Parents need better support to ensure the health and well-being of children

Parents play a more important role than any choice of school in the mental health, well-being and even earning potential of children.

That is the belief of Matthew Sanders, the founder of the hugely successful Triple-P (Positive Parenting Program). The program, developed at the University of Queensland, has helped millions of families with the help of more than 30 years of research, becoming one of the Australia’s greatest social science exports.

Dr Sanders will launch The Power of Positive Parenting book, celebrating three decades of the program’s development, at the University of Queensland on Wednesday, 7 February.

As part of the release of the book, Dr Sanders is urging the Australian government to take a population-wide approach to parenting to improve the future of families, describing an emphasis on parenting as a major public health initiative.

“Statewide availability of The University of Queensland-developed Triple P – Positive Parenting Program in Queensland is an example of a forward-thinking, community health approach that supports parents to promote positive outcomes for children across the state,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there is not enough of this kind of thinking when it comes to government spending. Too often, when evidence-based or non-evidence parenting services are offered, support is limited to the most vulnerable, those who have been identified and targeted by agencies as needing help.

“While well-meaning, such an approach will never shift rates of children’s early onset mental health issues or child maltreatment. A mindset that views parents as the problem, rather than part of the solution and singles them out for attention is only going to send parents away from the very support we are trying to give them.”

Dr Sanders is concerned that parents’ about the outsourcing in public policy of parents’ responsibilities – of schools charged with improving children’s resilience and mental health and of the medical profession to deal with the common and everyday issues parents face in raising children.

He said that the way children are parented profoundly affects their long-term health, their ability to learn, their mental well-being and how they get on with others. Ultimately, it can determine their likelihood of ending up in jail, taking drugs, becoming violent, or alternatively, participating meaningfully in society.

“Evidence-based parenting programs can help parents and children regulate their emotions and behaviour, using competently trained and supervised staff, or robustly evaluated online interventions. They have an active coaching component and allow for the practice of skills as part of their core curriculum.”

Rather than blaming parents for society’s problems, Dr Sanders believes we needed to start supporting them with a public health approach informed by evidence.

Find out more about The Power of Positive Parenting  or listen to Dr Sanders speak about parenting on Talking Lifestyle

Power of positive parenting

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 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.

Behind the scenes in the creation of an eye-catching textbook

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The design of Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice was a labour of love for the creative team behind the textbook.

Graphic designer Nina Heryanto conceived the striking illustrations on the book’s cover and its chapter opener spreads, which feature everyday consumer items, from toothpaste to chip packets.

In a testament to the quality of its design, Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice, written by marketing guru Professor Byron Sharp, is among the books to feature in the Australian Book Designers Association’s (ABDA) illustration showcase. The ABDA showcase series celebrates the best of Australian book design, with each focusing on a particular element, from illustration to photography.

Nina said the team at Oxford University Press had worked closely with the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, of which Dr Sharp is Director, to develop the textbook, ensuring its appearance reflected its high-quality, accessible and engaging text.

The designers started by developing a mood board to determine the look and feel of the book, then produced cover design concepts, from which a few were chosen for further developments and considerations by the rest of the team.

“A team of about six designers were involved in the project over two years, with some direction from the institute. We created a logo, which we used in illustrations of everyday products.

“The clean design of the logo set the tone for the rest of the book,” she said.

“It also reflects the emphasis on fast-moving consumer goods – everyday purchases and items that are familiar and accessible.”

The generous use of original illustrations, both on the cover of the book and on the chapter pages throughout, offered a rare opportunity for Nina and the design team.

“It was intense, but fun, and it’s quite rare to have the chance to create so many illustrations because it is so time-consuming. Illustrations really suited the subject, given that marketing is a creative industry.”

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Nina also took into consideration the audience for the textbook, which was aimed at first year university students.

“We wanted it to look sophisticated and accessible, but not childish or too upmarket.”

Nina has worked for Oxford University Press for the past four years, working at Pearson education after completing a graphic design degree.

She said that she continued to get a buzz out of holding the finished product in her hands.

“This book was a labour of love, not just for me but for everyone involved. It really was a team effort, from the publishers to the production controller.”

Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice by Byron Sharp

 

Tasting for the Queen, screw tops and the best summer wines with Jancis Robinson

One of the world’s leading wine critics, Jancis Robinson, visited Australia to sample some of Australia’s best drops and share her wisdom on all things wine.

