Talk:Australian English/Archive 1

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Talk:Australian English
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Talk:Australian English vocabulary
Archive I Archive II Archive III
Wiktionary:Appendix talk:
Australian English vocabulary

Talk:Australian English phonology
Archive I Archive II

Talk:Variation in Australian English

Relationship to other varieties of English

Acceptance of different spellings

I take issue with this: The exposure to the different spellings of British and American English leads to a certain amount of spelling confusion—for instance, "organize" as opposed to "organise", or "behavior" as opposed to "behaviour". Generally, either variant is accepted.

I was under the impression that current Australian standards were to always use the 's' over 'z' and to keep 'u'. Or at least that seems to be how things are done in WA schools.

Actually the Macquarie dictionary clearly states that either are acceptable but in reality Australian English is quite notable for its strong preference of "-ise" spellings especially. Generally Australians prefer British spellings with -our and -re but some American spellings are more common here than in the UK for particular words. There is no one "Australian standard". The government and some large companines issue their own style guides as does Macquarie - but they don't necessarily agree. — Hippietrail 02:07, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)
British dictionaries prefer <-ize> to <-ise> but this is not a good reflexion on the actual preference of British people. I've seen both in Australia. As for <-or> and/or <-er> instead of <-our> and/or <-re> respectively, though, I don't think that this is common at all umongst ordinary Aussies. - Jimp a.k.a Jim

I have taken out the example of Australian Labor Party as an Americanism - rather it is an older spelling variation. I found when researching World War 1 memorials that Honour Boards were often referred to as Honor Boards - it is only in the latter half of the 20th century that in Australia we have preferred the variant of labour and honour with the letter "u". I do not believe that the spelling without the "u" is an American variant in the case of the Labor Party. --AYArktos 08:53, 4 May 2005 (UTC)


I think that to say that the pronunciation of "h" as "haitch" is not universal is still an overstatement. It is not even common and, as one might predict from the explanation, it is traditionally limited to Roman Catholics (20-25% of the population). Like the expression "youse" it is not considered slang or dialect but simply incorrect, even by those who accidentally say it.

I totally agree. Does anyone really say "Haitch"? I thought everyone in Australia said "aitch" just like everyone else?!
"Haitch" is very common in Australia. I have lived in 4 states and have not yet detected a pattern of who uses it and who does not. I can't remember if I used to use this pronunciation but I do recall that certain teachers and parents used to reprimand those who do. Members of my family, all Melbournians use it. I do not use it. One of my work colleagues uses it and he was raised in the NT and ACT. At work we have many foreign travelers and often they pick up on his pronunciation of this letter and use it mockingly, though he does not seem to notice it. I've also heard British people here discussing it and generalising it as a marker of Australian speech. Where on earth does the relgion-based division come from???? — Hippietrail 13:06, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Hippietrail, you are obviously from Australia (as you talk about coming from Melbourne), don't you know how to spell traveller. -- Anon
Nope, not all the time. Thanks for giving an excellent demonstration of the hard-to-define Australian term "wanker" though! You'll make a fine pedant one day. — Hippietrail 15:16, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Now be nice. I only pointed this out, because it shows how American influence has had an effect on our subconscienceness, unless you were just being careless (American spelling is one of my pet peeves). -- Anon
As long as we're publicly correcting one another, there is no such word as "subconscienceness" in either Australian or American dictionaries. At least "traveller" and "humor" are accepted spellings somewhere. (In fact, -or spellings go all the way back to the Latin; the -our versions come from French. Why aren't we complaining about French influence on our language corrupting the good old Latin?) Nor is it correct (in either variety of English) to end a question with a full stop[1], and this is one of my pet peeves. You might want to work on perfecting your own English before telling others off for much smaller errors. --Calair 00:19, 25 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You're wrong about the word "subconscienceness" it's a word used in both the Australian and British dictionaries I have (an American dictionary is irrelevant in Australia as far as I'm concerned). It is also a word that is generally accepted for use in Australia - I've heard it used in the media and in government.
Can't find any hits in Oxford. Nor on any Australian site, government or otherwise. In fact, Googling finds just | 31 hits, all apparently due to people (mostly American) who misspelt "subconscious" (which sounds quite similar, but is obviously not the same thing). I would like to learn more about this word - on what page of what Australian and British dictionaries did you find it?
The word 'subconscience' shows up a bit more often; again, most hits seem to be misspellings of 'subconscious'. The remainder seem to be modifications of 'conscience', which isn't exactly relevant to a discussion on US/Australian spelling. --Calair 00:50, 26 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You are right subconscienceness is not a word, I was careless in my spelling of "subconsciousness". I also didn't look at the spelling of the word properly in my dictionaries. I will not go around picking on anyone's spelling in discussion pages anymore. I will take your advice and improve my own English. Just, it really annoys me when I see Australians using American spelling, whether deliberate or not. -- Anon
About my punctuation, it was more of a statement than a question, but perhaps I should have phrased it better.
"don't you know how to spell humour" is in no way a statement. It is a question, and even rhetorical questions deserve their question marks. --Calair 00:50, 26 Dec 2004 (UTC)
What happened with the -or / -our endings was that the British changed those Latin words that end in -or around the early eighteenth century period to copy the French version of those words that the French spell with an -eur ending. Then in the early nineteenth century Webster came along and changed them back to the original Latin form to differentiate the spelling of those words from the British spelling. You are right about the French influence on English though, but that started just after the Norman invasion of England, when Norman-French scribes destroyed the spelling of Old English words, the grammar and the alphabet it used. Now that we have criticised each other, lets all be friends and get on with our lives. -- Anon

