Literary New Year’s resolutions from the OUP Team

As the end of 2017 draws near and we look towards a new year with varying degrees of optimism, it’s time to consider our New Year’s resolutions.

In the OUP office, we have eschewed the usual resolutions involving eating and drinking less and exercising more, in the hope of having a higher level of success (and continue to indulge in regular sugar-laden morning and afternoon teas) with our literary New Year’s resolutions.

Below is the list of novels that we resolve to read in 2018, and some books that we think are perfect beach reads for the summer break. No scales or Fitbits involved!


Angela Glindemann, Sales and Marketing Coordinator

This year I want to read:

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien – This insightful author spoke at the Adelaide Writers’ Week this year, and I’ve been keen to read this book ever since. From what I’ve read, it combines a story of familial roots with the broader history of China in the twentieth century, and sounds like a fascinating read.

My favourite holiday read is:

The Town by Shaun Prescott – This is a delightful book for those who count existential thoughts as a holiday activity. It will make you question who we are and where we’re going, in an unsettling and uniquely Australian way. It’s not really a beach read, although there is a beach in The Town.


Marta, Marketing Coordinator, Schools Division

This year I want to read:

Extinctions by Josephine Wilson – the story sounds really interesting, about an older man needing to choose between his life-long possessions and his family.

The Sea by John Banville – this book won the 2005 Man Booker Prize.

The Silent Companions: A ghost story by Laura Purcell – I’ve always loved a bit of a ghost story and this one sounded interesting.

Sugar Money by Jane Harris – a story set in 1765 about slaves and their mission to smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – I stumbled on this book while searching for another Jennifer Egan book. The reviews were very positive and I discovered that this book was the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan – the newest release by Jennifer Egan. Once I knew Jennifer Egan was a Pulitzer Prize winner, I didn’t hesitate to add this to my wish list.

Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley – the story is based around a family farm and the hard choices that need to be made by the family.

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott – written by a National Book Award-winning author and the book was shortlisted for the 2017 Kirkus Prize. This novel is about three generations of an Irish immigrant family in 1940s and 1950s Brooklyn.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – this book won the 2017 Man Booker Prize. It’s about Abraham Lincoln dealing with the death of his 11-year-old son.

My favourite beach reads are:

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


Fleur, Marketing and Communications Advisor

This year I want to read:

The Dry by Jane Harper – this book has attracted so much positive attention, and I love the way that Harper was so honest when she was asked about how the book came about, saying that she approached it like any project: educating herself, planning and finally, writing the book. It was a practical approach to the reality of writing.

The Choke by Sophie Laguna – this is another book that has been raved about on social media, so I’d like to see what the fuss is about. I’m steeling myself for a confronting read, but I enjoy it when a book makes a big impact.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris – I’ve always wanted to read a book by Sedaris, and I picked this one up second hand, so this is my chance.

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell – A colleague mentioned they were enjoying this memoir detailing O’Farrell’s numerous brushes with death, and I think it sounds like an interesting concepts. I don’t usually choose memoirs, but this one seems to be a bit different.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout – I read Strout’s Olive Kitteridge this year and loved how it was so grim, but also insightful and touching, and Anything is Possible one has attracted equally positive reviews.

My  favourite beach reads are:

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – it allows the reader to enter a different world, and become part of an Indian family, with all of the complexities that involves. It’s an easy but immersive read, perfect for the beach.

Commonwealth by Anne Patchett – this is another story about family, but a different one. Commonwealth details the life of a complicated family that is broken apart, then put together in a different way. It regularly takes the reader to sunny days at the beach, that echo a childhood and sense of long summer days familiar to many Australians.


Nami Thompson, Sales and Administration Support

This year I want to read:

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – For 2018 I would like to read George R. R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series to fill the void left by Games of Thrones as the final season won’t premiere until 2019.

My favourite beach read is:

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris –  t’s a hilarious collection of illustrated fables for adults.


Emma Magill, Publishing and Editorial Manager

My favourite beach read is:

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue – I have recommended this book to everyone and anyone who will listen! It is warm, funny and full of heart. It cleverly manages to be an easy, absorbing read while exploring complex social issues such as immigration and the global financial crisis.


