Pronunciation of "death, dead"

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Tue Apr 29 21:24:58 UTC 2003

n a message dated 4/28/2003 4:59:30 PM Eastern Standard Time,
juengling_fritz at SALKEIZ.K12.OR.US writes:

<<  I did my dissertation on the formation and origins of southern hemisphere
varieties of English.  It was always fun to come across such anecdotes.  >>

While visiting Australia I called the math department of a university to
locate a Dr. Taylor, a family friend from the States.  The very nice person
who answered the phone said, "Oh, yes, Dr. Tyler."  "No, Dr. Taylor," I
corrected.  "Yes, Dr. Tyler," was the reply.  At that point I gave up and
decided the chances of the department having both a Dr. Taylor and a Dr.
Tyler were too small to worry about, so I said yes, that's the person I want
(and indeed it was).  Dr. Taylor told me that yes, the Australians do have a
way to distinguish "Taylor" from "Tyler" but he was unable to reproduce it.

<<So, the phrase 'fish and chips' is the shibboleth: feesh and cheeps in OZ
and fush and chups in NZ.>>

Is there an accepted theory as to why Australia is called "Oz"?  Noting the
juxtaposition of "NZ" and "OZ" in your post, and the way you capitalize "OZ",
I can't help wondering if "OZ" is an acronym for "Old Zealand" as opposed to
"New Zealand".

The following is from an on-line conversation with a couple of Australians
that I saved without copying names or e-addresses. One of the writers is
named Alan Crooke; I did not record any other names.  The etymology given
sounds too good to be true but needs to be reported.

         - James A. Landau

<<As far as I know, the Oz books do not mention Australia and the "Oz-tralia"
portmanteau is original with Mr. Crooke.

Not so, though I wish I had invented 'Oztralia'. There is a,
with which I have no connection. Search AltaVista with +Oz +Australia and you
will find many uses of 'Oz' by Ozlanders other than myself. Neither the
screenplay not the original book of 'The Wizard of Oz' (hereafter simply 'the
Wizard') makes any reference to Australia, agreed.

I am obliged to defend the honour (and, if you insist, the honor) of my
Crooke-d compatriot. We here in the true Land of Oz have (endonymously?) used
this particular toponym for decades.

The term may have gained currency following the notorious Oz trial of the
early 1970s, when expatriate Ozzie editor Richard Neville was prosecuted in
the Old Bailey for obscenity arising from his publication of the
countercultural journal 'Oz'. (His conviction and prison sentence were
quashed on appeal.)

The association of this absurd Aussie with an absurd trial over a mag named
after an absurd place seems to have stuck, and Australia's been Oz to us ever
since. >>

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