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Episode 9: Aussie English

American singer Ashlee Simpson (right) and Australian singers The Veronicas (left) with men in budgie smugglers at the MTV Music Awards press conference.

The Oxford English Dictionary is calling on Australians to share their "Australianisms," otherwise known as a term or slang unique to the Australian lexicon.

Italian

 

L'Oxford English Dictionary fornisce una guida al significato e alla storia di circa 800.000 parole e vocaboli composti, sia passati che presenti.

Per essere inclusa nel dizionario, una parola deve dimostrare diversi esempi del suo utilizzo, insieme a prove che abbia raggiunto un livello in cui è usata con l'aspettativa di essere compresa.

Alcune parole, come "robustious" - un comportamento fortemente assertivo o chiassoso - e "brainsickly" - malato di mente, squilibrato, mentalmente disturbato - risalgono all'età della letteratura classica.

Altri, come "gorpcore" - uno stile di abbigliamento che comprende vestiti pratici per l’attività all'aperto - e "broflake" - un uomo turbato da attitudini progressiste in ​​conflitto con le sue opinioni più conservatrici - sono più recenti.

Ora che l'Oxford English Dictionary sta per compiere 90 anni, ha lanciato una campagna chiamata Words Where You Are.

Il dizionario ha chiesto a persone di tutto il mondo di condividere parole e frasi uniche dei loro paesi, allo scopo di creare un’istantanea del modo in cui parlano.

La direttrice dell'Australian National Dictionary Center, Amanda Laugesen, ha dichiarato di voler vedere il maggior numero possibile di australianismi nel dizionario.

“The Australian variety of English has a long history and is very colourful, and it's full of interesting things. (It) also reflects our historical development and things that have influenced Australian society and culture."

Esempi di australianismi nel dizionario includono "budgie smuggler" – un costume da bagno stretto o comunque biancheria intima da uomo - e "tall poppy syndrome" - una tendenza a screditare coloro che raggiungono la notorietà.

Alcune parole australiane per indicare vari oggetti sono semplicemente diverse da quelle usate altrove. Ad esempio, la maggior parte degli australiani chiama le infradito "thongs", mentre in Nuova Zelanda il termine è "jandals".

L'Australia ha anche una serie di termini regionali soggetti a un dibattito semiserio su quale sia quello migliore. I melburniani chiamano in genere "potato cake" una patata fritta e impanata, mentre qualcuno a Sydney potrebbe non essere d’accordo e chiamarla invece "potato scallop".

Secondo L'Oxford English Dictionary le parole regionali sono tra le più inventive e evocative del linguaggio perché possono creare un senso di appartenenza o differenza. Amanda Laugesen è d'accordo.

“In terms of regionalisms, I mean, I think there's some fun ones. South Australia has their 'frogcakes' ((a dessert in the shape of a frog's head)) and 'pie floaters' ((a meat pie in a bowl of green pea soup)). In Tasmania, they have retained some British dialect terms like 'nointer' for a naughty child and 'yassler' for someone who's particularly loud and obnoxious. Yeah, I find it interesting, because it also reflects the history and culture of particular places in Australia."

Alfonso Elifonce è nato in Messico e si è trasferito in Australia nel 2006 e sostiene di aver avuto problemi con il gergo australiano quando è arrivato, ma ha trovato che accettarlo è estremamente utile.

“I think it's important that foreigners get into learning the slang, the Australian slang, because it does kind of give you a bit of acceptance. People like it when you use the slang. It helps you adapt a little bit socially, to be honest."

Alfonso ha aggiunto che un particolare australianismo lo ha confuso quando lo ha ascoltato per la prima volta, sebbene abbia imparato da allora ad amarlo - un termine che può suggerire approvazione o, al contrario, disapprovazione.

“At the beginning, I was definitely a bit obsessed with 'yeah-nah.' I think 'yeah-nah' is my favourite, because ... it's a bit confusing still.“

Marijana Buljan è produttore esecutivo del programma croato di Radio SBS.

Il suo lavoro consiste, fra l’altro, nel tradurre in croato il materiale prodotto in inglese dal team di SBS News per il suo programma.