Alex Chambers, Editorial Coordinator, Higher Education

This year I want to read:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (which everyone keeps raving about)

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman (before the film comes out)

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (which I hope can make me smarter)

My favourite beach read is:

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I read this for my book club this year and it’s a winner.


Valerie Stoelen, Editor: Secondary

This year I want to read:

Mythos by Steven Fry – because … Greek myths + Steven Fry

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – because … the beautiful special edition hardcover

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – because … it is still in the bestseller list and I have almost bought it so many times

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard – because … (the next book in the Red Queen series) teenagers with superpowers + monarchy



Jordan Irving, Editorial Coordinator

This year I want to read:

These are all the books I have on reserve at the library which aren’t expect to arrive until 2018!

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss

My favourite holiday read is:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

The Ripley series by Patricia Highsmith

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters


Frances O’Brien, editor

This year I want to read:

Zanzibar Wife by Deborah Rodriguez – I want to read the Zanzibar Wife by Deborah Rodriguez. I read The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul  a few years ago and really enjoyed it so I am looking forward to seeing what her new book is like.

Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich – I am also looking forward to reading Janet Evanovich’s new book Hardcore Twenty-Four, I absolutely love the Stephanie Plum novels and always devour them.


What are you planning to read during the summer break and in 2018?

The top blog posts of 2017

It has been a big year on the Oxford Australia blog, covering all things education and English language. We’ve seen ‘Kwaussie’ emerge as the Australian Word of the Year, and learnt that Aussie kids are talking about ‘equality’. We’ve explored approaches to maths and literacy, and the continuing relevance of atlases in Australian classrooms.

To mark the end of 2017 and what we’re hoping will be another dynamic year in 2018, we’ve put together a list of our most popular blog posts for the year

1. Finding new Australian words

It’s a year since we celebrated the launch of the new Australian National Dictionary, with its 16,000 Australian words and meanings. Since then we have not been taking it easy and neither has Australian English—we began collecting new words even as we sent off the manuscript to the publisher. We now have more than 300 items worthy of further research.

Our list is deliberately inclusive since we can’t know which terms will prove to be stayers. A number are new or recent coinages that just missed our editorial deadline; others are older terms we rejected as having too little evidence, but now look more established; some are speculative; and some simply flew under our radar. Here is a sample of the terms under consideration as future entries.

2. Moving mathematics learning from “what have I been told?” to “what do I know that can help me?”

There is widespread agreement that student-driven inquiry approaches can help students build understanding, solve problems and reason mathematically. But to ensure that all students are included in learning opportunities, specific teacher actions are needed and lessons can productively be structured in particular ways. These actions include the following:

  • Posing tasks which are mathematically rich, which most students do not already know how to solve, and which require students to make decisions on the solution type and approach.
  • Allowing students time to engage with the task. Perhaps the major difference between students is not their so-called ability but the time they need to engage with the ideas.

3. Australian Word of the Year 2017: Kwaussie

Kwassie has been named Australian Word of the Year 2017!

Kwaussie: ‘a person who is a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand; a New Zealander living in Australia; a person of Australian and New Zealand descent’.

The Australian National Dictionary Centre, based at The Australian National University, selected Kwaussie, a blend of Kiwi and Aussie, as the most interesting term associated with the dual citizenship crisis engulfing the Australian Parliament in 2017.

4. Bogans are not what they used to be, according to the latest dictionary update

If you thought you knew the definition of a bogan, think again.

Language is a continuously changing landscape, in which new words appear, others fade out of general usage and some evolve and take on different meanings.

Bogan is one of the evolving terms that attracted the attention of the team at the Australian National Dictionary Centre, which is responsible for editing the 6th edition of the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary (ACOD), released this week.

5. OUP staff select their top 5 books of all time

To mark the Australian Reading Hour on September 14, we asked some Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand staff to list their top five reads of all time.

Do you agree with their selections? What books are in your top five?

6. Phonics is not a dirty word

Phonics is a word that is often misused, misunderstood and abused. Despite what some might argue, it is a method of learning that has much to offer Australian children.