Jancis has been one of the leading international voices in wine for more than 20 years, and among Jancis’ many accomplishments was being named a member of the Royal Household Wine Committee, which recommends bottles offered to guests at events at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. She also edited the Oxford Companion to Wine.

During her visit, she spoke to Clare Bowditch on the ABC Afternoons program. In case you missed the conversation, here are some of her pearls of wisdom, on everything from coping with tasting hundreds of wines a week and screw-on bottle tops.

How to choose a wine fit for the Queen

Jancis explained that a specially-selected committee meets about three times a year for a blind tasting session. It chooses on the basis of quality, rather than its origin or price. In fact, the prices for the wines included in the tasting have included tipples that cost just a fraction over $10.

“There is no such thing as a direct correlation between price and quality when it comes to wine,” Jancis said, with some wines overpriced and others underpriced.

Independent wine sellers or supermarkets?

Jancis likened wine shopping to book shopping, saying the best wines could be found at an independent store, where the buyer could talk to a knowledgeable staff member about their preferences. She said bigger retailers (at least in the UK) tended to focus on price, rather than quality.

“It’s [wine] a complicated subject – it’s no good saying it’s simple,” she said.

Screw top or cork?

Jancis was uncritical on the emergence of screw top wine bottles.

“I can understand why wine producers want to be sure that what they put in the bottle is what people drink,” she said.

Other benefits she named were the time saving nature of opening a screw top bottle, compared with a cork one. However, she also noticed a move towards using better-quality corks as a sign of handcrafting of wine by modern producers.

What are the best wines for summer?

Now that the weather has warmed up, everyone is wondering what is on the drinks menu. For Jancis, rose is the go-to wine for summer. She said while Australia has been quite slow to embrace “pink wine”, it was starting to become more popular.

She also said light reds including a gamay, Beaujolais or a slightly chilled pinot noir were well-suited to warm weather.

“Lighter bodied, refreshing lighter red wine is perfect for summer,” she sadi.

How much wine does a critic drink?

Some weeks, Jancis tests hundreds of different wines. How does she cope with the effects of all of this wine? By spitting. Jancis does not like drinking during the day, but tends to enjoy a glass or two at home with her husband every evening.

Jancis’ full interview is available on the ABC Melbourne website.

Improve your wine knowledge with The Oxford Companion to Wine.

 

Halloween word-play

Ghost

We all know the most commonly-used meaning of the noun ‘ghost’. According to Oxford Dictionaries, a ghost is ‘an apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image’.

But are you as familiar with the verb, used in a relationship sense? To ‘ghost’ someone is to end a personal relationship by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. That time you texted your new boyfriend several times and received no reply, ever? Or left numerous voicemail messages? You were ghosted.

Witch

When someone mentions a witch, most people think of the image of a woman with magic powers, wearing a black cloak and pointed hat, flying on a broomstick.

However, the word ‘witch’ can also be used as a verb. To ‘witch’ someone is to enchant them, often referring to a woman’s beauty ‘witching’ an admirer.

Used as a noun, ‘witch’ also refers to an edible North Atlantic flatfish, sometimes referred to as Torbay sole to broaden their culinary appeal. Apparently it is off-putting to order a grilled witch at the fish and chip shop.

Zombie

The zombies of movies are usually white-faced and vacant-eyed, described in Oxford Dictionaries as, “a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, especially in certain African and Caribbean religions”.

But zombies do not only appear in horror movies, and later in the viewer’s nightmares. They are also present in philosophy, described as, “a hypothetical being that responds to stimulus as a person would but that does not experience consciousness”.

An example of the usage of ‘zombie’ in philosophy is:  “So if the zombie hypothesis is correct, physicalism is false”, or “Nothing in the zombie theory explains why they act the way they do, unless we hypothesise the existence of unseen causes, demonic puppet masters, or the like.”

Other more recent meanings for zombie include:

  • a slow-witted person;
  • a cocktail, made with rum, liqueur, and fruit juice;
  • a computer controlled by another person without the owner’s knowledge; and
  • a zombie bank, which is insolvent but still able to operate due to government support.

Ghoul

Have you ever been described as a ‘ghoul’? Perhaps you should be. While a ghoul is most commonly considered to be, “an evil spirit or phantom, especially one supposed to rob graves and feed on dead bodies”, there is another category of ghoul that is more familiar in everyday life.

The term ‘ghoul’ can also be used to describe, “a person morbidly interested in death or disaster”.

