Австралийский английский: его история и особенности

XV Международный конкурс научно-исследовательских и творческих работ учащихся
Старт в науке

Австралийский английский: его история и особенности

Артемова А.А. 1
1МАОУ СОШ №27 г. Балаково Саратовской обл.
Рыжова В.В. 1
1МАОУ СОШ №27 г. Балаково
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Australia is one of the English-speaking countries in the world. It is attractive both for tourists and for those who want to find work abroad. Despite the similarity of Australian English (AusE) with British and American variants, it is not so easy to understand it.

Modern Australian English is a mixture of British and American variants that are wonderfully intertwined with each other. But at the same time, Australian English is an original version of the language with words and expressions that are understandable only to residents of the 5th continent.

Australian English has become the object of scientific research quite recently, and many questions remain open to this day. Therefore, the study of Australian English seems very topical. This determines the relevance of this work.

The aim of the work is to explore features of Australian English.

The aim set made it necessary to solve a number of specific tasks:

to consider the main English language versions,

to study the history of the formation of AusE,

to analyse the features of phonetic, grammatical and lexical aspects of AusE,

to identify the characteristic features of AusE.

CHAPTER 1. Australian English as one of the variants of the English language

1.1 Language variability. Different versions of the English language

Human language as a natural sign system has the ability to constantly change, or variation. Thus, the ability to speak and write, contained in each language, is realized differently in speech.

Variability can be found at all levels of speech communication. Variability is primarily inconsistencies in the form of linguistic signs that have the same meaning.In addition, it should be noted that different language variants can be used depending on social differences between native speakers and on differences in the conditions of speech communication.

General and particular problems of language variation have been studied for quite a long time, which allowed scientists to accumulate and generalize a huge practical material of many languages. Despite this, there is no generally accepted understanding of the term "variability" in modern linguistics.

In this paper, I will draw attention to the linguistic variability of the English language, which is expressed in a huge number of accents.

So, despite the fact that initially English was spoken only in England and in the south-east of Scotland, nowadays it is the national language of Great Britain, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and most of the population of Canada.

In the history of the spread of the English language, it is necessary to distinguish three periods:

1) early Middle Ages, when the influence of French and some other languages on English was quite significant;

2) the Renaissance and the years that followed, when English borrowed a large amount of vocabulary from classical languages and the work of a number of playwrights, primarily Shakespeare, significantly enriched it;

3) the end of the 20th century - the beginning of the 21st century. Since the 60s of the 20th century, the spread of the English language has become very wide [2].

Due to the increasing influence of the United States in the world in the second half of the XX century, English received the status of a global language, the language of intercultural communication. English has become the world's first universal language. English is the native language of 500 million people in 12 countries around the world. And another 600 million people speak English as a second language. And its use is growing at an amazing pace.

In addition, English has become a global language due to the need for a language of international communication for the needs of international trade, business, diplomacy, security, mass communication, cultural exchange and other areas of international cooperation. In general, approximately 1,500 million people speak English today.

The variants of the English language, according to the researchers, represent a lecture continuum consisting of several phases:

acrolect – a formal level of communication,

mesolect – an informal level of educated speakers,

basilect – a level peculiar to uneducated speakers.

These phases characterize the level of language use not in one individual, but in the whole society.

The accent is very important in the UK. It shows where a person comes from and to which class he belongs.

Due to the spread of the English language around the world, its variability has become inevitable. The English language is now represented by many variants, each of which differs, first of all, phonetically and, to a lesser extent, lexically and grammatically. Examples of language variants are: Indian English; Scottish English, Australian English, Canadian English, American English, etc.

In this paper, I will focus on the Australian version of the English language and conduct a comparative analysis of all levels of the language with the standard variants of the English language, which is studied in schools all around the world.

1.2 The history of the formation of the Australian English

Australia is a large highly developed country in the Southern hemisphere, occupying the territory of an entire continent. The population of the country is 25,301,400 people, and to a large extent it is concentrated along the eastern and south-eastern coasts.

Australia is one of the countries in the world where national identity has developed through the equality of cultures and languages of the peoples inhabiting it [1].

The name "Australia" (from Latin "southern land") was suggested by the explorer Matthew Flinders in 1804 to designate all the British colonies on the continent. For the first time the term "Australian variant" was registered in 1940. The date of birth of AusE as a national variant is considered to be 1987 [10, p. 17].

AusE appeared with the beginning of the colonization of the Australian continent by the British in the XVIII century. Colonization began in 1788, when the British founded the colony of New Wales on the mainland. At that time, the British authorities decided to send those convicted of serious crimes to another continent - to Australia. The exile of convicts to Australia lasted as long as 80 years [9].

In addition, in the 1850s, gold ore reserves were suddenly discovered in Australia. It was then that a flood of Britons who were looking for a better life poured into the mainland. Over the next 50 years, approximately 2% of the total British population moved to Australia. Thus, began the second wave of English language development in Australia. Illiterate English began to acquire a structure [9].

Australians are very proud of their version of English. They joke: “If there are several different accents in England, then we have only two – urban and Crocodile Dundee.”