I am often asked why it is so important to teach children phonics, as opposed to learning words through prediction or as a whole word.

Sound is critical in the process of learning to read. Children need to hear, distinguish, isolate, rhyme and articulate sounds and words. Once they are aware of these sounds, they can ready the neural pathways in their brain for learning the connection between letters and sounds. This is the single most critical factor in learning to read.

7. “Donoghue Day” wins Oxford Connecting with Law Short Film Competition

The Connecting with Law Short Film Competition is an annual event run by Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand. It is open to all students enrolled in an Australian law degree and has proven itself to be unique way of encouraging law students to connect with their field of study and contribute to legal education.

For the Tenth Anniversary of the competition, students were invited to make a two-to-five-minute film exploring the theme, ‘Groundbreakers: people, cases or judgements that have changed the shape of Australian law.’ The winning entry was judged to be the most imaginative, instructive and original, with the team demonstrating an ability to reflect creatively on the theme.

8. “Equality” named Oxford Children’s Word of the Year

After countless hours reviewing hundreds of entries, Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand has announced its 2017 Children’s Word of the Year: equality.

The word is a result of an Australia-wide writing competition in which students from Grade Prep to Grade 6 submitted a piece of free writing up to 500 words based on a chosen word. The writing could be creative or factual, funny or serious.

A judging panel, consisting of academics and experts in children’s English language, evaluated competition entries based on a word’s popularity, use of the word in context, and frequency, to determine the Australian Children’s Word of the Year.

9. Help us find the Australian Children’s Word of the Year

Do your students talk Trump or Turnbull, fidget spinners or footy cards? Oxford University Press want to learn more about the way children communicate, and to help us do this we are launching the Children’s Word of the Year free writing competition.

Primary school-aged children are invited to nominate their ‘Word of the Year’ and submit a 500 piece of free writing based on that word. The piece can be creative or factual, funny or serious – it’s up to the student.

10. Consistency and community key to Indigenous literacy: Q&A with Shirley Davey

Literacy is a community affair in the Top End, according to Literacy and Numeracy Trainer Shirley Davey.  In the remote areas where Shirley works, students, families, teachers and trainers are working together to bring the benefits of literacy and numeracy.

We asked Shirley about her experience working in Indigenous literacy.

 

 

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is ‘youthquake’

Oxford Dictionaries today announced its 2017 Word of the Year: ‘youthquake’.

Youthquake is defined as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’.

The word was selected from a shortlist using data collated by Oxford Dictionaries editors, which revealed a fivefold increase in usage of youthquake in 2017 compared to 2016.

The word first struck in a big way in June with the UK’s general election at its epicentre.

On 18 April, Prime Minister Theresa May, leader of the Conservatives, called a snap election triggering seven weeks of intense political campaigning. After the British public went to the polls on 8 June, headlines emerged of an unexpected insurgence of young voters.

So despite higher engagement figures among the baby boomer generation and despite Labour ultimately ending up with fewer seats than the Conservatives in the House of Commons, many commentators declared that ‘It was the young wot “won” it for Jeremy Corbyn’, and dubbed their collective actions a ‘youthquake’.

It was in September that the second, and largest, spike in usage of youthquake was recorded for the year – and a youthquake wasn’t even required to deliver this data.

Thanks to the precedent established in the UK, in New Zealand use of youthquake to discuss young people’s engagement in politics was rapidly picked up by politicians and the press alike during the country’s general election. The word enjoyed increased and sustained usage both prior to and after the polling, setting youthquake firmly on its way to become a fixture of political discourse.

The term was coined when, in 1965, emerging from a post-war period of tumultuous change, Diana Vreeland, editor-in-chief of Vogue, declared the year of the youthquake.

In an editorial in the Vogue US January edition that year, she wrote: ‘The year’s in its youth, the youth in its year. … More dreamers. More doers. Here. Now. Youthquake 1965.’

Oxford Dictionaries President Casper Grathwohl said that while youthquake had not yet made an impression in the US, evidence showed that it certainly had made an impression in the UK.

“We chose youthquake based on its evidence and linguistic interest. But most importantly for me, at a time when our language is reflecting our deep unrest and exhausted nerves, it is a rare political word that sounds a hopeful note.”

