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Australia bans the word ‘mate’

Australia bans the word ‘mate’



GLM’S Language Police suggest these others: ‘No Worries’, ‘Down Under’, ‘Barbie’, etc.


San Diego, Calif. August 24, 2005. Last week, the Department of Parliamentary Services in Canberra, issued a general warning to its security staff banning the use of the word ‘mate’ in any dealings they might have with both members of the Parliament and the public. Almost immediately, Australian Prime Minister John Howard called the ban “absurd” while the Opposition labeled it “un-Australian”. The ban has since been rescinded.

In direct response, the Global Language Monitor polled its readers (and enquired of itsLanguage Police) to come up with further suggestions of slang words and informal language that might serve the public interest by being banned in Australia. Earlier today, as a service to the international linguistic ‘mateship’ or community, GLM released its List.

“We believe that if the Department of Parliamentary Services had a list of “Further Slang terms and Colloquialisms fit to be Avoided, Shunned, or Otherwise Banned,” these are the words that would populate such a List,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and the WordMan for the Global Language Monitor. “To make the List, words had to be innocuous in themselves, but in the context of Political Correctness, potentially offensive to some segment of the populace”.

Recently, the BBC’s use of the term ‘misguided criminals’ and ‘bombers’ when referring to the perpetrators of the recent London blasts stirred an international debate on politically correct language. The BBC used those words to replace the term ‘terrorist’, which according to the BBC can “carry emotional or value judgments”.

GLM’s List is an ongoing compilation; currently the list of words to be potentially banned with associated commentary follows:

Barbeque — The shortened form, barbie, can be an invidious reference to the Barbie doll, and hence sexist.

Abso-bloody-lutely — Though the term bloody can signify an intensive, this use could also heighten insensitivity to the plight of farm animals that animal rights activists have long warned against.

Down Under — Down Under signifies the existence of an Up Over, which obviously is in the superior position of Uppness. Might be taken as ignoring the very real consequences of the North/South global divisions.

G’day — G’day is the shortened form of ‘Good Day’. Some etymologists believe that good can be ultimately traced to an earlier word for God. Hence, G’day could represent a conspiracy to insinuate the theistic world view into everyday life.

Mate — From classmates at male boarding schools. Obviously sexist, also elitist.

Nappy — Diaper, might offend those who illegally download music to their hard drives, and narcoleptics.

No Worries — This is offensive to those with OCD, and others who are plagued by constant self-doubt and apprehension.

Plonk — Inexpensive wine (in the US it’s called ripple). Plonk is perhaps a contraction of vin blanc; this might offend francophones.

Ta — Thank you. In the spirit International Harmony, the French s’il vous plait is preferred.

Vegemite — A plot to foist upon a defenseless world, the supposed utopian ideal of what a meatless sandwich might be.

Zed — The letter Z. Not exactly slang, but a candidate for banishment nonetheless on general principles.

Nought — the number ‘zero’. If this caught on, the English-speaking world might finally have a name for the first decade of the 21st century: the Noughties.

To Read the Story from the Aussie perspective, CLICK HERE.