Words & language
Working with Words: Alex McKinnon
Alex McKinnon is a Sydney-based writer and journalist. He spoke with us about the importance of curiosity, refusing to write for free and how snark and sarcasm can become hollow.
Stories from Home
What happens when collaborating artists share no common language but sound?
We’ll ask choreographer Gideon Obarzanek and musical director Genevieve Lacey, two of the artists involved in the incredible Chinese-Australian project One Infinity. This dance and music collaboration saw Australian artists work with musicians from the Jun Tian Fang guqin cultural centre in Beijing.
Lacey spent a month at…
In Other Words: Jorge Carrión on Translation
We often talk about what is lost in translation. But how about how much is gained – for readers, writers and translators themselves?
Catalan-Spanish writer and academic Jorge Carrión is translated in Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, German, French, Polish and English. Most famous in English for his recent book, Bookshops, he’ll join Melbourne-based academic and translator Lilit Thwaites at the…
Books and Ideas at Montalto
Michael Mohammed Ahmad
Michael Mohammed Ahmad is a writer whose novels explore Australia’s smouldering tribalism – found as much within its communities as between them – eschewing clichés and easy, feel-good conclusions.
His first novel, The Tribe, introduced readers to the complex family life of protagonist Bani Adam, a young boy from a religious Lebanese Muslim family in western Sydney. In The Lebs…
Invasion of the Pod People
As podcasts go, award-winning British show The Allusionist is a logophile’s dream.
Ever heard of Toki Pona (said to be ‘the smallest language in the world’) or indefinite hyperbolic numerals (‘zillions, jillions or squillions’)? Have you questioned Western yogic deployments of ‘namaste’, opening lines on dating apps, or dating systems of the BC, AD and BCE kind? Producer and host…
The Wheeler Centre Gala 2018: Words on Fire: Patricia Cornelius
For the 2018 Wheeler Centre Gala Night of Storytelling, we invited our speakers to probe a blazing, hot topic: the power of the written word and the loaded tenets of speech.
When do words inspire and when do they incite? When is speech free, and when is it hateful? Fighting words, funny words, insulting words and incendiary words – for…
Anything and everything in Words & language from across our archives.
The Longest Word in the Language
NPR science correspondent Robert Krulwich has published a piece on the various contenders for the prestigious title of the longest word in English.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the behemoths of the language are names given to chemical compounds, but the matter isn’t so simple. There are certain tests the word must pass: it must have been used at least once, for example, which means it needs…
Classic video of the crossword inker
In a parallel universe crossword puzzles are made by a specialised team of artisans known as the “box team” including Garson Hampfield, crossword inker. Hampfield tells the intricacies and travails of crossword making in this animation by Michael A Charles. There’s landmark moments in the evolution of crossword setting, the rise of mechanised crossword grids as well as our favourite quote: “A lot of…
On Typewriters & Translation
Melbourne is playing host to two literary festivals with a difference over the next few days. The Sticky Institute’s I am Typewriter festival will be “investigating the love affair between zine and machine” until February 13 - and who doesn’t love the click and zing of a typewriter? It’s the surest way to beat writer’s block. The festival will culminate with the centrepiece event…
Are you OK or okay?
If your finger hovers over the “a” key after writing “ok” then you’re not alone. Roy Blount from the New York Times recently puzzled over what the correct spelling was.
Blount traces the first use of okay back to a bad joke about mispelling:
“The first use of OK in print, in The Boston Morning Post of March 23, 1839, was a joke: “o.k…
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