Apologies for the Z. The homogenisation of language.
American English. Australian English and British English. For most Australians we are pretty familiar with the differences. To most Poms or yanks it probably means nothing.
They are all different. Well derr I can hear you say.
First a bit of History. Being a young country and being invaded/settled by white fellas, we adopted customs and language from the motherland. This was an odd mix of working class English, Irish and Scottish. On a side note we also incorporated many aspects from Aboriginal culture including place and species names. For example Canberra our nation’s capital comes from the Ngunnawal language word of Kambera which means “meeting place”. There are other claims that it means “woman’s breasts” which signifies the two mountains which Canberra sits between. Personally I like the boobies theory.
Anyway our culture shifted from predominantly focusing on the British to the Americans after over 1 million American servicemen passed through Australia during WW2. This is substantial when you consider there were only around 7.5 million Aussies.
With them they brought their culture, language and beliefs.
Check out the first few episodes of The Pacific for an idea of the effect this had on young Australia.
A similar affect can be correlated to what is happening today with popular culture due to the effect of globalisation and the internet.
Australians are increasingly being exposed to American culture through movies, news and popular culture. With it comes spelling.
The bane of a modern high school English teacher’s existence in the land down under. Organisation (British/Aussie spelling) vs Organization (American Spelling). Centre vs Center and on and on.
Now some of these are due to the different evolution of the languages but others are just silly.
Old mate Noah Webster
Blame this man for the silliness. Old mate Noah Webster decided the Americans needed their own language so went about creating the first American English dictionary. He made up some words along the way including dropping u from Honour and other things.
Why does all this matter for a bloke who spends most of his time drawing comics?
Well remember that little thing called globalisation? It makes it harder to not only convey something using Australian English-and yes there is Australian English, but it also needs to problems of clarity.
For example: I’ve got a character who has worked a hard day. I could -and do, use “hard yakka” which is Australian English for hard work. It comes from the Brisbane Aboriginal language Turrubul. Say I use this, is any American or hell anyone other than an Aussie going to have any idea what I’m talking about?
My solution to this problem is context. I use as much Australian English as possible but try to provide enough clarity that the reader is clear what I’m saying. Fortunately comics enable you to do this through pictures. As illustrated in The Age recently it is culture worth nurturing and protecting.
Just to be clear I'm all for new words that enrich our language and am not anti-American, I just find it sad when a fantastic words such as g’day is replaced with the generic and utterly dreary “hi”.
Death to the Z. Long live the S and “mate”. You can keep “buddy”.