If you routinely watch RPA (showing medical emergencies treated at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) or CSI, and count Wolf Creek and Saw as some of your favourite movies, you might be displaying some ghoulish tendencies.


More creepy word facts are available at Oxford Dictionaries, including:

Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

 

Finding new Australian words

By Julia Robinson, editor and researcher at the Australian National Dictionary Centre

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.

Familiar Australian words such as bush, koala, Anzac, and preference (the political sense) are the basis for newer terms: bush rave (a rave party in the bush); koala diplomacy (the loan or gift of koalas to another nation’s zoo, as a form of soft-power diplomacy); Anzac fatigue (what we feel after over-exposure to Anzac centenary commemoration); and preference harvesting (the flow of preferences to a micro-party or independent as a result of strategic preference deals).

We continue to coin terms related to politics. The double-dissolution federal election last year alerted us to the abbreviation double D, and the same election helped popularise the democracy sausage (the sausage sandwich you buy on election day at a polling booth sausage sizzle). The term sixty-sevener (a campaigner for the 1967 referendum) glances back in time; current concerns are reflected in quarry vision (our continuing fixation with coal as a major source of energy and revenue). A nickname for Greens politicians may be more ephemeral: tree tories (conservative on economic policy).

State-based terms are represented on our list, especially from Tasmania. Tassie tuxedo (a puffer jacket); turbo chook (the Tasmanian native hen, a flightless bird with a fast turn of speed); and flannelette curtain. If you live on the wrong side of the flannelette curtain in Hobart, you live in the poorer suburbs—the wrong (flannie-shirt wearing) side of town. Western Australia gives us white, a term for a western rock lobster that is a pale pinkish-white colour after moulting, and white run, the annual event in late spring when whites migrate in large groups to spawning grounds in deeper water. Branch-bombing (branch-stacking) also seems to be associated with the west.

The typical Australian habit of creating words with an ‘ie’ or ‘o’ ending is still going strong. Recent coinages include convo (conversation); deso (designated driver); devo (devastated); smashed avo (seasoned, mashed avocado on toast); reco (surgical reconstruction, as in knee reco); nettie (a netball player); parmi (parmigiana, as in the dish chicken parmi); and shoey (the act of drinking alcohol out of a shoe to celebrate a victory).

The word kangaroo continues to be productive in Australian English, contributing to kangatarian (a person who eats kangaroo meat but avoids other meat, on environmental grounds). The trend for using ‘roo’ as a suffix in the names of national sporting teams (Socceroos, Hockeyroos, etc.) continues with the Wheelaroos (our wheelchair rugby team). We have also found ‘roo’ in wazzaroo, a one-off coinage for a roadkill kangaroo (‘was a roo’).

Several well-known Australians contribute to our list. John Farnham’s fondness for farewell shows is celebrated in Johnny Farnham comeback and chuck a Farnsie (referring to a comeback, especially after a farewell performance or retirement). Rugby League player Trent Merrin’s private life is alluded to in doing a merrin (having a partner who is considered out of one’s league). The historical figure Ned Kelly still has a grip on our imagination. He gives his name this century to the Ned Kelly letterbox (a letterbox resembling Kelly’s armour, especially the helmet, where the eye opening is the mail slot). The expression Black Caviar odds (very short betting odds) honours the four-legged legend of the racetrack, Black Caviar, undefeated in all her starts.

Our concern for wildlife is apparent in the terms resnagging (putting old logs back into river systems to restore habitat for native fish) and pinky (a pink, hairless pouch young, especially a baby wombat or kangaroo). An orphaned pinky may be rescued from the pouch of a female killed on the road, and relocated by carers into the pouch of a surrogate mother. We have seen this described as pouch-surfing, a play on ‘couch-surfing’. An old term we’ve discovered recently for a baby mammal is platypup, a name for platypus young, first used in the 1940s with reference to the first platypus bred in captivity.

Finally, we have collected a number of new idioms, such as calm your farm (calm down, relax), a twenty-first century expression we share with New Zealand; and more new starts than Centrelink (referring to someone who has had more chances or opportunities than they may deserve). For variants on established Australian idioms, Mark Gwynn discusses some results from our social media campaign elsewhere in this issue.

A living language is never fully contained between hard covers. Even so, we have been surprised by the number of potential Australianisms we’ve identified in a short period of time. We hope to continue gathering new words at a similar rate over the course of the next twelve months as we move towards launching the Australian National Dictionary on the Internet.

