Languages of Australia
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|Languages of Australia|
|Indigenous||Australian Aboriginal languages, Tasmanian languages, Torres Strait Island languages|
|Immigrant||Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.5%), Cantonese (1.1%), Vietnamese (1.2%), Italian (1.2%)|
|Signed||Auslan, various manual Indigenous languages, such as Eltye eltyarrenke, Rdaka-rdaka and Yolŋu Sign Language amongst others|
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|Culture of Australia|
Australia legally has no official language. However, English is by far the most commonly spoken and has been entrenched as the de facto national language since European settlement. Australian English is a major variety of the English language with a distinctive pronunciation and lexicon, and differs slightly from other varieties of English in grammar and spelling. 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: Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%), Italian (1.2%), Greek (1.0%), Hindi (0.7%), Bangla (0.6%), Spanish (0.6%) and Punjabi (0.6%). A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation immigrants are bilingual or even multilingual.
Over two hundred and fifty Indigenous Australian languages are thought to have existed at the time of first European contact, of which fewer than twenty are still in modern daily use by all age groups. About 110 others are spoken exclusively by older people. 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.
Australia is home to many sign languages, its most widespread is known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 5,500 people. Other sign languages include the various manual Indigenous languages like Eltye eltyarrenke, Rdaka-rdaka and Yolŋu Sign Language.
Rates of English language as most common languages spoken at home are in 2016 and 2011:
- Tasmania (88.3% 2016) (91.7% 2011)
- Queensland (81.2% 2016) (84.8% 2011)
- South Australia (78.2% 2016) (81.6% 2011)
- Western Australia (75.2% 2016) (79.3% 2011)
- Australian Capital Territory (72.7% 2016) (77.8% 2011)
- New South Wales (68.5% 2016) (72.5% 2011)
- Victoria (67.9% 2016) (72.4% 2011)
- Northern Territory (58.0% 2016) (62.8% 2011)
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. The National Indigenous Languages Report is a regular Australia-wide survey of the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages conducted in 2005, 2014 and 2019. An indigenous language remains the main language for about 50,000 (0.25%) people.
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Torres Strait languages
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
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.
The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent an indigenous view of the subject. (September 2020)
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. Languages Other Than English (LOTE) is becoming an increasingly popular subject in Australian schools, and English as a Second Language (ESL) is an alternative, less advanced English subject for newly immigrated students.
- Mandarin (2.5%)
- Arabic (1.4%)
- Cantonese (1.2%)
- Vietnamese (1.2%)
- Italian (1.2%)
- Greek (1.0%)
- Hindi (0.7%)
- Spanish (0.6%)
- Punjabi (0.6%).
A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual.
- "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."
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- 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.
- 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.
- McConvell, P. & N.Thieberger. 2001. State of Indigenous Language Report. http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2001/publications/technical/indigenous-languages.html
- "National Indigenous Languages Report (NILR)". Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. 6 November 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
- "National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2005". Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. 19 February 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
- "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.
- "Draft Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Languages" (PDF). p. 35. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2016.
- McConvell, P. & Thieberger, N. (2001). [State of Indigenous Language Report http://repository.unimelb.edu.au/10187/485].
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