Archive for the ‘English Usuage’ Category

Diminutives in Australian English

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Australian English and the use of the dminutive

All languages use diminutives, shortened versions of the original word. We may use them to show affection or perhaps because we want to sound less formal, more friendly. Some diminutives may even be seen as slang. One of the quirks of Australian English is the wide use of them. There are over 5000 known expressions, far higher than in British or American English.

Take a look at the following invite from an ‘Aussie’ friend. Would you say yes?

‘What are you up to s’arvo? Straya are playing footy against the poms on the tellie. I’m having a barbie. We’ve  got snags and loads of stubbies and don’t forget your cossie.’

Does it seem like an alien language?  Packed full of typical Aussies diminutives, it may at first be hard to understand. We’ll take a look at some of the most popular ones and help you unravel your baffling invite.

Our Top Diminutives In Australian English

How many of the following do you already know, or can guess at?

Jobs:  chalkie (teacher), postie (postman), chippie (carpenter), sparkie (electrician), ambo (paramedic), pollie (politician)

Food and drink: chockie (chocolate), snag (sausages), mushies (mushrooms), veggies (vegetables), stubbies ( small bottled beer), barbie (barbeque)

Others: Poms (the British), Aussies (the Australians), Straya (Australia), footy (rugby), s’arvo (this afternoon), cossie (swimming costume),  you beaut (great), tellie (television), roo (kangaroo), rellie (a relative), sunnies (sunglasses), lippie (lipstick), smoko (cigarette break), mozzie (mosquito)

More Examples

Just why are Aussie’s so fond of their diminutives?

It seems many Aussie diminutives have slipped into English dictionary. Who isn’t familiar with the terms ‘selfie’ and ‘uni’?

Are modern day Aussie’s just being lazy? No, argues Dr Nenagh Kemp of the Australian Geographic  Society.  She points out that Australians have been shortening common place words from the early 1800s and in some cases the diminutive version is actually longer than the original.  It seems that their use in more a cultural expression. In general, Aussies are often seen as laid back, friendly, open and welcoming. It makes sense then that the language they use would reflect that.  We hand over the last word to Dr. Kemp

“I think we all have an intuitive feeling that these words also make an interaction more informal, more friendly and relaxed.”

British English or American English

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Where you learn your English affects not just how you pronounce words but even the vocabulary you use. Which language do you speak? British English or American English?
British English or American English

British English or American English Test

Anticlockwise or counterclockwise

Biscuit or cookie

Chemist  or drugstore

Autumn or the fall

Car park or parking lot

Crisps or potato chips

Sweets or candy

Casualty or emergency room

Cinema or movie theatre

Dustbin or garbage can

Football or soccer

Garden or yard

Holiday or vacation

Lift or elevator

Lorry or truck

Mobile phone or cell phone

Petrol or gas

If you selected the first option in each line, you are speaking British English, the second option being American English.  Did you end up with a mixture of the two? The reality is in many cases, even the Brits themselves may end up using ‘Americanisms’.  Perhaps not too surprising when you consider  the global dominance of American movies and TV.

Have we piqued your interest?  Discover more with Oxford dictionaries.

The English Coined by Shakespeare

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

English coined by William ShakespeareThere are few of us who haven’t heard of William Shakespeare, the famous 16th century English playwright. Most of us would even be able to name at least one of his most famous works. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet or Macbeth perhaps? Far fewer of us though would have claimed to have read one of his plays  or been to see a performance. The archaic language makes comprehension difficult even for native English speakers.

However the language of Shakespeare may not be as out dated as it may at first appear. Many terms that Shakespeare either coined or popularised  are still in common usage even today. The following is a list of our favourites:

In a pickle’ – To be in a difficult position (The Tempest)

‘Waiting with bated breath’ – To anticipate something with great eagerness ( The Merchant of Venice)

‘On a wild goose chase’ – A search for something that is difficult to find or doesn’t even exist (Romeo & Juliet)

‘The be-all and end-all’ – The only thing/person that matters (Macbeth)

‘A heart of gold’ A sincere, generous and kind nature  (Henry V)

‘Fair play’ – Conformity to agreed rules or morally upright conduct  (The Tempest)

A  ‘Gossip’ – A person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others (A Midnight Summer’s Dream)

‘Gloomy‘– Unhappy and without hope (Titus Andronicus)

And last but not least ‘Fashionable’ – Conforming to the current style or fashion (Troilus and Cressida)

Find out more about Shakespeare’s contribution to the English language.

WW1 Trenches Breeding Ground for Modern English

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Most of us, at some point in our lives, will indulge in a spot of  ‘binge drinking’. Perhaps some of us will be lucky enough to have a  ‘cushy’ job. Ever wondered when these modern English terms were first coined?

Recent research carried out by the British Library shows that many terms in current everyday English were first used in the tumultuous environment of the First World War trenches. British Library documents covering the period 1914-1918 unveil terms such as  ‘washed out’, ‘fed up’, ‘snapshot’, ‘bloke’ and ‘blind spot’. Many of these words reflect the soldiers attempts to convey the exhaustion and brutality of their existence in the trenches. Unsurprisingly the documents also revealed new euphemisms for dying such as ‘pushing up the daisies’ and ‘snuffing it’.

According to the British Library researcher Walker, “It was a very creative time for language. Soldiers have always had a genius for slang and coming up with terms. This was a citizen army – and also the first really literate army – and at the end of the war, those that survived took their new terms back to the general population.”

Soldiers in the trenches coined many modern English phrases

Read more on the Guardian.