However, it is worth a trip to different Australian cities, as it turns out that this joke is far from the truth. For example, it is possible to understand a Brisbane resident only if he speaks twice as slowly as usual, and the residents of Adelaide speak so slowly that even a beginner can understand them. There are no pronounced grammatical differences in dialects, and the differences in word usage are not so great. So, it is quite difficult to judge which district a particular person is from by the way he/she speaks [4].

People usually talk about three variants of the AusE:

cultivated, which is spoken by 10% of the population of the country with a higher socio-economic and educational status,

general, which is spoken by the majority of the population,

broad, which is spoken by a poorly educated part of the population.

Cultivated” is the closest one to the British version, and “broad” is the most different from it. The speech of people speaking Cultivated Australian is perceived as the speech of the educated population of the UK, while the Broad Australian is the opposite extreme and is spoken by about 30% of the population.

So, AusE is very diverse, it carries the features of both American and British variants. In addition, there are three different equal types of pronunciation, which is a criterion for determining social status.

CHAPTER 2. Peculiarities of phonetic, grammatical and lexical aspects of Australian English

2.1 Peculiarities of Australian English pronunciation

AusE has unique pronunciation and speech characteristics, which are a way of individual and social expression of the population. An Australian accent is a way to distance yourself from the people of the UK. The speech of Australians is considered rude, careless and difficult to understand.

AusE is implemented in the form of three types of pronunciation, which enable Australians to make linguistic choices in accordance with the requirements of the situation:

1 - Cultivated AusE (CAus) is closest to the British standard. It is usually associated with a higher level of education and vocational training, education in private schools and living in cities.

2 - General AusE (GenAus) – is in the middle between vernacular pronunciation and normative; has no pronounced features. This type can be heard on radio, television, cinema, theaters, in speeches of politicians, in everyday life.

3 - Broad AusE (BrAus) - colloquial pronunciation, purely Australian accent. This pronunciation is mainly used by men and is typical not only for rural areas, but is now also found in cities.

In addition, it should be mentioned that in colloquial speech AusE is called Strine English, which in turn is a reflection of the features of the vernacular pronouncing type. Strine is a type of pronunciation characterized by distortion of sounds and shortening of syllables. For example, money (Monday), tan cancel (town council).

In Australia, the official norm is CAus, but in oral communication, since the 80s of the twentieth century, the standard type of pronunciation is recognized as GenAus.

How do the Australians speak? There are several opinions:

- they speak as though there's a piece of barbed wire clamped on both sides of their jaws;

- an Aussie accent sounds like a flock of ducks;

- a long flat line and words go along this line straight;

- the tongue is lying over an exercise ball and you can't let it get too busy, etc.

According to the latest data, there are five myths that explain the uniqueness of the Australian accent. According to the first three myths, the Australian accent was formed under the influence of the bright sun, pollen floating in the air, and a lot of flies.

According to the fourth myth, the Australian accent has its roots in the London Cockney dialect, namely:

- omission of the spirant [h] in speech and its occasional use in positions where it is not necessary;

- the appearance of [r] in such intervocalic positions where it is not necessary: I saw - r - im;

- pronouncing a (fate) almost like i (bite);

- pronouncing o (hope) is almost like ow (cow), etc.

The fifth myth says about the great variability of the accent throughout the country.

So, if one wants to speak like a real Australian, it is important to speak lazily, pronounce words very slowly, stretching the vowels. In addition, I will note three more techniques that will help people master the Australian accent:

1. not to pronounce consonants at the end of a word. For example, the word "what?" turns into "wha?”, and "meeting”, "going”, "trying" and other similar forms are pronounced as "meetin", "goin" and "tryin".

2. not to pronounce the “r” at the end of the word; instead, use the open sound “-ah”. So, words like "super”, "after”, "dinner" and "order" will sound like "supah", "aftah”, "dinnah" and "ordah".

3. sound [u:] turns into the sound [ju:] when there is double “o” in the word. Here are examples: the words “pool”, “school”, “cool” will be pronounced as "pewl", "skewl" and "kewl".

2.2 Peculiarities of Australian English grammar

In the field of grammar in AusE, there are very minor differences in the use of individual forms and constructions from British English. Therefore, the Australian element in the AusE grammatical system is poorly expressed. The most notable features are as follows:

1) the use of the preposition about together with the prepositional adverb around, forming a colloquial cliche: We will arrive around about midnight;

2) the use of the personal pronoun she (her) in relation to the UK;

3) the use of the It is meconstruction along with It is I;

4) omission of the auxiliary verb in perfect tenses in AusE. Synthetic perfect forms without an auxiliary verb are often found in rapid colloquial speech, most often in simple narrative and interrogative sentences [10, p. 63].

Characteristic of AusE is the use of the word eh, which replaces the interrogative part of the dividing question and is pronounced with an increase in tone.

Differences appeared in the system of nominal forms associated with the category of numbers. For example, in the British version, the word data has both plural and singular datum. In Australia, data is used only in the plural, but with a singular verb: Data is ready for processing.

There were also differences in the use of the verbs shall - will, should-would, namely: shall remains in use only in motivational and interrogative forms: Shall we go? You shall do that!