Youthquake was selected from the shortlist below.

Shortlist graphic Final

Find more about youthquake at Oxford Dictionaries.

 

 

 

 

The greatest words Churchill never uttered

During World War II, when it was suggested that funding for the arts should be cut, Winston Churchill had other ideas.

“What are we fighting for then?”

The words say so much about the importance of the arts in our society, and in the value in knowing what you are fighting for.

But unfortunately, Churchill never uttered them. He might have said something similar, and, if you tried, you could see that he meant something like the quote, but you’ll have to squint.

In 1941 when the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations was first published, it all seemed much simpler. At the time, it was taken for granted that a quotation was a familiar line from a great poet or a famous figure in history, and the source could easily be found in standard literary works or history books.

In the era of fake news and alternative facts, it is increasingly hard to know what to believe, particularly when misquotes can spread at the speed that social media and 24-hour news sources allow.

In addition, it can be difficult to question the accuracy of a particular quote when we really, really want it to have been what our heroes said; it is comforting and reassuring to know that individuals of power and prestige have expressed opinions that align with our own, and one well-expressed line can have more impact than any scholarly essay or detailed speech. And so, we republish their words on our own social media accounts and blogs, validating our own beliefs and interests.

I was thrilled and moved when I heard that CS Lewis had said,

“We read to know that we’re not alone”,

Here was the great writer, putting into words something I had always felt, but never articulated. I felt a sense of kinship with the great CS Lewis. I understood him, and somehow, he understood me. We both held books as providing a kind of comfort and companionship.

However, kindred spirits we were not. It turned out the words had not a flash of truth and brilliance conceived by CS Lewis, but the line was actually given to his character in the film Shadowlands, and so the credit for it should really be given to the screenwriter William Nicholson.

It is not hard to see how these misquotes can take hold, as unfortunately, sometimes the misquote is mightier than the more accurate version.

In the case of Churchill’s quote, he did speak in support of the arts at more length than the more famous misquote, including saying,

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them. The country possesses in the Royal Academy an institution of wealth and power for the purpose of encouraging the arts of painting and sculpture…”

And so, the powerful and succinct  misquotes are spread far and wide across the digital sphere, becoming synonymous with those who never uttered those particular words. Here, they are used to support argument and debate, strengthening a viewpoint with the weight of the words of a historical statesman.

However, while the internet might make it easier for misquotes (as well as other types of misinformation) to spread, through retweets, shares and even publication by fast-moving, 24-hour news services, technology has not had an entirely detrimental impact on the reliability of quotations. In some ways, it has made direct quotes much easier to source.

Words that might have seemed impossible coming from a US President are easy to trace to their origin through Twitter. While in the past, political leaders might have claimed they never said such a thing, criticising the height and girth of another world leader, the evidence is conclusive. And when phones can be used to record the words of public figures, and celebrities, the evidence is irrefutable.

An individual’s words can tell a powerful story about who they are and what they believe. They can help us form our own opinions, reinforcing prejudices or opening minds. But before we gleefully proclaim our favourite past prime minister made a critical point about the arts for us decades ago, it is useful to check the sources. Those words might be convincing, eloquent and erudite, but the might not have been his at all.

By Fleur Morrison, Marketing and Communications Advisor, OUP Australia

The Little Oxford Gift Box

A Christmas favourite, The Little Oxford Gift Box features the popular Little Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs and Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

Kwaussie in conversation

The Australian Word of the Year 2017 has attracted plenty of attention, from those who are celebrating the merging of the Kiwi and the Aussie, to those who are surprised by its selection.

Kwaussie, defined as a person who is a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand; a New Zealander living in Australia; a person of Australian and New Zealand descent, was selected by the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the Australian National University from a shortlist of words that reflect the  significant events of 2017 that shaped the Australian political, cultural and social landscape this year.

However, if you want to know more about the word and its origins, here is Australian National Dictionary Centre Director Amanda Laugesen speaking on the ABC today.

