Susie Dunn – When i use a word…

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susie dunn

“When I use a word”, Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, “it means just what I choose it to mean …”

Does it matter how we use words? For example, do we live in The New England or New England?  As a friend – grinding her teeth – said, “We don’t say that we’re going to The England, do we?”

Which reminds me of that very-big-little made-up word “Brexit”, which is shaking world history. Lately the word “election” has come to hold more resonance than usual for us, wherever we live. This is not a political column, so I’ll stick to discussing words and their meanings e.g. the word “launch” seems to have altered, as it now comes at the end of a campaign instead of at the beginning. And a policy “announcement” is released before it is made. Oh, Alice … Then of course, there was when “cool” became “hot” – or vice-versa – I forget …

Then there’s the “Pre-Spring” fashion – would that be Winter? And the “Vegan Butcher” I saw in Sydney. Oh, and “glamping” is now in the OED – a tourism business I often wonder about for here. And you may have picked up that “quirky” is a word that often points to my interests.

The Eighties word “Foodie” sounds derisory now. “Innovation” in the digital world, according to Tim Rayner of UTS, means “entrepreneurship, self-organising teams, fast ideas and cheap customer experiments”, rather than invention and careful – probably slow – development.

A serious discussion can be had over using the word “indigenous”. Many Aboriginal people I know don’t like its use, as it can arguably stretch to those generationally born here, (e.g. like me?) Margaret Walford prefers “Aboriginal”- from the original – and she has told the Governor-General so. I rather agree with her.

One “scientifically justifiable” but “typo” word in a proof of a Melbourne University paper on increased Australian temperatures set off a storm among climate sceptics that resulted in a four-year delay in publication and checking, but ended with the original conclusion.

Political and economic times in the world are currently undergoing “seismic” change. When times are changing, that’s when opportunities arise, I was always told. In this region we need to use our words better to both sell ourselves and to maximise the strength of our position. Using our conspicuous advantages and differences to the full is surely the way to go. Presenting ourselves “energetically” with “infectious” enthusiasm – can help market us. And telling some of our quirkier stories doesn’t go amiss.

The launch of the new Fly Corporate air service to Brisbane is a step in the right direction, but of course we need to use all our Qantas and Rex services to Sydney, as well as welcoming the new Brisbane opportunities. They are all only “viable” if we give them our custom.

The Armidale Business Chamber and the UNE Business School together report that more than half local businesses are “holding steady” or growing and that key challenges are around transport, labour and access to like-minded business people. Drawing people together, talking and collaborating strengthens impact. “Collaborator” was a word with unfortunate implications in WW II – now it seems vital.

Dr. Ian Tiley, Administrator of the Armidale Regional Council, is certainly taking his job by the scruff of the neck and sees the “arts” as a vital ingredient of local culture, well-being and identity. Watch this space!

Olympic” is a word with new local meanings, as Georgina Morgan, Hockeyroo, and Katie Kelly, paralympian triathlete, compete in the Rio games. It is fitting that these mountain girls are competing in the games first held as early as 776BC and called Olympic after Mount Olympus, fabled home of the Greek gods. Go girls!

Lastly, Dr. Suzanne Robertson has been bringing the symbolism of the word “Vegemite” to our overseas students. Words are important!

And with everything that’s happening in the world, “balance” sounds like a good word to me. “Optimism” should be a prime ingredient in the work of icing our particular cake.

Susie Dunn.

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