Shark bait to OMG: a fight to save Aussie English

Thu Mar 3, 2011 11:39am EST
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Australian author Hugh Lunn remembers a time when a red-haired man was called Bluey, a silly person was compared to a parrot and "mooning" over a woman was something romantic.

But Lunn now fears all local color is vanishing and the Australian language is dying, giving way to the "in your dreams" and "get real" of U.S. television and the internet.

"American television has basically taken over our lives," Lunn told Reuters.

"While we're getting their shows we're losing our language -- we never said '24/7,' 'OMG' and 'whatever.'"

In his fight to save the words and phrases of yore, such as when an Aussie bloke would stand back to let a lady walk in front of him and say "ladies case of snakes," Lunn has collected many unique Aussie-isms into a book, "Words Fail Me."

Recalling a time when television's role in life was smaller, Lunn takes readers on a nostalgic journey from the 1950s to the 1970s, when "the blower" was a phone and a bachelor might be described as a "man who never finds out how many faults he has."

A former wire and newspaper journalist, Lunn has written several non-fiction tales of life in Australia's northeastern Queensland state and his time as a correspondent covering the Vietnam War.

He says he learned early in his writing career that the secret to capturing somebody's character was not to describe how they looked, but what they said -- and how.   Continued...

<p>A race-goer cheers as jockey Gerald Mosse of France rides Americain to victory in the Melbourne Cup at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne November 2, 2010. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas</p>