Varieties of English. Australian English


Term Paper, 2011
19 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Excerpt

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Is Australian English a variety on its own right?

2. History of Australia

3. Australia
3.1.Development of the English language in Australia
3.1.1. Arrival (1788 - ca. 1830s)
3.1.2. Expansion (ca. 1830s – 1901)
3.1.3. Dependent Independence (1901 – 1942)
3.1.4. Independence (1942 – ca. 1980s)
3.1.5. Varieties of Australian English (ca. 1980s - )
3.1.5.1.Aboriginal English
3.1.5.2.Migrant English
3.1.5.3.Australian English
3.2.Concrete linguistic features
3.2.1. Pronunciation
3.2.2. Intonation
3.2.3. Consonants
3.2.4. Vowels
3.2.5. Grammar
3.2.6. Vocabulary

4. Analysis of an example
4.1.Pronunciation
4.2.Intonation
4.3.Consonants and Vowels
4.4.Grammar
4.5.Vocabulary
4.6.Conclusion of the analysis

5. Conclusion: Australian English is a variety on its own right

6. Bibliography

7. Appendix

1. Introduction: Is Australian English a variety on its own right?

Looking at the English language in Australia with its short history of 200 years, the question arises whether Australian English can already be seen as a variety on its own right. To find a competent answer to this question one has to consider the linguistic development of the language as well as the concrete linguistic features which occur in this variety. The linguistic development is intimately connected with the historical background of a country. Thus in a first part of this term paper a short overview on the history of Australia is given to build the fundament for the following analysis of the linguistic development of the English language in Australia. Then the concrete linguistic features are evaluated and applied in the practical part of this term paper. So, as a last step, the question, whether Australian English has the status of being a variety on its own right, can be answered.

2. History of Australia

The arrival of James Cook in Botany Bay in 1770 was the starting point of the triumphal procession of the English language in Australia. Only eighteen years later a panel colony was established in Port Jackson, which is today´s Sydney in New South Wales. Since 1793 an increasing number of free settlers arrived. At first they were only a few people, but not till 1840 they outnumbered the convicts and the number of Europeans in Australia increased steadily. During the 19th century the area of white settlement expanded from New South Wales and as a consequence the Aborigines were displaced and their number extremely reduced. In 1851 gold was found in Victoria, hence this lead to a migration movement. When in 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was founded, the policy of a White Australia was pursued. But since 1970 immigration restrictions were eased and thus the number of migrants from Europe has declined, while the migrants from Asia countries have increased. This paved the way for a multicultural society in Australia.1

Of course the history of a country has always an enormous impact on its language. So this short historical background will built the fundament for the understanding of origins, evolution and linguistic features of the Australian language, which are analyzed in the following term paper.

3. Australia

3.1. Development of the English language in Australia

The development of the English language in Australia is classified in five phases as in Edgar W. Schneider´s Postcolonial English. Varieties around the world.2 This model of classification was chosen for this term paper, because it connects history and linguistic development of the English language in Australia in a logical order.

3.1.1. Arrival (1788 – ca. 1830s)

The English language was brought to Australia by the convicts and their escort and later also by the arrival of the English settlers in the colonies. The convicts and settlers of the white community “came from various parts of Great Britain, but above all from the south-east region of England”3, “especially London”4 and also from Ireland5. As a consequence “[d]iversity was present from the first”6, because “many characteristic features of AE [Australian English] are derived from a small number of dialects whose speakers were numerically dominant in the early years of colonisation.”7 One example is Cockney, a dialect spoken in London by the working class, from which noticeable parallels still exist in today´s Broad Australian, as for instance “the chain- shift pattern in long vowels”8. This can be traced back to the beginnings of colonization. But nevertheless, “AE was not simply a transplanted equivalent of any single English dialect. Rather it was a new development, with some features traceable to some dialects of England”9. So it gets obvious that the “Melting pot” theories alone, which indicate that AE is just a mixture of different dialects building a new one,10 is not sufficient.

But there were not only influences of regional differences on the English language in Australia but also of social differences. Since the beginning of white settlement in Australia, deep social differences were present within the white community. Members of higher social ranks, as for example officers, administration officials or rich settlers, differed from the lower social class amongst others because of their education. And this got audible by the use of Received Pronunciation (RP) by the members of the upper class. Consequently during this time period RP was seen as standard for AE.11

3.1.2. Expansion (ca. 1830s – 1901)

In this phase “English continued to expand regionally, and thus to be rooted in new parts of Australia.”12 As a result of this development the English language also “spread gradually among the Aboriginals”13 as the indigenous population got dependent upon the settlers. But nevertheless there were as well borrowings from Aboriginal languages, as in the field of toponymy, flora, fauna and different elements of indigenous culture and environment14, which are analysed more detailed in chapter 3.2.6.

