Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Word of the day

Today's word is negativish, which I believed that I had coined myself. Thank you to Katy for encouraging me to promote it. In fact, like many words which obviously need to exist, there are almost a thousand uses of this word - admittedly half of them Albanian - thrown up in a Google search already. Negativish means somewhat, rather, fairly, more or less, negative. It can be applied to an attitude or comment or action or work of art.

It is quite curious, however, that some users of the word insert a hyphen. Others put inverted commas around it. Or use italics. Why? I guess because they are uncertain that the word is right.

Use of the word can be illustrated -

"there's one negativish review (3 stars)"

"So why should a right to negative liberty be a negative right, i.e. a right that itself has something 'negativish' about it?"

"I have NOT got NO money" is about as "double negativish" as it gets."

And an Albanian example, where negativish has the same sense as negatively in English.
"Sidomos ka ndikuar negativish interview i Tom Cruise me Oprah Whinfrey ku Cruise eshte sjellur shume quditshem dhe si shkak tash perqeshet ..."

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Word of the Day

Today's word is guestblog, a verb and a runtogether. Actually, this post is only a peg on which to hang a reference to my latest guestblogging experience at the new Ex Libris Commentary blog, courtesy of Carl Grant.

In reality, although there are over a million guestblogger experiences recorded on the Web, hardly any of them use the word in its runtogether form. An occasional exception is Boing Boing, which actually has an archive of guestblogging.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Metaphor of the month

Everyone's favourite metaphor this week has been Senator Nick Xenophon's comment on the Government's new policy on carbon emissions. "If you give a lame duck a haircut, its still a lame duck", Senator Xenophon said in announcing that he would be opposing the Government's plans.

The Economist used a curious metaphor to describe Canberra, in a piece on Australia and China described Canberra as "a capital whose eerily empty streets and subterranean parliament suggests a Pyongyang without the dystopia."

And a third, from this morning's (Thursday) copy of The Australian. The front page headline is "PM's Robin Hood smokescreen." I guess that's two metaphors in a single headline - well done to the Australian. Commonwealth budgets and other hackneyed political routines are always rich mines of metaphors.

According to the Wikipedia, "Metaphor (from the Greek: μεταφορά - metaphora, meaning "transfer") is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects. In the simplest case, this takes the form: "The [first subject] is a [second subject]. ..." Interestingly, having looked that up via Google and then checked it on the Wikipedia site, I see that the current Wikipedia has moved on a little from that definition.

Readers of this blog may well wish to argue that one or more of the above metaphors are in fact some other form of speech. I welcome your comments.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


No, this is not a blog post about an ancient popular music TV show. It is a revisit of the establishment of this blog on March 4 in 2007, when it became part of my campaign to be elected to the ALIA Board. We will come full circle at the ALIA Annual General Meeting on 19 May, when my term is completed, and Jan Richards becomes President of ALIA, with Graham Black the new Vice President.

This blog may look as if it has become neglected and fallen on hard times. However, inspired by an invitation to contribute to Carl Grant's new Commentary blog for Ex Libris, I have decided to put some of the time saved by not being President of ALIA into this blog. Naturally, I have decided to draw on this time in advance.

In fact, the absence of this blog for the past two months was not caused by onerous ALIA duties, but by having taken on the task of giving three presentations and visiting two partner institutions in Hong Kong over Easter (8-18 April). This ended up taking a great deal of time.

But being in Hong Kong was great. Of course I met with the Hong Kong Library Association, the event wonderfully organised by Venia Mak and Jim Chang; nice too that ALIA has quite a few members in Hong Kong. It was good to visit the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, my host, a visit kindly organised by Steve O'Connor and Winifred Ho. It was also a great pleasure to catch up with Mike Robinson, formerly of RMIT and now of Hong Kong Institute of Education, and Anne Douglas, Hong Kong's Diane Costello. I also got to meet Swinburne's partners at the City University of Hong Kong in Kowloon, and at the Institute of Vocational Education's campus at Tsing Yi.

Next, the IFLA 2010 National Committee meeting on 11 May in Brisbane, and my last ALIA Board meeting, on 19 May in Canberra.