NSW minister accused of racial slur

5:35pm June 19, 2014
The comment was made during a heated exchange between Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham and Roads Minister Duncan Gay in question time in the upper house on Thursday.
Mr Buckingham asked the minister to name one potential user of the controversial proposed Needles Gap Dam in western NSW.
Mr Gay, a Nationals MP, quoted from a comment left on an online article in the Central Western Daily about the dam attributed to a user called “Leafman”.
“Leafman said … `we just cannot go back to running around the bush with spears and boomerangs – we have to have water security’,” Mr Gay told parliament. Continue reading

Death in 140 characters

On the day when my brother died this April, I went to Twitter and wrote to my twenty- something – thousand followers:

So all of these people on Twitter knew about my brother’s passing, even before I was able to share the news with our Aunt Patsy in Ballarat.
Was it wrong or right for me to turn to social media in that intense time of grief? Disrespectful, unthinking, oversharing?
Just what did I think I’d get out of it? Was it for him or me, or… I’ve been thinking lately about all of that. Continue reading

Practice Essay: formal language and social harmony

Practice Essay- Section C
Write a sustained expository response. 700-800 words

a. ‘Extra-Visibility or Emphasis on Difference: In many contexts it is quite unnecessary to mention a person’s sex, race, ethnic background or other characteristics, yet such characteristics are often mentioned even at the expense of information that would have benn more relevant to the context. This is particularly true for members of minority groups. Unnecessary references of this nature should be avoided.’
Inclusive Language Policy, University of Western Sydney
b. When people talk, they lay lines on each other, do a lot of role playing, sidestep, shilly-shally and engage in all manner of vagueness and innuendo. We do this an expect others to do it, yet at the same time we profess to long for the plain truth, for people to say what they mean, simple as that. Such hypocrisy is a human universal.’
Steven Pinker, ‘Words Don’t Mean What They Mean’, Time, 6 September 2007
c. ‘(M)odern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning an inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.’
George Orwell, Politics and the English language, Horizon, April 1946
d. ‘It’s an uphill battle to get broadcasters to recognise and avoid bureaucratese, jargon, clichés and sheer pomposity. Media releases are often the source of such language but reporters who use them should weed out and replace any stilted or unidiomatic expressions that they wouldn’t normally use themselves…A politician may say, “We expect to see more ships going in and out of Sydney harbour going forward.” But journalists should be aware of how silly this cliché can make them sound, and realise that it’s redundant anyway.’
Irene Poinkin, ‘SCOSE notes’, Australian Style, April 2009

Formal language can both promote and prevent social harmony. Discuss, referring to at least two subsystems of language in your response.
This essay is a sample from Insight Publications, 2013

People with dis…

People with disabilities, and those who suffered under the practice of forced adoptions, are two very different groups of people, however both have been marginalised by society, both in action and in the language used to talk about them. Even though both the renaming of NDIS to DisabilityCare and Abbott’s use of “relinquish” and “birth-parents” may not have been intentionally offensive, when a group of people have suffered so much the least we can do is give them the right to choose the way we talk about these topics.

Linguist Lauren Gawne on how the marginalised in society can be disempowered by language choices.