Australians’ use of words


Deadpan Humour

The comment about deadpan humour is not limited to Australian English. Perhaps it belongs on the Anti-Americanism page. When Americans tell an outlandish story they will be very quick to add, "It's only a joke." -- just to avoid a lawsuit. I try not to tell Americans when I'm joking; to do so would be to insult their intelligence.

I don't think we (Australians) use deadpan humour purely to embarass Amerkins - it's a regular feature of communication between us. And whoever added that comment also noted that it is a British trait as well. It could also be added that Amerkins (in general) don't grasp the "friendly put-down" and take offence rather easily. So I do think it is quite fair to observe that (in general) Amerkins don't get deadpan humour (as used here). In their defence a handful actually do, and they can actually be pleasant to have around. (Well some of the time, anyway, until they start acting like they actually understand what good coffee is). User:MMGB

I was trying to be NPOV with that comment, in that a) Australians do use deadpan humor a fair bit, amongst themselves as well as to foriegners, b) it is inherited from Britain, and c) Americans don't (generally) use it in a similar way, thus leading to a fair amount of cultural confusion. I'm not trying to imply that Americans are stupid, merely that they don't have the same learned response to run every such story through the BS detector and laugh if it goes off. I thought it was relevant in that it is one of the major causes of confusion when conversing between Americans and Australians. As to our view of the United States, it is a highly complex one, and varies greatly according to personal experience and political outlook (and is a discussion for another page). --Robert Merkel
Mr Merkel, you are obviously from Australia (seen your user page), don't you know how to spell humour. -- Anon
This is a tricky one. Deadpan humour seems pretty universal to me. I've seen people from all sorts of places -- America definitely included -- use it and get it. Whether one gets it seems to depend more on personality than culture. Similarly with put-downs; Americans certainly flip each other shit (take the piss out of each other) all the time. It's not that Americans don't get the concept of friendly put-downs, but that the boundaries of what's considered friendly may be in different places.
On the other hand, I completely believe that Americans have a reputation, deserved or not, for missing tall tales (odd, because tall tales are a lively and vibrant aspect of many American subcultures, and the more deadpan the delivery the better). It's not clear whether more of us just don't get it, or whether Americans who don't react more noticeably to not getting a joke, or whether Americans who don't get it tend to be louder and more noticeable in general than Americans who do, or whether it's all just another national myth.
Trying to gauge what's acceptable humor is a general source of uncertainty when getting to know someone, and leg-pulling is probably one of the harder genres in that respect (another difficult and highly context-dependent area is just how much one may rely on stereotypes). As mentioned above, Americans may be more likely not put out the right cues in the "am I supposed to laugh now?" situation and thus be perceived as humourless. But this is veering dangerously close to the stereotyping that, judging by the article text, Aussies are just as sensitive about as anyone else (and rightly so). --dmh

The word larrikin seems to be in vogue right now, in this period of serious introspection, to describe a particularly Australian form of dead pan humour. An Australian myself, and having spent eleven years from age 24 on, in Europe, I am more aware of it than most ordinary Australians. I have experienced this humour from mildly ironic, thru laconic to sadonic (sick or black). It recentley took me three days to engage my inner Virtual Interpreter to translate every apparent insult into it's opposite ie Silly Old Bastard meant completely the opposite. I believe it's origin lies in the Sparten word Laconic meaning terse and rude and might probably have been used by the petty thief; english (larceny). Either way it is extremely difficult to engage in any meaningfull conversation. user:Jus

Picking on Americans

Just wanted to say, as an American, that after reading this article I feel a bit picked on. We're not all ignorant ethnocentric slobs, you know.

