Words & language
Anything and everything in Words & language from across our archives.
Martin Amis on Don Quixote: “Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies. When the experience is over, and the old boy checks out at last (on page 846 — the prose wedged tight, with no breaks for dialogue), you will shed tears all…
Translating Australian English
Last week we offered some untranslatable words that you might use on holidays and our commenters came back with some even better suggestions including some home-grown suggestions.
One anonymous commentator suggested the excellent Australianism, ‘dag’. Their explanation gave played out the subtleties of the word that’s evolved beyond the barnyard. “You can explain the unpleasant farming origins of the word but it’s difficult to…
Words of the Year for 2010
Macquarie Dictionary is reviewing the words of 2011 and asking for people to vote on their favourite word of the year. The list makes for a fascinating picture of what interested us in the last 12 months as well as introducing a few playful expressions to your vocabulary.
We were surprised to learn that koala ears has little to do with the marsupial. With…
The Interrobang: A Festival of Questions
Would it advantage Australia by changing the names of our capital cities to their Indigenous language names? Gregory Phillips
OK Rules, OK?
How does an expression of uncertain provenance and contested spelling, for which each language already has its own long-standing version, take over the world? Allan Metcalf, author of OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word, has published an introduction on the expression and its spread across the world. With several alternative spellings (okay, o.k. and ok), the term seems to have originated…
Explore these other subjects, across our site.