How ‘slanguage’ helped form a new national identity

They called it ‘slanguage’. A unique language developed by soldiers on the front during World War One. It was a creative fusion of Australian slang, blue words and bits of French and other foreign phrases.

Classic pieces of Australiana, such as “digger” and “dugout”, were coined in the trenches. Slanguage even gave us the term “Aussie” – a word originally seen by some as downmarket and lower-class.

This collection of new terms and phrases described the new realities of modern warfare, and it became a fleeting publishing phenomenon. When one of the most famous Australian troop publications was created in 1918, it was called Aussie.

Aussie was highly successful, at home as well as abroad. Ten thousand copies of the first edition were produced; there were 100,000 copies by the third and the whole 13 issues were republished in a bound edition in 1920. Aussie magazine, slanguage and other mementos of trench life are showcased in a recently opened University of Melbourne exhibition.

Read more: Australian Geographic

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