Although I will confess that not only can I not distinguish between a New Zealand and Australia accent, I can barely distinguish between an English and a South African English accent. *sigh* Such an interesting point, one that I've never heard before, that you have to be a continental insider (Down Under; North America) to be able to distinguish NZ-Oz or US-Canadian accent differences. I've been surrounded by Canadians lately and suddenly the usually-just-mocked-and-not-much-heard Canadian accent is as clear as day. Huh. I wonder if the U.S. Southern accent is distinguishable...

Anyway, enough babbling for now. Just came to say the thing about picked on, and request someone somewhere write about "How the Australians got their accents" and "How the Americans got their accents"--aren't their supposed to be cultural/social roots in the UK? jengod 06:52, 13 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I think the general view is that the Australian accent is descended from the London - Cockney accent, since most of the early convicts were petty crims from the London slums, while the American accent descends from northern English accents, particularly Yorkshire and East Anglia, since that is where so many of the early Protestant pioneers came from. That explains why Americans and Yorshirepersons both say "can't" to rhyme with cant while Londoners and Australians say "carnt". Adam 08:14, 13 Jan 2004 (UTC)


Is There A Pattern?

This quote is, I think, a bit misguided and confusing.

Australian English has a unique set of diminutives... There does not appear to be any particular pattern to which of these suffixes is used.. Occasionally, a -za diminutive is used, usually for personal names. Barry becomes Bazza, Karen becomes Kazza and Sharon becomes Shazza.

In the final example, the writer seems to refute his/her own claim that there appears not to be a pattern by giving several examples that show a clear pattern in the usage of the -za diminutive. To the casual observer, and indeed to the everyday speaker of Australian English, it seems clear that the pattern here is found in names with an R in the middle between two syllables. We could also mention that Darren becomes Dazza to further support this.

It's a small thing, but I think I'm right. However, I'm not willing to make changes to a page that I've only read for the first time today.


I edited this in some time back, without seeing this here, as it happens. So yes, definitely agree. Perey 02:33, 25 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Splitting The Article

Long list of slang

The slang words list seems very long (other "Englishs" don't have similar lists, even though they have similarly large unique slang vocabularies). Should the list be moved into its own page sometime? 29 OCT 2004

Also, I'm not opposed to splitting off the slang into its own article. — Hippietrail 23:28, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I think, given the list's length, it would be entirely appropriate to move it to its own page with prominent links in the main Australian English article. Australian slang would seem the most obvious choice. -- Guybrush 03:30, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The Unconvincing Solution

I believe the answer to that question is "Yes." Australian vocabulary takes up at least half of this article (and this discussion section too).

Here's what I'm about to do. I'm going to take Sections 2 and 5 ("Australian words" and "Vocabulary") and combine them to create a new article, "Australian Vocabulary", on another page. I'll leave a summarised version on this page with a link to the new page.

- Jimp

I'm not convinced of the wisdom of this, as the slang is such an important part of the way that Australians use English. And where is the link to the new page? Grant65 (Talk) 10:24, Mar 8, 2005 (UTC)

The link was under the heading Australian Vocabulary. The section is now renamed just Vocabulary (which is fair enough) and has the link twice. I'm not clear as to what wisdom you're not convinced of, Grant. If our slang is so important, then doesn't this mean it deserves it's own page? Also, I'm not keen on focusing on slang. Slang is only a subset of vocabulary and a rather difficult subset to delineate at that. - Jim

On the contrary Jim, there is nothing wrong with repeating some material twice on different pages -- if necessary. There is now no undue emphasis on slang and it doesn't seem that "difficult to delineate", especially given the growing list of slang that is on the Australian words page. By the way, I have removed the summary from the start of the Vocabulary section because it summarises material which is now immediately above it. Grant65 (Talk) 23:28, Mar 9, 2005 (UTC)

I think I see where you're coming from, Grant. No, nothing wrong with repetition where necessary or even just where useful. And I agree, there is no undue emphasis on slang in either article.

