Why doesn't Australia use American English
A Guide to Australian English (and Everything You Need to Know About Aussies)
Australian English is considered one of the most important variations of English and is the official language in Australia. It is derived from British English and developed in the 18th century after the colony of New South Wales was founded. It is recognized as a special form of English and originated from the languages of British, Irish and German settlers.
Linguistic peculiarities in Australian English
Generally speaking, Australian English combines features from British and American English, so it is sometimes viewed as a simple combination of the two. However, it is important to understand that there are also many features that are unique to Australian English. Above all, this includes specific vocabulary.
It can be helpful for anyone planning to travel to Australia or to work there at some point to learn these specifics. With this in mind, we are giving you a little guide to Australian English.
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Grammatical peculiarities in Australian English
Australian English has a reputation for being a mix of British and American English. Why this is so becomes clear with a look at the grammar. The spelling is very similar to British English: In words like “color” the “u” is retained and the British version “ise” is written instead of the American ending “ize”: “realize” / “realize”
However, there are many exceptions: Instead of the word “inquire”, the American variant “inquire” is often used, as is the American “program” instead of the British “program”. It gets really crazy with the word “labor”: Although the British spelling is common, the Australian Labor Party has chosen the American spelling.
As in British English, there are irregular past tenses and participles in Australian. The verbs “spell” and “smell” become “spelt” and “smelt”. In contrast, numbers like 1100 are spoken as "eleven hundred", just like in American English, instead of saying "one thousand, one hundred" as in British English.
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When it comes to collective terms, Australian English is closer to American English. Both Australians and Americans would say: "The football team has scored a goal". Brits, on the other hand, see the team as plural and therefore also put the verb in the plural: "The football team have scored a goal".
Interestingly, the naming of rivers follows both American and British conventions, depending on which part of the country you are in. In most areas, the American variant is used in which the word "river" comes second, such as the Hudson River or the Mississippi River. An example of an Australian river is the Darling River.
In the south of the country, however, the British system is used, in which the word “river” comes first as in River Thames. The river from the example would be called River Darling here.
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Pronunciation in Australia
When it comes to pronunciation, Australian English has developed a life of its own, which is why people with an Australian accent sound so different. One of the most noticeable features is the sound "i" in words like "night" and "like". Australians pronounce it more like “oi”: “noight”.
The soft "a" as in "cat" or "hat" is pronounced more like an "eh". The word "cat" sounds like "ceht" and "has" like "heht".
The hard “a” as in “day”, “way” or “mate” is also pronounced differently. It comes very close to the British "aye". So “mate” becomes “m-aye-te”.
The ending "-ing" is not spoken completely. Words like "singing", "jumping" and "catching" sound like "singin‘ "," jumpin ‘" and "catchin‘ ". This trait can also be found in informal English - whether British or American - but it is more common in Australian English.
And finally something about the / r / sound in Australia. Australian English is non-rhotic, which means that the / r / is not spoken if it comes after a vowel and no other vowel follows immediately after it. For example, the word “card” is pronounced like “caːd”, so the / r / sound falls out. If the / r / is at the end like "better" and "wetter", it gets deeper and sounds a bit like "ah". So you would say: “bett-ah”, “wett-ah”, “riv-ah” and so on.
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Australian English vocabulary
For everyday words, Australian English has both British and American English expressions, and it also has a few words of its own.
Perhaps the best-known words that have now found their way into other languages are “outback”, to describe a very remote area, and “barbie”, which is used instead of “barbecue”. An example of an exclusively Australian word would be “doona” instead of “duvet”.
As in British English, the Australians also say “aluminum” instead of “aluminum” and “mobile phone” instead of “cell phone”. They also use “anti-clockwise” instead of the American “counter-clockwise” and “petrol” instead of “gasoline”, as one would say in the USA. The front cover of a car is "bonnet" and not "hood" and Australians tend to say "vacation" to "holiday".
Nevertheless, there are also differences to British English and in some places Australians use words from American English. Australians would speak of “soccer” instead of “football” and of “overalls” instead of “dungarees”. A truck is a "truck" and not a "lorry" and pants are "pants" and not "trousers".
There are also expressions that are used in British and American English but are rarely or not at all used in Australian English. These include “abroad”, which means “overseas” in Australia, and “village”, which is “town” in Australian English.
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Australian slang words
And last but not least, you should of course also learn a few slang words that are often used in Australia. Here we have listed 15 expressions for you, along with a brief explanation of their meaning and their use in a conversation:
Amber - beer or lager
Aussie - a person from Australia
Drongo - is used instead of “idiot” or “moron”
Fair Dinkum - true or real
Gander - look at something
G’Day - actually means “good day”, but is generally used as a greeting
Give It A Burl - Try it.
Hooroo - Bye.
oldies - parents
Pom / pommie - a British person
Reckon - is used like "absolutely"
Ripper - similar to "great", "fantastic" and "awesome"
She’s Apple - It's okay / Everything will be fine.
Tucker - is used to describe any type of food
Yabber - Conversation or conversation
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