A koala drinks water from a bottle offered by a firefighter in Cuddle Creek, Australia, in December. Photo: AP
Lisa Lim
Opinion

Opinion

Language Matters by Lisa Lim

The Aboriginal origins of the word koala, the marsupial often incorrectly called a bear

The animal’s scientific name includes the Latin word cinerus, or ‘ash-coloured’, which has new poignancy given how many have died in Australia’s bush fires

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A koala drinks water from a bottle offered by a firefighter in Cuddle Creek, Australia, in December. Photo: AP
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Lisa Lim

Lisa Lim

Lisa Lim has worked in Singapore, Britain, Amsterdam and Sri Lanka, and until June 2018 was Associate Professor and Head of the School of English at the University of Hong Kong, where she still holds an Honorary position. She now is Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. She is co-editor of the journal Language Ecology, founder of the website linguisticminorities.hk, and co-author of Languages in Contact (Cambridge University Press, 2016).