When I wrote about focusing on slang it was only in reference to your comment that slang was important. I had only hoped to clarify what you meant there. Vocabulary is what's important; slang is only a subset but I think that you'd agree.

The Australian vocabulary list is not really a list of slang. It contains such terms as Anglo-Celtic, dummy, footpath, Manchester and nature strip. None of these qualify as slang in my book. On the other hand there are terms like cactus, carn, arse and derro which definitely are slang.

When I write that it's difficult to delineate slang I refer to such words as bushwalking, chook, battler and ute. Are they slang or not? The thing is that it's not really important because they're listed under Australian vocabulary with no emphasis on whether they are slang. This is the best way to do things as far as I can see.

So, when you wrote that you weren't convinced of the wisdom of what I did you meant that you weren't keen on having all reference to vocabulary on the new page, right? That makes sense. The way the two articles have been reorganised since I split them makes good sense. I can see the advantages of this reorganisation. I don't mind your having removed the summary that I wrote. You're right: there's no need for it any more. -Jimp 10Mar05

Anyway, here's why I split the article. - Jimp 18Mar05

Before I had my go at this page the table of contents looked like this.


1 Differences from other variants of English
2 Australian words
2.1 Diminutives
3 Varieties of Australian English
3.1 Regional variation
3.2 Regional Phonetic Variation
4 Phonology
4.1 Vowels and Diphthongs
4.2 Consonants
4.3 Allophones
4.4 Other phonological phenomena
4.5 Myths about Australian English
5 Vocabulary
5.1 Unique Australian words, slang and/or usage
5.2 Rhyming slang
5.3 Old or expired slang
5.4 Food and culinary terms
6 External links

I took sections two and five, shuffled them up a bit and made a new article entitled Australian Vocabulary. It's now been renamed Australian words. - Jim 23Mar05

Why I Split The Article

Anyway, here's the logic behind my splitting the article up; it might not qualify as wisdom. The article was very long and so probably needed to be split. Two full sections (plus one subsection) focussed on vocubulary: more than half the article. Others had commented on moving the long list of "slang" (i.e. vocabulary) onto it's own page.

Had I not gone ahead and split the article there'd probably have been no change. This jumble wanted sorting into two piles. Someone had to fix it. If the person who fixes something here botches it up, there's usually someone to clean up the mess. I just wanted to get the ball rolling. I had neither imagined nor even hoped that things would be left the way that I put them.

Whilst I was at it I thought that some of the paragraphs could use being reshuffled. That I did. I think that the way I left it was better than the way I found it. I s'pose I did leave the job half done, though, but sure enough there was someone to finish it off, thank you, Grant.

Things have been rearranged again. The way things are now is better than how they were before I split the article. I'm not about to quibble about whose rearrangement is better: as I say, I was only half done.

So what I'm saying is this. It might not wise to have the articles the way I left them the on 8Mar05 but this is not the question. They say that the ends justify the means and sometimes it's true. Between us we've made an improvement so I think I can rightly say it was useful to have put things the way I did.

On a completely different note. Do you know what's going on with the Phonology section? Diphthongs are vowels, /ə/ is a vowel. There are 20 vowels in AusE (give or take) not 11. Also not all non-prevocallic <r>s become pronounced as /ə/ in non-rhotic dialects. I've ranted at length in the "The Unconvincing Solution" setion of the article's talk page. - Jim 10Mar05

Other Fixed Problems

Here are a couple of other problems with the article that I've fixed up. I'm mentioning them so people can see what changes I've made any why. Also because they've been fixed I don't see why they need to take up space on the Talk Australian English page. - Jim 23Mar05

The Links Don't Work

Maquarie Uni has gone and rearranged their website so any links to it don't work anymore. In the "Phonology Section" I replaced one broken link with Google's cached page in it's place.

I've removed the following broken links from the External Links section.

These broken links could similarly be replaced with Google caches. However, I don't suppose that these pages will be avilable forever. With a bit of luck Mac Uni will give us a new pages with the same info. Maybe they have done so already but I can't find it. - Jim

Moved comment made by Jim from the article page – AxSkov 13:57, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Wrong IPA/X-SAMPA symbols

According to Cox et. al it's (X-SAMPA) [6] & [6:] for the vowels in "hut" & "heart". A good look at an IPA graph will show that [a] is similar to (IPA) [æ] except that it's more open. This is not the vowel we use in these words. I have adjusted the vowel table in the "Phonology" section. -Jim