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All the way…

By Ian Nance - posted Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Those of us who remember the era of our involvement in the Vietnam War would scarcely forget Prime Minister Harold Holt's fawning declamation to President Lyndon Johnson, "We're with you all the way, LBJ", as he sought to escalate our involvement in that campaign.

This kowtowing to United States influence not only underscored the cementing of diplomacy, but also seemed to firm up an existing adoption of American expressions.

For many years we had been going all the way towards adopting their phraseology, accent, and speech habits in a form of cultural subservience which overtook many Australian idioms and terminologies.


In song, here has always been a tendency to Americanise the way various words are uttered.

This may have been due to the enormous amount of popular entertainment coming from the good old U.S of A., but many a time I have winced in sadness as I hear Australian singers in particular, croon about "Mah lerv for you". These utterances are sometimes by Aboriginal performers, a group which owes no cultural allegiance to any other nation than the one to which they belong, unfortunately not always proudly.

There is also an increased ritualistic habit amongst many people of pronouncing the first person pronoun, "I", as "Ar". Why? Is it caution at the risk of pronouncing it "OI"?

As yet, we do not draw our water from the faucet, stroll down the sidewalk, fill our automobiles with gasoline, or put diapers on our babies. A peanut butter and jam sandwich is exactly that – not peanut butter and jelly.

Yes, we certainly do have our own distinct national terms and phrases which we have adopted from the mainly Anglo origins of our first white settlers.

Slang was an evident aspect of this early language growth, particularly rhyming slang. Also the ability to express ourselves in what has evolved into a particularly Aussie style which uses laconic, indirect comment to describe events.


Examples could be the description of a wind as "strong enough to blow a brown dog of his chain", or the answer to the question "Getting' any?" as: "Yeah – so much I've had to put a man on."

Why do we ape the American stylists? Is it because our own culture seems inadequate, leaving us feeling culturally inferior?

There is the undeniable fact that in comparison to the majority of Australian schoolkids, their American counterparts speak more fluently and cogently,

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About the Author

Ian Nance's media career began in radio drama production and news. He took up TV direction of news/current affairs, thence freelance television and film producing, directing and writing. He operated a program and commercial production company, later moving into advertising and marketing.

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