 

 

Making the dictionary ‘fair dinkum’

By Mark Gwynn, Researcher and Editor at the Australian National Dictionary Centre, @ozworders

As a primary school student in the mid-1980s one of my favourite in-class activities was the ‘Dictionary Game’. My teacher, Mr Brenchley, would read out the definition of a word, and ask us to find the word that matched the definition in our dictionaries. There is one word that stands out in my memory, partly because I was the first to correctly guess it. Mr Brenchley read out the following definition: ‘false; pretended’, and gave us a clue that the word was also in the name of an Australian rock band (he always liked to add a bit of popular culture into the question). The answer was ‘pseudo’, and the band in the clue was of course Pseudo Echo. I can’t remember any of Pseudo Echo’s songs now, but as a lexicographer I’ve become familiar with the prefix pseudo-, and some of the words formed from it such as pseudonym. Back then, I also learnt from my dictionary that pseudo is derived from ancient Greek, as are many of the words in English beginning with ‘ps’. Dictionaries can teach us all kinds of information about words, language, and history, and Mr Brenchley introduced us to the riches of the dictionary.

If in the ‘Dictionary Game’ the question had been to guess what the words bludge, cooee, dinkum, or ute meant, we wouldn’t have been able to find them in our school dictionaries, because back in the early 1980s they contained almost no Australian words. The current edition of the Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus has several hundred Australian words and meanings. Learning about Australian English is essential to understanding how English is spoken and written in Australia, and underlines the importance of having Australian dictionaries. It’s not just the obvious words like bogan and tradie that are Australian, but particular senses of standard English words. For instance, in this dictionary paddock has two senses: an Australian sense defined as ‘an enclosed piece of land, usually part of a rural property’, and a British sense defined as ‘a small field where horses are kept’. These distinctions across the dictionary are fundamental for understanding the variety of English we use in Australia.

In the sixth edition of the Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus over 120 new words have been added, as well as a similar number of new senses, and many revisions have been made to existing entries. However, the addition of new material into a school dictionary is not necessarily the most important aspect of a new edition. As editor, it is my responsibility to make sure the core vocabulary that students need to be familiar with is up-to-date, and to provide guidance on usage. An interesting way of thinking about this core vocabulary is through the tool of a language corpus (a large set of texts that can be analysed for things such as word frequency and common word forms and grammatical features). The Oxford English Corpus, which we consult in our dictionary editing, contains over two billion words with just over a million of these representing lemmas (that is, the base form of word; jumps, jumping, and jumped are all example of the lemma jump). Amazingly only ten of these lemmas account for 25% of all the words in the Oxford English Corpus. These lemmas are: the, be, to, of, and, a, in, that, have, and I. The 100 most common lemmas account for 50% of the corpus; the 1000 most common lemmas account for 75% and so on. As my colleagues at Oxford Dictionaries succinctly put it: English consists of a small number of very common words, a larger number of intermediate ones, and then a long ‘tail’ of much rarer terms. It is these common and intermediate words that are the most important for students’ literacy education.

While new words like 3-D printing, crowdfunding, selfie, and skype have been added – and these additions are important to reflect our changing society – it is the updates to existing entries that form a substantial part of the editing process. For example, in this edition of the Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, a new sense of cloud has been added: ‘(in computing) a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet and used to store, manage, and process data in place of local servers or personal computers’. The dictionary also contains a large number of usage boxes that provide guidance and clarification for words that can present difficulties with pronunciation, spelling, grammar, or their use in Australia. These are kept up-to-date to reflect changing attitudes to language, but also contain cautionary information that provides guidance to students about words that may no longer be appropriate to use, or where there is some confusion about the use of a word in particular contexts (e.g. alternate vs alternative). We aim for the Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus to be an authoritative reference work for students to continue their journey of literacy learning and to discover the richness of English in Australia.

The Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus has been placed on the shortlist for the Educational Publishing Awards Australia, to be announced in September.

Schoolmate dictionary

Celebrating Father’s Day with the ‘dad joke’

It appears that dad jokes are having a moment. Some of the coolest fathers on the planet are airing their own dad jokes, and some decidedly less cool dads are following suit.

The dad joke is described by OxfordDictionaries.com as, ‘An unoriginal or unfunny joke of a type supposedly told by middle-aged or older men.’

In the lead up to Father’s Day on Sunday, September 3, we’re showing our appreciation of these fatherly funnies by taking inspiration from the trendsetters and some less well-known jokers.

Barack Obama and Ryan Reynolds are just two of the high-profile dads publicly displaying their proclivity for the dad joke.

