Languages of Australia

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Languages of Australia
MainAustralian English
IndigenousAustralian Aboriginal languages, Tasmanian languages, Torres Strait Island languages
ImmigrantMandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%), Italian (1.2%)
SignedAuslan, Australian Irish Sign Language,[1] various manual Indigenous languages, such as Eltye eltyarrenke, Rdaka-rdaka and Yolŋu Sign Language amongst others

Australia has no official language. English has been entrenched as the de facto national language since European settlement.[2] Australian English is a major variety of the language with a distinctive pronunciation and lexicon,[3] and differs slightly from other varieties of English in grammar and spelling.[4] General Australian serves as the standard dialect.

According to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for close to 73% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are:[5] Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%), Italian (1.2%), Greek (1.0%), Hindi (0.7%), Spanish (0.6%) and Punjabi (0.6%).[6]

A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual.

Over 250 Indigenous Australian languages are thought to have existed at the time of first European contact, of which less than 20 are still in daily use by all age groups.[7][8] About 110 others are spoken exclusively by older people.[8] At the time of the 2006 census, 52,000 Indigenous Australians, representing 12% of the Indigenous population, reported that they spoke an Indigenous language at home.[9] Australia is home to many sign languages, its most widespread is known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 5,500 people.[10] Other sign languages include the various manual Indigenous languages like Eltye eltyarrenke, Rdaka-rdaka and Yolŋu Sign Language. There is also a language descended from Irish Sign Language that has influenced Auslan called Australian Irish Sign Language, which has ceased to be taught in 1953, spoken by small communities around the country.[11][12]

Australian Aboriginal languages[edit]

It is believed that there were almost 400 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages at the time of first European contact. Most of these are now either extinct or moribund, with only about fifteen languages still being spoken among all age groups of the relevant tribes.[13] The National Indigenous Languages Report is a regular Australia-wide survey of the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages[14] conducted in 2005[15], 2014[16] and 2019.[14] An indigenous language remains the main language for about 50,000 (0.25%) people.

People who speak descent Australian indigenous languages as a percentage of the population in Australia divided geographically by statistical such as local area, as of the 2011 census

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island languages with the most speakers today are Upper Arrernte, Kalaw Lagaw Ya, Tiwi, Walmajarri, Warlpiri, and the Western Desert language.

Sign languages[edit]

Tasmanian languages[edit]

Torres Strait languages[edit]

Two languages are spoken on the islands of the Torres Strait, within Australian territory, by the Melanesian inhabitants of the area: Kalaw Lagaw Ya and Meriam. Meriam Mir is a Papuan language, while Kalaw Lagaw Ya is an Australian language.

Pidgins and creoles[edit]

Two English-based creoles have arisen in Australia after European contact: Kriol and Torres Strait Creole. Kriol is spoken in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, and Torres Strait Creole in Queensland and south-west Papua.

Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin was a pidgin used as a lingua franca between Malays, Japanese, Vietnamese, Torres Strait Islanders and Aborigines on pearling boats.

Immigrant languages[edit]

There has been a steady decline in the percentage of Australians who speak only English at home since at least 2001. According to the 2001 census, English was the only language spoken in the home for around 80% of the population. By the 2006 census it had fallen to close to 79%, while in the 2011 census, that number had fallen to 76.8%. According to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for close to 72.7% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are:[17][6]

A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Wallis, Bernadette T (16 August 2016). The Silent Book: A Deaf Family and the Disappearing Australian-Irish Sign Language. Missionary Sisters of Service. p. 322. ISBN 978-0646954943.
  2. ^ "Pluralist Nations: Pluralist Language Policies?". 1995 Global Cultural Diversity Conference Proceedings, Sydney. Department of Social Services. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2017. "English has no de jure status but it is so entrenched as the common language that it is de facto the official language as well as the national language."
  3. ^ Moore, Bruce. "The Vocabulary Of Australian English" (PDF). National Museum of Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  4. ^ "The Macquarie Dictionary", Fourth Edition. The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, 2005.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b Hindi is the top Indian language spoken in Australia, SBS, 26 October 2018.
  7. ^ "A mission to save indigenous languages". Australian Geographic. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b "National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2005". Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
  9. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (4 May 2010). "4713.0 – Population Characteristics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006". Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  10. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2007). "20680-Language Spoken at Home (full classification list) by Sex – Australia". 2006 Census Tables : Australia. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  11. ^ Wallis, Bernadette T (16 August 2016). The Silent Book: A Deaf Family and the Disappearing Australian-Irish Sign Language. Missionary Sisters of Service. p. 322. ISBN 978-0646954943.
  12. ^ Adam, Robert. "Australian Irish Sign Language: a minority sign language within a larger sign language community". Endangered Language Archive (ELAR). SOAS University of London. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  13. ^ McConvell, P. & N.Thieberger. 2001. State of Indigenous Language Report. http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2001/publications/technical/indigenous-languages.html
  14. ^ a b "National Indigenous Languages Report (NILR)". Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. 6 November 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  15. ^ "National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2005". Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. 19 February 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Community, identity, wellbeing: The report of the Second National Indigenous Languages Survey". Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]