The Style Forum: Youse All Should Be Able to Speak Good!
Is TV the clearing house of the English language, the coiner of the new and the carer of the old? A “word nerd” panel, including legendary crossword guy David Astle, debate the pros and cons mass media and its influence on modern English.
The Style Council Centre is not as dusty and musty as it sounds. Yes, it builds databases and archives of spoken and written Australian English and conducts surveys on points of language where Aussies differ from the Poms and the Yanks… but being so positioned in the flux of cultural change also makes it a superb barometer of human behaviour. So, is the influence of mass media on our language making us myopic, superficial and obsessed with gossip? Or have we always been this way?
This debate was held at the annual Style Council Forum and chaired by the ABC Head of News Policy, Alan Sunderland.
Julian Burnside is a barrister, human rights and refugee advocate, and author.
David Astle has built a life around words, as a writer, puzzle-setter, and word master on SBS television’s Letters and Numbers.
Kate Burridge is a prominent Australian linguist specialising in the Germanic languages. Burridge currently occupies the Chair of Linguistics in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University.