Understanding The English In Australia

Understanding The English In Australia
Yes, Australians speak English! However, in comparison to other English speaking countries around the world, the accent is surprisingly different. For most non-English speaking foreigners, it is difficult to pick up the discrepancies in accents between English-speaking countries. However, it is certainly there. As a matter of fact, even British or American travellers to Australia have trouble with the language on occasions.

For emigrants who have developed their English speaking skills from an American school, they will certainly hear the difference after living in Australia. One would hear Americans accentuate the 'r' sound quite strongly when used in phrases and sentences. However, Australians tend to use a weaker 'r' sound, and even change 'ar' into 'ah' when speaking. For example, Americans would say the word 'guitar', while Australians would say 'guitah'. At first, emigrants can find it challenging to understand locals. However, it doesn't usually take too long for newcomers to feel more comfortable with the Aussie accent.

When it comes to Australia's local dialect, there are a few differences emigrants may notice. The vocabulary used in Australia is very similar to that found in American-English countries and British-English countries. However, there are some subtle variations that newcomers should be aware of. For example:

International – Australian
French fries – chips
Pot pies – meat pies
Gas – petrol
Diapers – nappies
Sneakers – running shoes
Soda – soft drink
Candy – lolly

Australians have also got their own type of colloquial language that people tend to use from time to time. If emigrants move into their new Aussie life at a large city, then these colloquialisms will not be heard as often. However, if emigrants live in the smaller townships or even the remote areas of Australia, then these colloquialisms become much more apparent. The slang used in Australia comes in several styles. One of these is rhyming slang, where the speaker uses a rhyming phrase in place of the correct item or object. Some examples are highlighted below –

Regular – Rhyming slang
Wife – cheese and kisses (a rhyme for 'missus' – which means wife in Australia)
Telephone – dog and bone
Meat pie with sauce – dogs eye with dead horse
Take a look – take a Captain Cook
A dollar – an Oxford Scholar
A snag or sausage – mystery bag
Forgive and forget – a cigarette

In addition to rhyming slang, Australians also like to shorten words, which draws back to their 'relaxed' attitude to life. At first, trying to understand the lingo may prove difficult, but shortening the vocabulary does become easier to understand, and easy to use too! Names are usually shortened too, which is a sign of friendship between people.

Regular – shortened form
Afternoon – arvo/arvy
U-turn – uey
Television – telly
Royal Exhibition – ekka
Mosquito – mozzy
Darren/Sharon/Barry – Dazza/Shazza/Bazza

Even though the amount of slang words and phrases used in Australia is quite extensive, many Australians don't use them, and some don't even know the meaning of them. Therefore, emigrants shouldn't feel excluded or embarrassed if something isn't understood. Australians are generally very empathic and friendly people, so if the language proves too much at times, a simple 'I'm sorry I don't understand' will certainly help the situation.