3.1.3. Dependent Independence (1901 – 1942)

In 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was established, which is a federation of all British colonies in Australia plus Tasmania. So Australia got independent from its mother country Britain, but nevertheless “remained closely associated with Britain”15 in many areas. Thus one can say this was only a formal independence from Britain, the so called dependent independence16.

In Australia itself bilingualism became normal upon Aboriginals, but the downside of this development was the extinction and the endangering of their languages. English on the other hand remained unchallenged.17

3.1.4. Independence (1942 – ca. 1980s)

In phase 4 World War II played an important role in the self-concept of Australia. During this war Australia had to experience, that Britain did not feel responsible for its former colony anymore.18 The crucial experience was in 1942 when

“Australia was left unprotected against the threat of a Japanese attack after the fall of Singapore. To the population this event made it clear that there was a markedly disproportional relationship between themselves and the mother country with respect to their mutual importance for each other”19.

This lead to a new founded national identity, which means that Australia´s population, concentrated more on their own territory and the former dependent independence was replaced by real independence. They were geared away from their European roots towards their neighboring region, the Asian countries. Another effect was the end of the White Australian policy, which had restricted immigration to migrants from Europe. Thus this paved the way for a multicultural society, as mentioned in chapter 2. Moreover, the focus on their own territory attracted notice of the indigenous population and their rights got a major issue in Australian politics.20 Organizations like the School of Australian Linguistics or the Institute for Aboriginal Development 21 try to persevere the indigenous languages. At that time Australia is not only viewed as a self-dependant nation from overseas, but feels like one. This also changed their view on their own language. Before their upcoming self-awareness, “AE was denigrated by Australia´s elites as ´bad English´ which was ugly, monotonous, lazy, slovenly, and unpleasant”22, but this picture changed and is changing to a more positive one, with which the population identifies. The growing body of literature in Australia is another hint for the increasing identification with this variety, as well as the Macquarie Dictionary, which is the new national dictionary of Australia.23

A very remarkable element of AE is its homogeneity in linguistic characteristics, especially considering the enormous size of the country. The reasons for this homogeneity are due to migration backgrounds in Australia itself. The starting point of the first migration movements was Sydney. From this center the colonies were established and regular exchanges of prisoners between them lead to a leveling process within the language. Just as the gold rush in 1851 and the general high mobility of the working class enhanced the regular mixture of English, which lead to the spread of the same language.24

3.1.5. Varieties of Australian English (1980s -)

In the present phase 5 an “ongoing birth of new dialects”25 can be observed. But in literature this is not yet adequate researched and recorded, so further investigations have to be pursued on this topic. Nevertheless there are progresses towards a beginning development of regional differences of linguistic features in Australia.

Today three big varieties of English exist in Australia, which depend on social groups. These are Aboriginal, Migrant and Australian English.

3.1.5.1. Aboriginal English

The first one, Aboriginal English is spoken by the Offspring of the Aborigines. It has developed by the contact with whites from a lower social class, which is the reason why it implies elements of White Nonstandard English. A consequence of this fact is that it is negative valued by whites. Nevertheless, it is symbolic for the Aborigine´s identification with their roots and origin.26

3.1.5.2. Migrant English

Migrant English is spoken by migrants from non-English motherlands, so their language is influenced by their mother tongue, age, education and social contacts. As Aboriginal English this variety is also symbolic for the identification with their national group. The general tendency of Migrant English is the transfer of characteristics of the mother tongue into AE. For example lexical transfers, if there are no equivalent words, or the adaption of syntactical features. But these are often only tendencies, which disappear in the second generation.27

3.1.5.3. Australian English

Australian English is the expression for the clearly dominating variety of English which is spoken by native speakers of AE. Differences within AE become apparent from a social aspect. Three social types can be distinguished: Cultivated (Educated), General and Broad Australian. The fundament of this classification is formed by the different pronunciation of special vowels and diphthongs.28

The first one, Cultivated or Educated Australian, is relatively close to RP and it is spoken by a minority of the population. Nevertheless, it is the variety “which carries overt prestige. It is one associated with females, private elite schools, gentility, and an English heritage.”29 Broad Australian on the other hand is its antipode. It “carries covert prestige and is associated with males, the uneducated, commonness, and republicanism.”30 Its identifying feature is the slower realization of vowels. General Australian presents the midway between the two aforesaid varieties. General is spoken by the majority and it sounds clearly Australian, but it is not as extreme as Broad.31

3.2 . Concrete linguistic features

Now the most salient linguistic features of Australian English are to be analyzed, because they define this variety.

