Canberra Bashing Comes of Age

I must admit to never having heard the word Canberra Bashing. I am a little ashamed of this, given my Australian wife and reasonable lengths of time spent in the country as a result. But no matter.

Canberra Bashing has been added to the Australian National Dictionary. This publication catalogues words which are quintessentially Australian and say something about the history and culture of the country, and lexicographers feel that Canberra Bashing is a term which fits the bill.

The word has two meanings: one is the act of criticising the Australian federal government and its beaurocracy, giving it a more generic meaning of knocking authority; the other is the more parochial act of criticising the city of Canberra and its inhabitants. I have been to the Australian capital once in my life and, as I recall, l was probably guilty of Canberra bashing on my return, albeit that I didn’t know there was a handy word which to describe it.

This is clearly an Australian word, with local resonance, so it is virtually certain that it will not become a part of vocabulary in the wider English-speaking word. However, it would be nice to think that bashing could start to take on suffix duties in the manner of a -gate or a -leaks. Imagine the bashing fun we could have by appending it to all manner of places and people who provoke our ire. It’s a whole new world of word formation which I am fully in favour of.

I also think that changes in Australian English really encapsulate the straight-talking nature of its people. A word localised to Canberra which has also just achieved official recognition by the Australian National Dictionary is the one used as a term for public servants. They are referred to as Pubes. It’s a great example of an apparently simple term which says so much about what people really think.

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