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The Australian Slanguage: 02/11/07

The Australian Slanguage

The Australian Slanguage is another bookring I signed up with fairly early after joining BookCrossing. It has been traveling around the world for the last three years and finally reached me in January. I wanted to read it to see just how much I'd picked up in my short stay as an exchange student in 1990. It seemed appropriate because the college I attended wanted to make me take an ESL course even though last I checked American and Australian are both dialects of English. In the end I didn't have to take the course (although I was willing to) but the administration decided it would be insulting (I thought it was funny) and put me in their Tasmania tourism class instead.

My brief experience with the Australian slanguage is that it is as regional as any other dialect of English. Northern Tasmanians seem to use more British slang and pronunciation than their counterparts in Hobart. Hobart was probably the place where I had the most difficulty making myself understood. The bush near Sydney came closest to the stereotypical Australian accent (with the really strong 'a' sound in most words and the added 'r' on the end of any word ending in 'a'). Of course for all I know our guides could have been laying it on thick for the amusement of us Americans.

The Australian slanguage tries to cover all the many nuances of the dialect, its accent, how it is often loathed as a low point the English language (I thought we had that covered here) and how various slang terms developed. Note to Australians and Brits: in the States, ass means arse; donkey means ass. We aren't being "polite" when we use the word ass.

There is just one major flaw with the book: it's typesetting. The damn font is near illegible. There's no white space. There's not enough differentiation between regular text and block quotes. Then there is the ugly use of all caps (and not even small caps) to draw attention to the words being discussed. The book is hard on the eyes. If ever this potentially interesting book is brought back into print, I hope the next publisher has the sense to do a better typesetting job on it.

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