Review of The Dictionary of Australian Quotations, ed. Stephen Murray-Smith
In Australia we do not yet have a repertoire of familiar, even hackneyed, quotations comparable with those deriving from English literature and history. We might want to know the context of'I love a sunburnt country' (two stanzas are included in DAQ, though sunburnt is not in the index of keywords) or of Paterson's "vision splendid' (it's there) though usually our familiar quotations ('Life wasn't meant to be easy'—not in DAQ) are remembered with context until they are forgotten altogether. Some ('a pub with no beer', 'thirty-six faceless men', 'the Australian ugliness', 'Life be in it' (omitted—which suits me), 'the lucky country', 'such is life', 'they're a weird mob', 'Go for your life Lady Carruthers', (food) 'would kill a brown dog' (explained), even 'the man from Snowy River' are on the borderline between quotation and idiom and may claim entry both to DAQ and Wilkes' Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms. Occasionally it even comes as a surprise to find a familiar saying has a traceable source, as with 'Land rights for gay whales' or 'When you're dead you're dead all over' for example.
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Published 1 October 1984 in Volume 11 No. 4.