Would replaced should almost everywhere: “I wouldn't be so sure of that”, – Susan replied. “What for would I do that, Susie?" - George demanded.

The out–of–use forms of while - amongst in England are still in use in Australia, along with similar, but more modern while - among.

2.3 Peculiarities of Australian English word choice

A comparison of the Australian and British versions of English at the vocabulary level shows that most of the Australian vocabulary coincides with the vocabulary of the British version. Many authors argue that any dictionary of the English language published in the UK, for example, the Oxford English Dictionary, can satisfy an Australian as much as an Englishman. However, this statement does not correspond to reality.

When comparing the lexico-semantic system of the Australian version of English with the British one, cases are found when: words coincide in two variants; words are available in two variants, but differ in emotional coloring; words are preserved in the British/ Australian version, but disappeared from the other; words appeared in the British / Australian version, but are absent in the other.

In the background of words that remain unchanged and coincide in both languages (such as come, black, time, eat, yesterday, little, week, etc.), words that have undergone transformations clearly appear. So, a large group of words have variants that the corresponding words in the British version do not have. Similar meanings are marked in the explanatory dictionaries of the English language with the definition of Australism. Such words include, for example, to -"work alone, especially about gold diggers"; show - "mine, deposit"; station - "sheep farm"; trooper - "mounted policeman", etc. According to the Australian Encyclopedia, the total number of Australisms reaches 10,000.

Much more complicated are the cases when changes occur in logical relatedness within the same meaning of a word. For example, in both variants, the words premier and prime minister are known, but for an Englishman they are synonymous, and for an Australian there is an important semantic difference between them: prime minister - "prime minister of the federal government". Whereas premier is the "premier of the state government".

A change in emotionally expressive coloring was noted in words such as cow and beauty (beaut), which are used in Australia as general terms of negative and positive evaluation, respectively: cow of a road is not a “road”, but “the devil knows it's just a charm, not a car”.

There are cases of great interest, when words known in both versions of the English language have different frequencies in each of them. The preferred use of one rather than another word or expression is in these cases a kind of lexical characteristic of each variant. For example, in both the British and Australian versions of the English language, there are words paraffin and kerosene, but the former is used almost exclusively in England, and the latter in Australia.

In addition, the processes of dropping some words from the vocabulary of Australian English and replenishing it with lexical units that do not have correspondences in the British version are known. So, some words related to the peculiarities of village life and the rural landscape of Great Britain have fallen out of use: glade, glen, brook, fie, wood, etc. The reason could be the difference in the natural conditions of Australia. Many of these words have been replaced by others that have received a different meaning and usage in Australia. So, instead of field and meadow, paddock and run are used in AusE.

Many words were borrowed from the Aboriginal language to denote new objects and phenomena specific to Australia: kangaroo, dingo, cockatoo, galah, emy, kookaburra, gum, mia, brigalow; corroboree.

Many of these words belong to the so-called equivalent vocabulary, their Australian designations have become international names for these phenomena. However, if in other languages these words are used as a kind of terms, and are unambiguous, then in Australia they have a much more complex and rich structure of meaning. So, the word sockatoo, in addition to the name of the bird, has the meaning "small farmer", in slang "the one who stands on the lookout" and others. Dingo in addition to the meaning of "wild dog" has the meaning of "traitor", corroboree has acquired a more general meaning of "noisy holiday".

In addition, a characteristic feature of the Australian vocabulary is a significant number of abbreviated words: abo - "native", uni - "university", speedo - "speedometer".

Finally, I will mention a number of phrases that will help anyone look like a real Australian:

1. G'day = "good day”, but this expression in Australia can mean both "hello” and "how are you". Some people say "g-day" just by meeting a stranger’s gaze on the street.

2. Mate = “friend”. People can also say "mate” to strangers on the street as a greeting.

3. How ya going? = “How are you?”

4. Crikey! and Streuth – interjections to express surprise, bewilderment or even admiration.

5. Fair dinkum = "honestly," "I'm telling the truth."

6. Heaps good = “very good”. The younger generation of Australians likes to replace the word “very” with the word "heaps" (mountains).

7. True Blue = "a real Australian", a typical representative of the Australian people, a faithful son of the country. True for Australians translates as "real", "correct". The blue color has always meant loyalty and devotion.


Today, thanks to globalization and the Internet, as well as quality education in Australia, differences between AusE and British English have begun to fade. Australian educational institutions pay special attention to the correct English language. On television, the presenters speak standard British. But in colloquial speech, you can hear dialect words that are slightly different from the standard pronunciation. At the same time, the spelling of the Australian fully corresponds to the British version, and the phonetic differences are insignificant.

In my work, I highlighted the main features of grammar, pronunciation and word choice of the Australian version of English. Australians effortlessly weave elements of North American phonetics into their Oxford pronunciation, are lazy to finish long words and generally sound like they are in no hurry, enjoying being in one of the best countries to live in.

To sum up, it should be noted that the territorial variants of the English language, one of which is Australian, have already become quite isolated. They have their own literature, phonetic, grammatical and lexical features. But, despite this, they cannot be called independent languages, but only variants of the English language.


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