My writing textbook on page 446 says this:

Use local conventions regarding punctuation, spelling, and mechanics. Be aware that these conventions differ from place to place, even in the English speaking world. For instance, the Australian state of New South Wales uses a different dictionary for spelling than all the other Australian states.

I can't seem to find anything backing up the statement about the dictionary. The author does not appear to cite his source for this information.

In short, does New South Wales really use their own dictionary?

The textbook is Markel, Mike. Technical Communication. 10th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2012. Print.

  • I would never trust anything that used the nonword “punctuations”. Punctuation is a mass noun, not a count noun. – tchrist Oct 30 '12 at 3:04
  • Sorry, my mistake. It was not plural in the text. Fixed. – unitron6991 Oct 30 '12 at 3:36
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    @tchrist 'Punctuations' is fine in the context: "Different dialects of English use different punctuations." – Kris Oct 30 '12 at 4:10
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    @FumbleFingers You're being trigger-happy once again. The NSW government could enforce it by prescribing it for all local government use including the parliament, for all schools in the state, etc. etc. That said, I think that the idea is, if not simply dated, misleading. – coleopterist Oct 30 '12 at 4:27
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    @FumbleFingers It doesn't take government edicts to enforce differences in language usage. The US has different spelling and vocabularly than the UK, not because either government has laws prescribing prison sentences for people who don't follow the rules for constructing sentences, or capital punishment for people who do not use the required capitalization, but simply because different conventions have arison in the two places. I don't know about NSW, but it would not be startling if they had different spelling, etc, from other English-speaking places. – Jay Oct 30 '12 at 6:42

Whenever the term "official dictionary" is thrown around in Australia, it is usually in reference to the Macquarie dictionary which is considered the country's "national dictionary". The Macquarie was born in 1981 and continues to be based in Sydney, New South Wales. I suspect that the excerpt from the tenth edition of the book cited by the OP has not been updated since its first few editions; it is possible that the Macquarie was initially only prescribed in the state of NSW in the 1980s.

Both Oxford and Harper-Collins publish dictionaries for Australian English. While some terms can vary from state to state, spellings, as far as I know, do not. It is possible that in the early 1980s, the effects of spelling reform were still prevalent which could have led to inconsistencies. But I do not believe that any dictionaries bought into it.


The official Australian language is Strine - fair dinkum.
Dictionaries can be hard to come by.

References below, cobber:

Oxford dictionary Strine
Extract slightly abridged ...

  • Strine Pronunciation: /strʌɪn/
    Definition of Strine
    [mass noun]
    the English language as spoken by Australians; the Australian accent, especially when considered pronounced or uneducated:
    I found myself speaking Strine within minutes of arrival
    arriving in Sydney, he applied for a job thinking that copywriter was Strine for copy typist
    [count noun] an Australian:
    iced beer stops up the nose—that’s why you Strines talk so funny

Global Citizens - A guide to Strine

Small sample:

  • Ace! - Excellent! Very good!
    Ankle biter - small child
    Aussie battler - the ordinary working person.
    Back of Bourke - a very long way away
    Back of beyond - any remote, inaccessible and sparsely populated area
    Barbie - barbecue
    Barney - noisy fight or argument.
    Bewdy - great, fantastic
    Bikkie - biscuit
    Billabong - an ox-bow river or watering hole
    Billy - large tin can used to boil water over a campfire for tea
    Bludger - lazy person, somebody who always relies on other people to do things or lend him/her things
    Blue - fight
    Clobber - clothing or equipment.
    Dag - a funny person, nerd, goof
    Daks - trousers
    Damper - bread made from flour and water
    Fair dinkum - true, genuine
    Flake - shark's flesh
    Furphy - a lie, a fib

Urban Dictionary Strine

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    I'm an American, and I once wrote a couple of articles for an Australian science and nature magazine. They changed a number of my spellings and made a couple of grammatical changes to conform to Australian usage. I told my friends that it was my first foreign-language publication. :-) – Jay Oct 30 '12 at 6:46
  • If only you could tell how to pronounce Furphy. But seriously, there should be a one place where all this is set down officially, and maintained. – Kris Oct 30 '12 at 7:51
  • @Kris It rhymes with Murphy. – user16269 Oct 30 '12 at 7:56
  • But not limited to NSW. – Barrie England Oct 30 '12 at 7:58
  • @DavidWallace Thanks. Murphy doesn't have two consonants of one sound, though. – Kris Oct 30 '12 at 8:00

No, NSW does not use a different dictionary.

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