Sunday, January 13, 2008

Watch Your Language

Oh dear. Someone in the marketing department of the Victorian government has been using their thesaurus instead of their dictionary. Over the past few years, there have been a few TV ads encouraging people to move to country Victoria, particularly if they own a small business. The idea is to rejuvenate country areas by getting people to move there and start up businesses, buy property, send their kids to the local schools, etc. Great to see, and a good idea.

However, the latest ads (I saw one on TV tonight) have moved to trying to encourage people to move to Provincial Victoria. Firstly, Victoria is a state, so we don't have provinces. We have local government - councils and shires. And secondly, provincial is a strange word to use instead of rural or country. Who thought that one up? Because if you look in the dictionary, provincial as an adjective is defined as "an unsophisticated or uncultured person". (Australian Modern Oxford) Hmmm, not really the look they were going for? And look - there's website where we can all look at how to be "provincial" together. What was wrong with country and rural? Are they no longer trendy?


Tracey said...

Sorry, you're going to throw something at me by the end of this post! Because you suggested we go dictionary hopping, I just had a look at "province" in the Macquarie, and there are Australian uses for the word. There were two meanings particularly Australian, but one was historical -- "a designated region of Australia: the province of Australia Felix; the British province of South Australia". (And what is "Australia Felix" anyway. I can tell a longer dict session is in order.) The second meaning for "province" relates particularly to Victoria. It says: "(in Victoria) an electorate represented by two members of the Legislative Council". So there you go. (I wouldn't have known that.) But they do also allow "a country, territory, district, or region". Even so, I'm inclined to think that, as you suggest, they're just trying to be trendy. They probably overheard someone using it in the Paris end of Collins Street and thought it sounded good! You do find some interesting stuff in this dictionary. How can people live with just an online dictionary? I love leafing through my Macquarie!

Tracey said...

Ah, and "Australia Felix" is "the term applied by Australian explorer Thomas Mitchell to a region south of the Murray River (present-day Victoria". So it seems both provincial usages apply to Vic only. More and more interesting.

Sherryl said...

Your dictionary search kind of confirms what I thought originally - that it's not only a strange word to use, but also archaic (I mean, come on - Thomas Mitchell?).
Even if it is technically correct in one aspect of a definition, generally it's not a term that would make me think "Wow - must go and live in the *provinces*!!!"
You realise that all of these new words to describe country Victoria came from some PC person who thought "country" was belittling?

Tracey said...

Yeah, I got that. I think that kind of snobbery is funny. (That's why I referred to the Paris end -- I always think that's a pretentious allusion.) But perhaps it's that western suburb cynicism of all things proper. My husband says I have a chip on my shoulder about it -- that's when he starts teasing me about my pronunciation of "aliphant". And why I embrace my western suburbs accent so proudly. Call me a reverse snob if you like.

But, back to the point: I was just surprised when I hit the dictionary to find that it technically wasn't wrong, because I've never heard it before. I mean, even with the dictionary meaning in hand, I couldn't tell you where the provinces are exactly. Do all rural areas have two senators representing them? How many do urban areas have? Is there any sort of conformity? No idea. And, sadly, not interested enough to find out -- but a more advanced search may render the whole idea of provinces meaningless (even in the technical sense) to the ad campaign. I mean, really, it is anyway. If neither of us have ever heard of Victorian provinces in everyday use, chances are most other Victorians haven't either.

It's also the part of editing I love -- that I become ensconced in my dictionary and find out all manner of things I didn't know before. And perhaps I should go and find out how many senators sit in any area, but I'm on holidays! lol. Today, I'm going to write!