoculates the hearer in contrast epidemic of deception.

With 9 new essays, facing matters as varied as time cut-off dates, fancy phrases, the issues with ‘issue’, bizarre sounds, oxymorons, and the fallacy of ‘wading in’, this revised and multiplied variation of Wordwatching is an interesting demonstration of the facility and the excitement of the English language.

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No 29 MATE the intense enterprise of parliament descended into solemn farce on 18 August 2005 while safety employees obtained a tremendous memo. They have been forbidden, it acknowledged, to deal with parliamentarians as ‘mate’. This tiny, ridiculous incursion into the area of manners and language sparked a full of life debate. The edict was once withdrawn inside 24 hours. meanwhile, parliamentarians competed with one another to reveal their hearty egalitarianism. This used to be specially obvious between these of ostensible proletarian disposition, yet conservatives have been both frightened to prevent the bad taint of aristocratic pretensions in public. As major minister, John Howard was once famously given to calling humans ‘mate’ whilst relocating one of the public. Hansard files the subsequent: Unparliamentary Language Mr expense (3. 18 pm) — Mr Speaker, are you able to be sure that attendants and safeguard team of workers were banned from utilizing the notice ‘mate’? may well you recommend the home what's unparliamentary or un-Australian in regards to the observe ‘mate’? The Speaker — I thank the executive competition Whip. i'm really not conscious of the purpose that he has raised, yet i'm going to make a few inquiries and document again as acceptable. Mr Andren (3. 18 pm) — Mr Speaker, mate, do you must make a press release concerning the correctness of the eviction of the member for brand spanking new England from the chamber the day past and why he was once requested to withdraw the notice ‘bribe’ … within the Senate, the temper used to be related: Senator Siewert (Western Australia) (1. 27 pm) — when you have been to invite a person to bet which state you have been conversing approximately in case you defined a spot the place the correct to silence was once being got rid of and staff should be thrown in reformatory for failing to incriminate themselves or dob in a mate, …? Mate is a truly previous notice, yet Senator Siewert captured its Australian connotations completely. First recorded within the fourteenth century, Johnson equates mate with the Saxon maca and the Dutch maet (a fit, an equal); and the Icelandic mate (a friend). The OED2 says it comes from the previous Teutonic notice gamaton, that means messmate (one who stocks a meal). it's an actual parallel of spouse: somebody who breaks bread with one other (from the Latin com- ‘with’ + panis ‘bread’). Mate has various meanings. Johnson, together with his widely used succinctness, bargains: ‘A husband or spouse; a spouse, male or woman; the male or woman of an animal; one who sails within the related send; one who eats on the similar desk. ’ The restricted prose of the OED2 supplies the subsequent senses: 1. A recurring significant other, an affiliate, fellow, comrade; a fellow-worker or accomplice. Now purely colloquial. See additionally messmate, playmate, schoolmate. 2. a kind of handle by means of sailors, labourers, and so on. three. one in all a couple or one among a wedded pair. four. A becoming or important associate in marriage. five. of items: the guy of a couple; a counterpart or parallel. therefore: ‘Every Nerve hath its mate or Companion’. (1668 Culpepper & Cole Bartholomews Anatomical guide) 6. some extent on tramway strains that is solid reliable and pairs or ‘mates’ with the movable tongue or activate the opposite rail; an ‘open’ or ‘fixed’ aspect.

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