Bibelots

a place for the curious

Tag: Australian

Podlike: scrutiny in the house

bank of lights, tinted green

The harsh light of scrutiny

Housekeeping #4: scrutiny

I love a lot of what the folks at the Wheeler Centre do. While one of my unwritten rules for these articles is ‘one review per podcast show’, I’m going to let myself off the hook here. They just make too many types of shows. But the vastness of their work is what brings about gems like their latest mini-series, ‘Housekeeping’.

The Scrutiny episode of Housekeeping scratches at the surface of something that at first feels like it might be papery and dry.  Yet it somehow ends up in the middle of the digital era and leaves us surrounded by questions of privacy, individuality and public scrutiny. Like many of the best podcasts, it sets up our expectations and rapidly strips them away. With fascinating and beautiful speed.

Once you step out into the wilds of the internet, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.

I love it when any broadcaster or podcast show does a 3 or 5 parter, like Jarni Blakkarly & the Wheeler Centre have done. It’s a sweet, tangible serving to look forward to and it almost always leaves you wanting more.


 

Podlike: Paper radio & a prawn

The big prawn

a bank of lights

shining a light on the Paper Radio podcast

Paper Radio is an Aussie/NZ podcast. Their last podcast was end 2015, but more episodes are on the way. Paper Radio recently snuck back into my consciousness when they were made a Radiotopia Podquest semi-finalist. And for whatever reason, it seems that crayfish are everywhere right now too. So when Paper Radio came back into view, their big prawn story crawled right along with it.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and yet somehow that big prawn episode has always stayed with me. I thought that maybe the theme of big things would not carry overseas. But I discovered recently that Katia Pase’s tale was rebroadcast as part of an episode of The Truth (and on Radio Tonic).

There’s something timeless here. It’s not only the tale, but the way the tale has been edited and mixed. It sings and it stays with you. It left a haunting little place in my heart.

We could see the creature a mile away. Dad pulled in at the servo and I got out of the car and looked at the Big Prawn from across the road. It wasn’t pink at all. It was a faded white colour and it’s eyes were all googly and weird.

The big prawn is, for me, a story about searching for something you can’t really hope to find. And that’s a message that can be shared anywhere in the world.


 

Our dictionary

Have you ever heard an Australian say ‘our dictionary’ when talking about the Macquarie?

I think that’s partly because the Macquarie Dictionary is “Australia’s National dictionary”. But it also feels like it is ours. It has our slang, both old and new, and it captures the subtleties of Australian English. It’s also where we can find beautiful regional words and phrases, like three-corner jack.

All this is thanks to the hard work of the lexicographers and editors at the Macquarie. But it doesn’t stop there.

Baubles and word play

Recently, after a few too many hours editing and writing, I was troubling over of the definition of the word bauble. A lovely word, to be sure, but if you’ve stared at it too long it can – like any word – begin to befuddle you. I checked both the spelling and the meaning in the Macquarie and was quite surprised to find that it was not defined as a Christmas ornament.

After chatting with a couple of wonderful writers and looking in a few other dictionaries, we decided that the Macquarie might possibly be lacking something. I didn’t really believe that – I thought there must have been a system (read user) error.

One writer suggested I contact the Macquarie as she’d heard they are open to feedback.

So, I did.

I passed on our thoughts and our references. I couched it in terms of seeking their opinion. I’ll be honest: I expected no response.

And this is usually the where the story ends. In a dry, lonely corner of inattention. Yet another dull little ‘thank you’ auto-reply.

Not this time.

I heard back. I heard back quickly. And I heard back from the lady herself – Susan Butler, editor of the Australian Macquarie.

They listened. They welcomed our feedback. And here’s the big bit – they used it. With our information as the kick-off, their experts had prepared new entries and definitions.

The dictionary – our dictionary – will change. Next year, these new entries will go in when they upload all of the other updated words and listings in the online dictionary.

Would you like to see what will go in?

Too bad. No spoilers from me. You’ll have to wait.

Make it your own

As pleasantly surprised as I was, I shouldn’t have been.

The Macquarie has always been this way.

In the very first edition, a newsletter was included that encouraged contributions from dictionary users, as referenced in The Macquarie Dictionary, its History and its Editorial Practices.

The Australian Word Map has long been there to receive and discuss regionalisms. And if you have a brand new shiny word that you think should be in our dictionary, you can add a word yourself.

For me, this experience has been like manna from word-lover-heaven.

Next time you find yourself wondering at something in the Macquarie, don’t leave it at that. Question it, discuss it and send them your thoughts.

Our dictionary is our dictionary because, as always, it contains our words.

What more could you ask for?

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