‘Proper’ Australian English is under assault. Textspeak and encroaching Americanisms suggest young Aussies have little regard for the rules. Or do they? As young people shrug off the classist shroud of ‘good grammar’, they’re far more likely to care about not causing offence than being correct. Join facilitator professor of linguistics, Nick Enfield, writer Stephen Dando-Collins, journalist and linguist Christine Kenneally, and the ABC’s language researcher, Tiger Webb, as they ask whether the fixation on respectful language is just a passing fad.

Tiger Webb (Australian)

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Tiger Webb is a broadcaster, photographer, and an unusual name possessor. A year four report card once described Tiger Webb as ‘gregarious’, a word he didn't understand and had to look up. This possibly sparked his lifelong interest in language and linguistics, but then again maybe it didn't. He is a digital producer at ABC RN, and a researcher for ABC Language, the ABC’s in-house committee on language use, pronunciation and style.


Stephen Dando-Collins (Australian)

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With his 40th book published in 2017, Stephen Dando-Collins is an award-winning author and biographer whose fiction and nonfiction titles range across Roman, Greek, British, Australian and American history, with many published in numerous languages worldwide. He has also written children's novels.

Christine Kenneally (Australian)

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Christine Kenneally is an award-winning journalist and author who has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, New Scientist, The Monthly and other publications. She is the author of The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures and The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. She is currently writing for BuzzFeed News.

Nick Enfield (Australian)

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Nick Enfield is professor of linguistics at the University of Sydney and director of the Sydney Social Science and Humanities Advanced Research Centre. He is head of a Research Excellence Initiative on The Crisis of Post-Truth Discourse. His research on language, culture, cognition and social life is based on long term field work in mainland Southeast Asia, especially Laos. His recent books include Natural Causes of Language, The Utility of Meaning, Distributed Agency, and How We Talk.