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Cover for Speaking Our Language

Speaking Our Language

The Story of Australian English

Bruce Moore


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For the first time ever the story of Australian English is about to be told in full. As part of our Centenary celebrations Oxford University Press Australia is proud to be publishing this significant contribution to the national landscape.

Speaking our Language is written for people who want to know where Australian English came from, what the forces were that molded it, why it takes its present form, and where it is going. The subtitle of this book, The Story of Australian English, derives in part from the chronological story that the book traces: the story begins with Joseph Banks and Captain James Cook collecting indigenous words such as kangaroo and quoll in northern Queensland in 1770, and it continues from there right up to the present day, when Australian English is firmly established as the natural and national language of Australia. It is a 'story' in another sense as well: the story of development of Australian English is inextricably intertwined with the stories of Australian history and culture, and of the development of Australian identity. Of all the markers of identity, language is by far the most significant. This language we speak, and which gives voice to our Australian English is central to the process of giving voice to our Australian identity: in important ways, we are what we speak, and we are how we speak.

Speaking our Language grew out of the research of the Australian National Dictionary Centre (ANDC) at the Australain National University. The Centre is named after the Australian National Dictionary, which was first published in 1988, and which includes some 10,000 Australian words. The Centre is now busy finalizing a second edition of the Australian National Dictionary, and expects to add about 4500 new words and meanings.

Oxford University Press, USA, 9780195565782, 260pp.

Publication Date: February 1, 2009