Yo Bro, I’m Talkin’ Auzzie!

This post by Cindy Barnesley ties in nicely with this recent news article about the Americanisation of everyday Australian English spoken by young people today.

Cindy writes:

Accents and idiomatic expressions have a powerful appeal and no less so than in Australia, which has its own particular linguistic “flavour”.

The article points out that our unique use of the English language is being changed by the "prestige" of the American way of speaking as seen in movies, music clips, sports broadcasts. Not only the choice of words is changing but the actual pronunciation according to Professor Roly Sussex, a linguistics expert who points out:

"We're now hearing DIS-tribute, RE-search and CIG-arette quite regularly. This is an American pattern we are starting to pick up and follow."

Add to that the fact that we appropriate and use so many phrases from American culture and it means that phrases as found in the Aussie Slang Dictionary could be cultural oddities from the past.

Personally, I think the cartoon show The Simpsons has a lot to answer for in the speech choices of Australian kids over the past decade! When we had an exchange teacher from Colorado at my school, she spent the year describing her life back in the States and having it immediately referenced to an episode involving Bart, Marge or Homer by her students.

The demise of classic Aussie sayings like "drongo" and "fair dinkum" has a lot to do with relevance. Cindy's post quotes the huge influence that a diverse immigrant population has had on our culture. In my own classroom, a significant number of my students hail from a Greek Australian background - using well worn Aussie phrases often produces looks of puzzlement. And why wouldn't it? These are kids of second generation Australians who spent their youth conversing in one language in the playground and then switching back to a mother tongue at home. Enter the era of the internet and while the Aussie accent is probably going to survive for a while longer, what is uttered using that accent is becoming increasingly globalised by the most dominant English speaking culture in the online world.

Sucking stubbies on a stinking hot day might be replaced by draining bottled ales and taking a screamer at the footy might be replaced by the slamdunk on the court. Unless, I'm totally mistaken and have a kangaroo loose in the top paddock!

Image: 'Stubby Holder' www.flickr.com/photos/36975105@N00/226552339

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One thought on “Yo Bro, I’m Talkin’ Auzzie!

  1. John Larkin

    Could not agree more Graham. Not only the language but greetings in the form of particular handshakes that one may see in a rap video, etc. I occasionally remind the students that we are actually living in Australia.

    It never ceases to amaze when I see fashions inspired by US music and culture that incorporate beanies, hoodies, etc on a hot summer’s day down at the beach. Fair enough mate, fashion is fashion, but heavy jackets when it is 35 degrees celsius?

    Even some of my colleagues frequently sprinkle their conversation with idioms courtesy of the Simpsons. It gets on my goat.


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