A suo parere alcuni australianismi sono così unici che non solo sono spesso difficili da capire, ma anche impossibili da tradurre.

“Lots of phrases that politicians use ... I'm still struggling with how to translate 'fair dinkum.' That's our main challenge. Also, (the) Australian political system is slightly different to the Croatian one. It's very hard to explain what 'backbencher' is in the Croatian language, because all members of parliament there are equal.“

Chiunque voglia condividere un australianismo con l'Oxford English Dictionary può andare online e utilizzare l’hashtag #wordswhereyouare.

 

 


 

English

 

The Oxford English Dictionary is a guide to the meaning and history of about 800,000 words and compounds, both past and present.

Being included in the dictionary requires several examples of the word being used, along with evidence the word has reached a level where it is used with the expectation of being understood.

Some words, such as “robustious” -- a strongly assertive or boisterous manner -- and “brainsickly” -- sick in the mind, deranged, mentally disturbed -- date back to the age of classical literature.

Others, such as “gorpcore” -- a style of dress incorporating practical clothing for outdoor activities -- and “broflake” -- a man upset by progressive attitudes conflicting with his more conservative views -- are more recent.

Now, the Oxford English Dictionary is turning 90 years old, and it has launched a Words Where You Are campaign.

The dictionary is asking people around the world to share words and phrases unique to their countries, aiming to create snapshots of how they speak.

The director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, Amanda Laugesen, says she wants to see as many Australianisms in the dictionary as possible.

“The Australian variety of English has a long history and is very colourful, and it's full of interesting things. (It) also reflects our historical development and things that have influenced Australian society and culture."

Examples of Australianisms in the dictionary include “budgie smugglers” -- men's underwear or tight swimming trunks -- and “tall poppy syndrome” -- a tendency to discredit those who achieve prominence.

Some Australian words for items simply differ from those used elsewhere.

For example, most Australians call flip-flops “thongs,” while, in New Zealand, they are “jandals.”

Australia also has a range of regional terms subject to light-hearted debate over the better term.

Melburnians will typically call a deep-fried, battered potato a “potato cake,” while someone in Sydney might argue for “potato scallop.”

The Oxford English Dictionary says regional words are among the most inventive and evocative in language because they can create a sense of belonging or difference.

Ms Laugesen agrees.

“In terms of regionalisms, I mean, I think there's some fun ones. South Australia has their 'frogcakes' ((a dessert in the shape of a frog's head)) and 'pie floaters' ((a meat pie in a bowl of green pea soup)). In Tasmania, they have retained some British dialect terms like 'nointer' for a naughty child and 'yassler' for someone who's particularly loud and obnoxious. Yeah, I find it interesting, because it also reflects the history and culture of particular places in Australia."

Alfonso Elifonce was born in Mexico and moved to Australia in 2006.

He says he struggled with Australian slang when he arrived but he found embracing it hugely beneficial.

"I think it's important that foreigners get into learning the slang, the Australian slang, because it does kind of give you a bit of acceptance. People like it when you use the slang. It helps you adapt a little bit socially, to be honest."

He says one particular Australianism confused him when he first heard it, although he has since learned to love it  -- a term which can suggest agreement or, on the contrary, disagreement.

"At the beginning, I was definitely a bit obsessed with 'yeah-nah.' I think 'yeah-nah' is my favourite, because ... it's a bit confusing still."

Marijana Buljan is the executive producer of SBS Radio's Croatian program.

It is her job to translate work produced by the English-speaking SBS News team into Croatian for her program's broadcast.

She says some Australianisms are so unique they are not only often difficult to understand but impossible to translate.

"Lots of phrases that politicians use ... I'm still struggling with how to translate 'fair dinkum.' That's our main challenge. Also, (the) Australian political system is slightly different to the Croatian one. It's very hard to explain what 'backbencher' is in the Croatian language, because all members of parliament there are equal."

Anyone wanting to share an Australianism with the Oxford English Dictionary can go online and use #wordswhereyouare.

Report by by Evan Young

 

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