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21 January 2004

A new book taking a light-hearted look at Australian phrases including off like a bride's nightie and verandah over the toyshop is being launched at Canberra's National Museum of Australia on Monday.

The third book in the popular Aussie English for Beginners series is part of Australia Day celebrations on 26 January including:

  • University of Tasmania sociologist Tim Phillips presenting the results of a national survey on how Australians see themselves and what it means to be unAustralian; and
  • ABC journalist George Negus talking with 2003 Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley about our national character.

'The National Museum of Australia is all about what it is to be Australian,' said acting Museum Director Craddock Morton. 'On January 26 we're inviting everyone who isn't flat out like a lizard drinking to join us as we celebrate the Australian vernacular, what it means to be Australian and our 2003 Australian of the Year.'

Aussie English for Beginners is a collaboration between the National Museum and the Australian National Dictionary Centre. The book includes illustrations by award-winning cartoonist David Pope.

'The words in this book demonstrate a kind of linguistic larrikinism - they show a delight in playing with language and a rebellious rejection of convention,' said Dr Bruce Moore, Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre.

The first two Aussie English books concentrated on single words, but the new edition specialises in phrases, ranging from carry on like a pork chop and give it a burl to fair suck of the sauce bottle and a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down.

Dr Moore said the book included phrases that stood the test of time. Doing a Bradbury was used to describe someone from came from behind to win a contest after Steven Bradbury skated to gold at the Salt Lake City Olympics, but the phrase has almost disappeared.

'Not happy Jan, from a series of advertisements for the Yellow Pages is proving more resilient and it will be interesting to see if some of the idioms from the ABC television series Kath and Kim last beyond the show, for example look at moy, look at moy! and it's noice, different, unusual,' Dr Moore said.

For interviews, images or more information please contact Leanda Coleman on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or

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