3.2.1. Pronunciation

The first striking characteristic of AE is, that the intonation handles with a narrower range of pitch and the tempo of this variety is noticeably slow in comparison to other varieties of English. 32

[...]


1 comp. Viereck, Wolfgang; Karin Viereck, Heinrich Ramisch. 2002. dtv-Atlas Englische Sprache. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag 225.

2 Schneider, W. Edgar. 2007. Postcolonial English. Varieties around the world. New York: Cambridge University Press.

3 Melchers, Gunnel; Philip Shaw. 2003. World Englishes. An introduction. London: Arnold. 101.

4 Schneider, W. Edgar. 2007. Postcolonial English. Varieties around the world. New York: Cambridge University Press. 119.

5 comp. Schneider 119.

6 Guy, Gregory R. 1991. “Australia.” In Jenny Cheshire (Hg.). English around the World. Sociolinguistic perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 217.

7 Guy 217.

8 Guy 217.

9 Guy 218.

10 comp. Kiesing, Scott F. 2004. “English input to Australia”. In Raymond Hickel (Hg.). Legacies of Colonial English. Studies in transported dialects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 428 f.

11 comp. Viereck, Wolfgang; Karin Viereck, Heinrich Ramisch. 2002. dtv-Atlas Englische Sprache. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. 231.

12 Schneider, W. Edgar. 2007. Postcolonial English. Varieties around the world. New York: Cambridge University Press. 120.

13 Schneider 120.

14 comp. Schneider 120 f.

15 Schneider 121.

16 comp. Schneider 123.

17 Schneider 121 f.

18 Schneider, W. Edgar. 2007. Postcolonial English. Varieties around the world. New York: Cambridge University Press. 122 f.

19 comp. Schneider 122 f.

20 comp. Schneider 123 ff.

21 comp. Viereck, Wolfgang; Karin Viereck, Heinrich Ramisch. 2002. dtv-Atlas Englische Sprache. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. 231.

22 Clyne, Michael. 1997. “Pluricentric languages and national identity – an antipodean view.” In Edgar W. Schneider (Hg.). Englishes around the World. Volume 2 Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Australia. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co. 290.

23 comp. Schneider, W. Edgar. 2007. Postcolonial English. Varieties around the world. New York: Cambridge University Press. 123 ff.

24 comp. Guy, Gregory R. 1991. “Australia.” In Jenny Cheshire (Hg.). English around the World. Sociolinguistic perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 218 f. comp. Kiesing, Scott F. 2004. “English input to Australia”. In Raymond Hickel (Hg.). Legacies of Colonial English. Studies in transported dialects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 428 f.

25 Schneider, W. Edgar. 2007. Postcolonial English. Varieties around the world. New York: Cambridge University Press. 125.

26 comp. Viereck, Wolfgang; Karin Viereck, Heinrich Ramisch. 2002. dtv-Atlas Englische Sprache. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. 229.

Further reading about Aboriginal English:

Melchers, Gunnel; Philip Shaw. 2003. World Englishes. An introduction. London: Arnold. 103 f. comp. Kiesing, Scott F. 2004. “English input to Australia”. In Raymond Hickel (Hg.). Legacies of

Colonial English. Studies in transported dialects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 432 ff.

27 comp. Viereck, Wolfgang; Karin Viereck, Heinrich Ramisch. 2002. dtv-Atlas Englische Sprache. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. 229.

28 comp. Viereck, Wolfgang; Karin Viereck, Heinrich Ramisch. 2002. dtv-Atlas Englische Sprache. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. 229.

29 Gramley, Stephan E. Kurt-Michael Pätzold. 1992. A Survey of Modern English. London: Routledge. 397.

30 Gramley 397.

31 comp. Gramley 396 f.

32 comp. Gramley 396.

Excerpt out of 19 pages

Details

Title
Varieties of English. Australian English
College
University of Würzburg  (PHILOSOPHISCHE FAKULTÄT I)
Course
Varieties of English
Grade
1,3
Author
Year
2011
Pages
19
Catalog Number
V471458
ISBN (eBook)
9783668973435
ISBN (Book)
9783668973442
Language
English
Tags
Australia, Australian, English, Varieties of English, Varieties, Linguistics, Contrast, Language, Sprachwissenschaft, Vergleich, Australien, Variation des Englischen, Variation
Quote paper
Sarah Wenzel (Author), 2011, Varieties of English. Australian English, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/471458

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