History and Origins of Australian English 4 Classification of Australian English 5 Linguistic Features of Australian English (i) Phonetic and Phonological features of Australian English

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Analysis of Australian English

Historical and Linguistic Development

By  K I M   L U C A S

Edgehill University College

LNG2000 History and Development of English Language


  1. Map of Australasia

  1. History and Origins of Australian English

4        Classification of Australian English

5        Linguistic Features of Australian English

          (i)        Phonetic and Phonological features of Australian English

          (ii)        Intonation

          (iii)        Vocabulary/Lexis



9        The Future of Australian English

10        Bibliography

Kim Lucas                                                                                        1



Kim Lucas                                                                                         2

History and Origins of Australian English

The history of Australian English is relatively short, accumulating only 200 years in comparison to the history of the original languages of Australia, which date back around 40,000 years and include Guugu Yimidhirr, Wirradhurri and Pitjantjatara.   In around the mid-17th century it is noted that the Dutch chartered the western coast of Australia named New Holland which was followed by the charter of the eastern coastline by Captain James Cook in 1707, later named New South Wales.  It was in the early 19th century the term Australia was recognized as the name for the continent as a whole.  The term Australian English has not always been used when describing the language spoken in Australia.  Terms that were previously used include those of Antipodean English, Austral English and Australasian English, relecting the language of Australasia as a whole.  Prior to the European settlement in around 1788 there were long periods of indigenous settlement, that is, Aboriginal.  It is estimated that at the time of the British colonisation around 250 distinct indigenous languages were in use and well over half of these are no longer in use today, as noted at, .

 It is true to say that the accents of Australian English are stigmatized, even today, especially by middle-class British English speakers.   If one were to research the origins of Australian English they would probably discover the underlying reasons for this.  When Australia was colonized 200 years ago it was regarded as a convict colony for Britain which saw the transportation of British convicts who had, in almost all cases, committed only minor crimes.  It is also the case that these convicts were transported from London and most of them sentenced there which along with the long journey to the new continent, meant that there was an overwhelming influence of the Cockney variety of English amongst the prisoners.  It is possible that this could account

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Kim Lucas                                                                                             3

for the fact that Australian English appears to be stigmatized by middle-class British English speakers.  Cockney was spoken by all ‘Londoners’ at one point but this began to change when a new status, middle-class, was emerging.  Middle-class speakers of British English wanted to portray themselves as such and one way in which they could achieve this was through speech.  This could be seen to be the start of Standard English which meant that the Cockney variety was now seen as a ...

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