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The Aussie Accent: Why I do not teach it

Australian Accent: How does it sound, and reasons why I do not teach it

The good old Aussie accent! If you have no idea how that sounds like, watch to this video, and you can have an idea.  I personally find the Aussie accent difficult to speak and, even more so, difficult to understand. Hence, I hardly tend to even teach it.

First let’s take a look at how the Aussie accent developed. I am by no means a researcher, but did some google scouting, and these are the facts that I came up with.

  1. The Aussie accent was first developed around Jan 1788, when the European Settlers first discovered Australia. Of course, the natives were living in Australia, but they did not speak English. Hence, most of the English influence back then came from these communities: South Eastern English, The Irish, The Scots, the Welsh and the Aboriginals.
  2. The Aussie accent developed over the years, and sounded English most of the time, and developed its own identity in the 1830s.
  3. Some say, the Aussie English was heavily influenced by drunken slur of our forefathers. It is said that the average university graduate has a vocabulary of 70,000 words. However, in Australia, the average person has a vocabulary of 35,000. Yikes!

The Australian accent, like any accent can be divided into 3 parts. A) Cultivated B) General C) Broad.

Cultivated: Think Cate Blanchett. This version of the accent is usually from the higher socio economic status of the society. Having said that, this speech is not related to class, as even politicians do not fall amongst the category. (eg: Former Aussie PM Tony Abbott)

General: I would associate myself in this category, although, I do not sound fully Aussie. This is the majority of the population.

Broad: Think Steve Irwin. This version is highly nasalised and the words are much more shortened.

Common features of the Australian Accent :

  • ‘a’ and ‘e’s sound quite alike!
  • ‘t’ and ‘l’ sounds get dropped a fair bit.
  • ‘t’ gets substituted for ‘d’
  • Words get shortened . Eg: Australia becomes “ Straya”
  • Most sentences end on a high inflection, as if the speaker is asking a question, rather than making a statement.
  • Tendency to nasalise words

These are some of the features, and I am sure there are loads more, whom linguists can add onto to.

I have been living in Australia for almost 17 years, and I still have not managed to sound fully Aussie. And to be honest, I don’t think that has been my aim either. I have always wanted to sound neutral, so that I can be understood easily. And having an neutral accent, means all your words are enunciated and spoken eloquently.

As such, I do not  teach the Aussie accent, as I do not fully identify with it or particularly like copying it. I am curious to hear what types of accents you love to hear, or learn? Comment below!

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