“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” – James Thurber

About Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside AO QC is an Australian barrister who practices principally in commercial litigation, trade practises and administrative law. He is also a human rights and refugee advocate, and author. Julian stood as a candidate for the Greens in his local electorate of Kooyong in the 2019 federal election.

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A Bit About Words: How Words Change

The process of change in language includes the drift of meaning, the invention of new words, and the obsolescence of existing words.  It is interesting to survey a list of words once disparaged by the arbiters of language as “not proper English words”.  In... read more

Still More about Words: Glamour

There is no more glamorous city in Australia than Sydney.  Ask anyone who lives there.  It is the prestige place to live and work and have corporate headquarters.  This annoys Perth, where the gravitational pull of ferrous metal is ever growing.  Sydney is Tinsel-town... read more

A Bit More about Words: Soothsayer

“SOOTHSAYER. Beware the ides of March. CAESAR. What man is that? BRUTUS. A soothsayer you beware the ides of March. CAESAR. Set him before me let me see his face.” (Shakespeare Julius Caeser, Act I, sc. I) Brutus subsequently dismissed the man as “a dreamer”, but he... read more

A Bit about Words: Bloviating

Warren Harding (1865-1923) was a magnificent specimen of manhood, but is generally accounted one of the worst ever presidents of the United States of America (Donald Trump is pretty easily worse, but we know a lot more about him).  Harding’s impressive style, it... read more

A Bit About Words: Split Infinitives

The “rule” against splitting infinitives is one of most-remembered but least understood of all the rules in our language. Striving against the “rule” is made all the more difficult because it is taken so seriously by those who know the rule – because they... read more

A Bit About Words: Scrabble

Summer holidays open the way to all sorts of pastimes.  Scrabble is a favourite family game, and it now infests the internet in the form of a game called Words with Friends.  It is a seductive little app for the iPad which looks like Scrabble, but has its bonus... read more

Analogies

The Washington Post held a contest in which high school teachers sent in the “worst” analogies they’d encountered in grading their students’ papers.  Analogies, similes, metaphors…they just keep getting worse. Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black... read more

A Bit About Words: Punctuation

Punctuation holds only limited interest for most people, but it makes reading easier and it makes it easier to convey precisely the sense intended.  It has been defined as “The practice, action, or system of inserting points or other small marks into texts, in... read more

A Bit About Words: Dead

It is hard to imagine that we do not all fully understand the word dead. It may come as a surprise then to discover that the OED2 entry for dead occupies 14 columns in volume IV and comprises about 12,000 words.  Of course, that quantity is largely made up of... read more

A Bit About Words: Curry

[Every few months I write an article about language for the Victorian Bar News.  The piece is called A Bit About Words.  Many of the earlier articles have been published in WordWatching, (Scribe, 2004; revised and enlarged edition: Scribe 2013).  On this blog I will... read more

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