Bill Hayden's Interpretation Of The Word Mate

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“It’s like the mafia presenting you with a bunch of flowers.” This was how Bill Hayden, the 21st Governor-General of Australia, once described the word ‘mate’. His statement is testament to multitude of interpretations of the word ‘mate’. The term ‘mate’ is a quintessential Australian expression; its meaning and usage have changed and evolved over the past 100 years and have drastically shaped contemporary Australian society. As a result of the word ‘mate’ being used in a variety of ways this essay will focus its usage in a positive sense as a term of endearment or to present the bond of mateship between Australians. In a negative light the term ‘mate’ will be analysed when it is used in an ironic or aggressive sense. The origins of…show more content…
Using a word that is most commonly related to men when used to describe the Australian people creates an image of male-dominated society in the minds of both Australians and foreigners. Saunders comes to a similar conclusion in that she believes that “upholding mateship as the ideal dyad (has the) potential danger in the conception of exultant ‘armed brotherhoods’.” This may have been a possible reason for the proposed banning of the use of the word ‘mate’ in Parliament House in which “security guards at Canberra's Parliament House were banned from addressing members and senators as "mate" . The meaning and usage term ‘mate’ has changed over time it is now commonly viewed as a masculine term and it is used in and ironic or sometimes aggressive sense particularly by age groups of 30 years and…show more content…
Recent studies in the Australian Journal of Linguistics show evidence (see fig. 1) that young women of age 18-29 are “re-defining mate as representing fun and friendliness” . This in turn is gradually removing the masculine connotations the word is related to. Rendel-Short writes in ‘Mate as a term of address’ published in the Journal of Pragmatics, that younger women “interpret ‘mate’ as being a fun, friendly term of address, almost like a term of endearment, particularly useful for addressing their friends, male or female, of a similar age.” This change in the usage of the word is testament to the malleability of the English language as the definition of the word is changing to meet the evolving Australian society. It is also evidence of young women using everything at their disposal to gain power in society, Rendel-Short supports this in her statement that, “they are making more use of the symbolic resources of society, including language, to show their position and to gain access to power.” Young women are reinventing the world ‘mate’ to meet their societal

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