What is the language of Australia – by example

What is the language of Australia? Are we following OXFORD, WEBSTER or MACQUARIE diction?  And, what about a bit Wikipedia too being quoted to explain words not otherwise existing – maybe being invented?

Until Abbott, and particular reference is made to strict language requirements of the Howard era, we were clearly following the style guide to policy writing that favoured Macquarie.  The a recent Australian Government document named Green Army Programme Draft Statement of Requirements Consultation Process as issued 21 January 2014, and in opening statements says “The Department is releasing this draft Statement of Requirements for the Green Army Programme 2014–2017 for the purpose of obtaining feedback from stakeholders and potential tenderers about the operationalisation of the proposed Programme design, as described in the SOR.  By seeking feedback on the draft SOR, the Australian Government hopes to benefit from industry expertise and ensure that the SOR describes the best way of delivering the Programme.”

Note the repeated use of ‘programme’ (OXFORD) and the use of ‘operationalisation’ (WIKIPEDIA). Does this mean ‘real’ language is just what suits?

Or does it simply reflect we are not capable of original thinking today, we just select ‘off the shelf’ policies from elsewhere, language and all?

What is the mater of concern:

As a Noun: Program or Programme?

  • American English always uses program British English uses programme
  • Australian English recommends program for official usage.


Historically, ‘program’ is UK based language, until the 20th century when fashion came to the UK to adopt French flair and words, it was then when the spelling “programme” became more common — yes, the French managed to influence the English and the adopted the French word “programme”.


Therefore, assuming our ‘off the self’ policy is direct from England we should assume you can earn ‘brownie’ points by knowing how to use the noun programme and program correctly, examples:

  • We’re still drawing up the programme for the concert.
  • This computer program won’t run on my PC.
  • I missed my favourite television programme last night.


What about the Verb: To Program, Programmed, Programming?

Did you not know the word program is also a verb? Time to get a little different here as both American and British English use “to program” and not to programme. But wait we can still confuse you:

In American English it is valid to use –

  • programed
  • programing


In Oxford English, the far more widespread usage is –

  • programmed
  • programming


In Australia, is –

  • to program.

CO2Land org has a point to this: Just make sure you are consistent, and government should take note of this – lives can depend on it, as sure as a comma in the wrong place can be totally misunderstood. A good place to start is the government’s own style guide or a rule on which form of the word to use.



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