‘Language, Australian soldiers, and the First World War’, Honest History, 1 September 2014
The illustrated text of a lecture at Manning Clark House, Canberra, 21 July 2014, on the language experience of ordinary people caught up in war. The lecture was one in the Honest History series.
Studying language in the context of war can tell us a great deal about soldiers’ experiences; it can tell us something about attitudes to other people and communication between people (cross-cultural encounters); the role of interpreters, etc., remain under-researched; and it can also be insightful of remembrance and commemoration.
Dr Laugesen talks about slang, attitudes to slang, slang’s function for Australian soldiers, and the attitudes of people on the home front to slang. She goes on to look at the ways in which soldiers encountered foreign languages in war and some aspects of cross-cultural communication during World War I. She concludes by briefly looking at language and historical remembrance. She touches on the work of CJ Dennis and of the collectors of slang like GP Cuttriss, WH Downing and John Treloar. There are many examples of slang and of the experiences of soldiers with language.