Western Australian English
Western Australian English is the collective name given to the variety or varieties of English spoken in the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). As with the other regional varieties of Australian English, the vocabulary spoken in Western Australia also varies slightly by region. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, there are three localised, regional varieties of English in WA: Perth English, Central Western Australian English, and Northern Western Australian English. While there are many commonalities, each has its own variations in vocabulary.
Some of the vocabulary used in Western Australia is unique, within both Australia, and the wider world. Several terms of British origin have survived which are rarely used in other parts of Australia. One example is verge, meaning the area between a road and a paved footpath, which is known by the term nature strip in the rest of Australia. Some American terms, such as crosswalk, also known as a pedestrian crossing or zebra crossing, have also found a niche in WA. Other words have been shortened, for example, the term bathers is commonly used in place of bathing suit or togs as used in other parts of Australia. Some original terms have also been invented in WA, and have since found their way into common usage. An example of this is the term home open, describing a house on the market which is open for public inspection. There are also many unique, invented slang words, such as ding, referring to an Australian immigrant of Italian descent (this word is often considered derogatory and/or offensive), or munted, referring to an object which is misshaped or unsightly. Glasses of beer in Western Australia smaller than a pint are referred to as a middy, a 285ml serve.
Some pronunciations also differ from those used in the rest of Australia. For example, people from WA tend to pronounce loquat with a "k" sound (/ˈloʊkət/) instead of the "kw" (/ˈloʊkwɒt/ or /ˈloʊkwət/) used elsewhere.
Many words from the Aboriginal language have found their way into Western Australian English. Examples include gidgee (or gidgie), a Noongar word for spear, as used in modern spear fishing; and gilgie (or jilgie), the Noongar name for a small freshwater crayfish of the South West. Another word of likely Aboriginal origin is boondy (pronounced with ʊ, like the vowel in bull), which means a rock, boulder, or small stone. Among Western Australians, the term sand-boondy or more commonly boondy is well-recognised as referring to a small lump of sand (with the granules stuck together), often thrown at one another by children in the playground.
Most Western Australians speak with either a general Australian accent or a broad Australian accent. Those who grew up in suburban Perth typically speak with a general Australian accent, and those from regional areas ("from the country") speak with a broad accent.
Centring diphthongs are the vowels that occur in words like ear, beard, air and sheer. In Western Australia, there is a tendency for centering diphthongs to be pronounced as full diphthongs. Those in the eastern states will tend to pronounce "fear" and "sheer" without any jaw movement, while westerners would pronounce them like "fia" and "shia", respectively.
As also found in South Australian English, the tendency for some /l/ sounds to become vowels (/l/ vocalisation) is more common than other states. "Hurled", for example, in Western Australia has a vocalised /l/, leading to the pronunciation "herwd", whereas in other states the /l/ is pronounced as a consonant. The "l" is vocalised; for example, "milk" sounds like "miuwk" and "hill" sounds like "hiw". A back allophone of /ʉː/, [ʊː]
- Australian English
- Variation in Australian English
- Australian words
- Australian English phonology
- Other regional varieties:
- Australian Broadcasting Coorporation, "Regionalisms"
- Maureen Brooks and Joan Ritchie, Words from the West: A Glossary of Western Australian Terms. Oxford University Press (1994). ISBN 0-19-553628-2
- Rhonda Oliver, Graham McKay and Judith Rochecouste, "Lexical Variation among Western Australian Primary School Children", Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 22, no. 2 (1 October 2002) pp. 207 - 229.
- Speaking Our Language: The Story of Australian English. Bruce Moore 2008