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The question ???What makes us Australian??? has underscored Australian politics and culture since the Second World War.
Is it the colour of our skin
No; immigration means that 10% of all Australians are now of non-European extraction.
Is it our culture
Perhaps, but there are hundreds of different cultures co-existing in Australia, again, due to immigration, and if we were to take White Australian Culture as national, then – how unique is it really in comparison to New Zealand, Canada, the U.K. and the like
???Ah!??? I hear you say, ???But what about our language Now that??™s something we almost all have in common.???
All right then, does our language make us Australian
Not at all, it couldn??™t be more uniform. We, as Australians, use the same English as one-and-a-half billion others worldwide.
Or do we
There are three important distinctions. The first, vocabulary, is our extension of the Language. The second, colloquialisms, is our modification of the Language. The third, pronunciation, is the accent with which we speak the language.
According to its editor Dr. Bruce Moore, the newest edition of the Oxford Australian National Dictionary is anticipated to include more than 14,000 distinctly Australian words and meanings. Words from the Convict Era such as Swag, from the First World War such as Aussie and Furphy, from the Contemporary Era such as Removalist and Benchtop, negative words such as Bludger, positive words such as Battler and Larrikin, and the more recent: Bogan and Ranga.
Bogan, meaning ???Fool??™ or ???Hooligan??™, first appeared in the 1980s. Bogan has since screamed onto the scene, replacing the former regional equivalents: Westie, from Sydney and Melbourne, Bevan, from Queensland, Chigga, from Tasmania, and Booner, from Canberra.
Ranga, a derogatory term for someone with red or orange hair, derives from the word ???O-rang-utan??™. It rose to fame with the Australian Television satire Summer Heights High.
From the words mentioned above, Bogan and Ranga are two which can be described as slang. Fittingly enough, there is another slang term used to denote the very same slang it defines: Strine.
The colloquialisms of our Language, known nationally as Australianisms, take three forms. The first, diminutives, are abbreviations on nouns such as ???afternoon??™, ???breakfast??™ and ???football??™. These turn into arvo, brekky and footy. A similar pattern can also be followed for other words like journo, from journalist, and hecky, from hectic, a noun for an aggressive, hard-drinking youth. The second, nicknames, are endearing variations on one??™s first or last name such as Whitey, from White, Johnno, from John, and Jezz, from Jeremy. The third form of Australianisms are incomplete comparisons, these include ???sweet as??™ and, similarly, ???sick as??™, expressing pleasure or approval.
The Australian accent is just as, if not more, Australian than our strine or colloquialisms, and it would simply be unthinkable to barbeque a shrimp without one. From 1788 it developed haphazardly from a mish-mash of British and Irish dialects. None, however, of the first generation of Australian born children would have spoken the dialects of their parents.
Dr. Bruce Moore: ???A speaker with some very pronounced dialect sounds might find it very much to their advantage to modify those sounds if they caused significant misunderstandings for the speakers of other dialects.??? He continues, ???…many of the really distinctive dialect variants that existed among the speakers of their [the children??™s] parents generation would have been eliminated. A process of dialect levelling would have taken place.???
Soon, Australian pronunciation splintered into three categories: Cultivated Australian, the accent of the well-educated, General Australian, the accent we recognise today, and Broad Australian, the accent of Strine. Cultivated Australian English, most similar to British Received Pronunciation, is now only spoken by 10% of the population and is on the decline. General Australian is spoken by 80% of the population and is a compromise between Cultivated and Broad. Broad Australian is spoken by 10% of the population and is the accent most commonly identified as stereotypically Australian.
However, even within the category General Australian, there exist regional variations. The most passionately disputed of these is the ???gra-ph or gra-rph dilemma??™. In South Australia and Victoria the word ???graph??™ is pronounced with a long ???a??™ sound, like that which one might make at the Dentist??™s, whereas in the other states the short ???a??™ sound, like that in the word ???tap??™ is pronounced. This dilemma also applies to words such as ???dance??™, ???grant??™, ???command??™ and so on. The long ???a??™ sound is most similar to Cultivated Australian, whilst the short ???a??™ sound is closer to Broad Australian.
I, personally, find the short ???a??™ to sound lazy and unsophisticated, but perhaps, because of our relaxed and laid-back nature, we just don??™t feel the need to pronounce words correctly. This is certainly the case with words like ???water??™ and ???running??™ and others similar, which turn into worda and runnin, respectively; and why not After all, it is our Language.
In 1987 the government report National Policy on Languages stated:
???Australian English is a dynamic and vital expression of the distinctiveness of Australian culture and an element of national identity.???
And, whatever the colour of your skin, whatever your culture, you would have to agree.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “Lingua Franca – Australian English: Australian Identity.” ABC.net.au. Web. 14 Mar. 2010.
Collins English Dictionary. “Bogan – Definition of Bogan by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.” Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus – The Free Dictionary. Web. 14 Mar. 2010.
Convict Creations. “Language and Identity in Australia.” Convict Creations – Thinking Different. Web. 14 Mar. 2010.
Harvey, Peter. “What Is Australian Culture | Peter Harvey |.” Big Think. Web. 14 Mar. 2010.
Moore, Dr. Bruce. “Power of Speech All Ours.” The Australian | The Heart of a Nation. The Australian. Web. 14 Mar. 2010.
Urban Dictionary. “Urban Dictionary: Ranga.” Urban Dictionary. Web. 14 Mar. 2010.
Wikipedia. “Australian English.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 14 Mar. 2010.
Wikipedia. “Demographics of Australia.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 14 Mar. 2010.
Dr. Bruce Moore.