scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The good people at Australian National Dictionary Centre are attempting to right a historical wrong. It won’t be easy

The attempt at decolonising language is part of an ongoing process of reclamation and repatriation of languages the world over.

By: Editorial |
Updated: June 22, 2022 8:15:06 am
Phrases such as “loose unit” and “mad as a cut snake” are being bandied around and those like “story custodian” or “battler” are being rescued.

A team of experts at the Australian National Dictionary Centre in Canberra has been hard at work, poring over a database of words and phrases that have special significance for the country’s history, as they update their national dictionary. Phrases such as “loose unit” and “mad as a cut snake” are being bandied around and those like “story custodian” or “battler” are being rescued.

The attempt at decolonising language is part of an ongoing process of reclamation and repatriation of languages the world over. There is a unique ownership of English in countries such as India, Pakistan, or those in the Caribbean islands and the New World, that has resulted in a wealth of original literature acknowledged by international literary prizes. The lack of esteem once associated with pidgins — patois that developed out of interactions between colonisers and indigenous communities — is now on the wane.

At the heart of this process is an essential recognition of the fact that in its role as the stepping stone to identity and culture, language is the canvas for power play. It is language that acts as a currency of power — remoulding, reinforcing, subverting or invisibilising dialects till they moult beyond recognition. While early policies in Australia had dealt a death knell to many indigenous languages, linguistic biases often work insidiously, shaping tongues covertly over generations till they become a socialised phenomenon. In recognising and rescuing those communal experiences lost to time and policies, the good people at the Australian National Dictionary Centre are attempting to right a historical wrong. That may be hard yakka, hard work, but that’s defo gnarly — definitely awesome!

This editorial first appeared in the print edition on June 22, 2022 under the title ‘Rescuing words’.

Best of Express Premium
How Rampur, Azamgarh were won: Behind BJP chipping away of SP votesPremium
Rationalisation, reforms may test Centre-state relations at GST meetPremium
Clampdown and unclear policy prompt crypto exchange founders to leave IndiaPremium
Explained: What is the 2/3rds rule in anti-defection law?Premium

Express Subscription Do not hit the wall, subscribe for the best coverage out of India starting at just $5 per month

📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by indianexpress.com.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement