Accents across Australia


To continue my celebration of all things Aussie, here is the transcript of story on "Today-Tonight"

The true blue, fair dinkum Aussie accent is part of our identity. To mark Australia Day, we asked an expert to compare accents in different states.
What we say and how we say it defines Australians as a people. The Aussie accent is an international symbol of our identity.

It is sometimes called "strine" (named for the way some people pronounce "Australian"), meaning the slang we like to fling about and the way we say it.
While we can all be true blue and fair dinkum, there are slightly different accents all around the country.

[Related story: Aussies could lose their ocker]
Dr Felicity Cox knows more about the Australian accent than most. As a speech scientist, she sits and listens to how our national accents change.
"In Sydney, people are more formal and have a little bit of a more international accent," Dr Cox said. "And as you go to Brisbane or out to Perth it's a little bit more relaxed."
"Australians speak very much the same, depending on where you come from, but there are minor differences, slight differences between the states."
While the Aussie accent immediately stands out in a crowd overseas, recordings from last century reveal it has changed over the years.

"There are a number of theories as to how accents develop and people will always tend to speak the way their peers speak," Dr Cox said.
Dr Cox has carefully studied the way teenagers take the language in new directions.
"Accents tend to develop amongst teenagers, so any changes we see in our language come in the speech of teenagers more than older people."
For example, when a teenager said "my head", it was often different from the pronunciation of an older person.

"Young Australians now are more likely to say "my HAD", they're moving the vowel down," Dr Cox said.

We asked Dr Cox to devise a sentence that would reveal how much the Australian accent differed from state to state. She came up with: "Sally-Anne and Dell wore their fur coats and brown boots and high hats to the high school dance in the second year."

"This is an interesting sentence," Dr Cox explained. "It comprises a number of potential markers of regional variation, so you will notice there are lots of "L" consonants in it."
"We've got the word 'Sally-Anne', so it has an A before an l, we've got the word 'Dell' so we have an E before an l, we have the word 'school', which has an 'oo' before an l."
"And those vowels will change when they occur before an l, and that change is different from different parts of Australia."

Today Tonight shipped the sentence around the country, inviting people to read it aloud.
Dr Cox carefully examined our results, listening for those tiny differences most of us would hardly notice.
"A lot of the boys and girls say "Dall"," Dr Cox said. "So they have an almost "A" sound before the "L" and that's characteristic of people from Victoria, particularly in Melbourne."
There were other, more pronounced differences between the east and west of Australia.
"We have this difference between "school"," Dr Cox said. "'Skool' in Adelaide, and people from Brisbane might even have 'skooool'."

Dr Cox believed many of these differences may eventually die out as more people crossed the country for work, their native accents blending in with adopted tones.
There was also an impact from migrant accents, but the influx of Americanism posed no threat to our language, Dr Cox said. The Aussie vernacular was here to stay.
"Australian English is a potent symbol of Australian national identity and will remain so into the future," she said. "It won't be eroded by American English.

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