Shared lexical innovations in Australian and New Zealand English

Pam Peters, Adam Smith, Tobias Bernaisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper focuses on a set of 180 neologisms recorded in both Australian English (AusE) and New Zealand English (NZE) in order to examine their actual place and contexts of origin and to clarify the prevailing direction of transfer or "borrowing" in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most of these neologisms (90%) were recorded earlier in AusE, which provides a lexicographic answer to the linguistic question as to whether AusE could be regarded as a regional epicenter of linguistic influence within Australasia. The majority of the neologisms are informal words pertaining to social values shared by Australians and New Zealanders. They reflect their common pioneering history, socioeconomic development, and wartime experience, and they highlight the shared contexts that fostered the takeup of words coined in one country by the other. This prompts further questions on the usage of these neologisms in twenty-first century AusE and NZE and whether any asymmetries in their currency and productivity correlate with the source country. Data from the Australian and New Zealand segments of GloWbE (Global Corpus of Web-based English 2012) show that higher frequencies of usage and greater morphological productivity do tend to correlate with the country of origin. Evidently regional neologisms typically remain more vibrant in the discourse of the society and culture that first coined them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalDictionaries
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Keywords

  • neologisms
  • Australian English
  • New Zealand English
  • epicenter
  • asymmetry
  • productivity
  • sociocultural context

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