ABC Hobart (Mornings with Leon Compton)

ABC Radio National (with Fran Kelly)

ABC Radio Canberra (with Dan  Bourchier)

Have your say on whether Kwaussie is the best choice for Australia’s Word of the Year.

 

Australian Word of the Year 2017: Kwaussie

Kwassie has been named Australian Word of the Year 2017!

Kwaussie: ‘a person who is a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand; a New Zealander living in Australia; a person of Australian and New Zealand descent’.

The Australian National Dictionary Centre, based at The Australian National University, selected Kwaussie, a blend of Kiwi and Aussie, as the most interesting term associated with the dual citizenship crisis engulfing the Australian Parliament in 2017.

It was used to describe the most high-profile casualty of the crisis, Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Barnaby Joyce. He revealed to parliament in August that, despite being born and bred in country New South Wales, he was also a New Zealander by descent. The first evidence is found in a 2002 New Zealand newspaper article discussing Russell Crowe: he is described as a ‘Kwaussie (what you get when you cross a Kiwi who can’t decide whether they’re a Kiwi or an Aussie’).

Subsequent evidence suggests its use is predominantly Australian, and is found chiefly in social media (and also found with spelling variants including kwozzie and kwozzy). Thanks to the two kwaussies identified as ineligible to sit in parliament, Barnaby Joyce and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, the term is now becoming better known.

Kwaussie was chosen from a shortlist which included makarrata, jumper punch, postal survey, robodebt and WAXit.

The 2017 Word of the Year  shortlisted words are selected by the editorial staff of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, who with Oxford University Press publishes the Australian National Dictionary of words and phrases unique to Australia.

The Australian National Dictionary Centre undertakes research into Australian English in partnership with Oxford University Press, and edits Australian dictionaries for Oxford University Press.

The Word of the Year is based on extensive research as well as public suggestions. Vote for your 2017 Australian Word of the Year:

 

View the previous Words of the Year on the ANDC blog page:

2016 – democracy sausage
2015 – sharing economy

2014 – shirtfront
2013 – bitcoin
2012 – green-on-blue

Oxford Word of the Month: December – John Farnham

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noun: used allusively of a comeback or reappearance, especially after a final performance or retirement.

THE STORY BEHIND THE WORD OF THE MONTH

John Farnham (‘Johnny’ in his early days) is a hugely successful Australian contemporary pop singer. His professional career spans fifty years from the 1960s until the present, and his 1986 album Whispering Jack remains the highest-selling album in Australia. With ‘The Last Time’ tour (2002–2003) he announced his intention to stop touring nationally, but he has made several comeback tours since then. Indeed, his love of touring has made his name a byword for an inability to remain in retirement:

She said she wouldn’t but Suzi Quatro has done a John Farnham, booking an encore tour two years after her farewell tour of Australia. The leather-clad legend … gets the joke when asked if she was ‘doing a Farnsie’. (Townsville Bulletin, 28 September 2016)

The Farnham habit is not restricted to the music business:

Some call it persistence and tenacity. My daughter describes it as a Johnny Farnham comeback. I call it standing up and fighting for what you believe in, and not allowing the bastards to grind you down. (Pauline Hanson on her return to political life, maiden speech to the Senate, 14 September 2016)

And there are a number of variations on the theme. You can find evidence for do a Farnham, pull a Farnham, chuck a Farnsie, and have more comebacks (or farewells) than John Farnham. The Johnny Farnham comeback tour is the name of a cycle ride on a social network site for athletes (Strava, 23 April 2017), and the phrase was also used to describe a Question Time tactic in the Australian parliament:

By yesterday, awkward segues to Dastyari were looking a little tired; today they felt like a John Farnham comeback tour. (The Monthly, 14 September 2016)

The use of Farnham’s name in this way harks back to another Australian singer renowned for comebacks: Dame Nellie Melba, the world-famous operatic soprano. She staged a number of ‘farewell’ concerts in the 1920s, with her last in 1930, the year before she died. Her name lives on in phrases that date from the 1940s and are still in use today: to do a Melba and more farewells than Melba. However, in the comeback context, John Farnham is now giving Dame Nellie a run for her money.

The allusive use of John Farnham and variants on the name will be considered for future inclusion in the Australian National Dictionary.

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