At his final Thanksgiving celebration as President of the United States, Barack Obama famously took the opportunity to display his prowess with the dad joke. After saying that his daughters were not present because they couldn’t take his turkey-related puns anymore, he swiftly moved on to unleash a few of his best:

 “When somebody at your table tells you that you’ve been hogging all the side dishes, you can’t have anymore, I hope you respond with a creed that sums of the spirit of the hungry people: Yes we cran.”

and

“I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren’t so lucky, who didn’t get to ride the gravy train to freedom, who met their fate with courage and sacrifice and proved that they weren’t chicken.”

Ryan Reynolds also got in on the act, posting this one to Twitter:

“Went to Disneyland because my daughter’s obsessed with Mickey Mouse. She was so excited when I got home and told her.”

Once confined to the privacy of the home, dad jokes are now doing the rounds on Twitter, with less famous dads joining Obama and Reynolds to share their best.

Twitter’s @baddadjokes has a whopping 33,000 followers. Some of @baddadjokes’ best include:

“What’s the difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted.”

“What’s the leading cause of dry skin? Towels”

“RIP boiled water. You will be mist.”

If you want to give your dad some inspiration for his next dad joke this Father’s Day, consider the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotes.

This hilarious collection of humorous quotations, full of wisecracks and wit, snappy comments and inspired fantasy, has been specially compiled by the late British broadcaster and raconteur Ned Sherrin, with a foreword by satirist, Alistair Beaton.

Fathers will be able to find the best lines from their favourite jokesters and wordsmiths, hopefully improving their own repertoire.

Entries range from Russell Brand’s cutting remark,

“No wonder Bob Geldof is such an expert on famine. He’s been feeding off ‘I don’t like Mondays’ for 30 years.”

to Arnold Schwarzeneger’s quip that deciding to run for governor of California was:

“The most difficult decision I’ve ever made in my entire life, except for the one in 1978 when I decided to get a bikini wax.”

Long live the dad joke!

Humorous Quotations

Other Father’s Day gift ideas from Oxford University Press:

Holy ST       Companion to food      Beer

Sherlock       Wine

Move over, tennis mums, a new breed of tennis mom has arrived in the updated Oxford English Dictionary

You might remember the term tennis mum being used to describe women who returned to tennis after becoming mothers.

Now, tennis mom and tennis dad refer to parents who actively and enthusiastically support their child’s participation in the sport.

They are among the tennis-related, lifestyle, current affairs and educational terms included in the latest update of the Oxford English Dictionary.

More than 50 new words and 30 new senses related to tennis were added to the dictionary, after consultation with the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

They included bagel, tennis slang coined by player Eddie Dibbs in the 1970’s, referring to a score in a set of six games to love due to the similarity of the numeral 0 to the shape of a bagel. Superbrat is also a word which is used in contexts other than tennis, but was famously applied to the tennis player John McEnroe by the British press in response to outbursts on court.

Forced error is used to describe a mistake in play which is attributed to the sill of one’s opponent rather than the player’s own misjudgment, while chip and charge refers to an attacking style of play, in which the player approaches the net behind a sliced shot.

What else is new to the OED?

A new usage of thing was introduced in the dictionary update, used in questions conveying surprise or incredulity, such as ‘how can that be a thing?’ This has been traced back to an early episode of television series The West Wing.

The new sense of woke, meaning ‘alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice’ has also been included. Its use by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, and in particular the phrase ‘stay woke’ is thought to have introduced the word to a broader audience, especially on social media.

Old sayings have also been tweaked, with footless (as in, footless drunk, an alternative to the more familiar ‘legless’) and son of a bachelor (a euphemistic alternative to ‘son of a bitch’).

Oxford Dictionaries announced post-truth as its 2016 Word of the Year, and since then, the huge increase in its usage has given the lexicographers enough evidence to add it to the OED.

In the educational sphere, the OED update included MOOC, an acronym for massive open online course, which you might have spotted on your social media feed and wondered about its meaning.

A range of words for wedding veils were added to the dictionary, including a birdcage veil, blusher veil, cathedral veil and fingertip veil.

Another lifestyle addition was the Danish trend and culture reference hygge, defined as ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’.

Finally, ZYZZYVA, referring to a genus of tropical weevils native to South America and typically found on or near palm trees became the new ‘last word’ in the OED.

You can find all the new new word entries, sub-entries and senses on the OED website.

For more on Australian dictionaries, visit the Australian National Dictionary.