The Australian FlagAs per Melbourne’s Herald Sun, a pair of Australian universities are working on a project called “AusTalk,” which will compile a database of 1000 speakers of Australian English. When finished, it will be one of the most comprehensive English accent collections outside of the United Kingdom. Good stuff!

You might be asking the question, “do we really need 1000 recordings of the same voice?” I’sn’t Australia one of those “new countries” where everybody shares the same dialect? What’s next? A Canadian accent bank?

To be blunt, I think the notion that all Australians talk alike is a myth, and a British imperialist one at that. There is certainly less varation in the speech of Americans, Canadians and Aussies than in the UK, but after hearing one too many Brit claim, ludicrously, that “all Americans speak alike,” such statements strike me as lazy relics of English colonialism.

But that’s a rant for another day. The bottom line is if you’re a native Australian, check out AusTalk’s website to see how you can get involved in this fantastic project.


About Ben

Ben T. Smith launched his dialect fascination while working in theatre. He has worked as an actor, playwright, director, critic and dialect coach. Other passions include linguistics, urban development, philosophy and film.
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2 Responses to AusTalk

  1. AUDIO NOIR says:

    i was in australia about 3 months ago and what really struck me was how much of the vocabulary is clearly american even though the accent itself is not. especially amongst people below the age of 20 it’s real noticeable. most especially i was surprised by how many (mostly male) australians pronounced ‘hundred’ as ‘hunnerd’ even doing so rhotically. that pronunciation has always been completely unique to american english (including parts of canada) and it was really strange to hear it in such a different accent. like the british, however, australians become highly offended when you point this fact out to them and i figured out very quickly not to do so. as well, it seems that so many americanisms have passed into standard english (“okay” being the best example) that i honestly think people in other countries who use them aren’t even aware of their origin and as such will argue vociferously when you attempt to point that out.

  2. Untrilled R says:

    Ive never heard hundred pronounced that way, and Im not far out of that age. And have worked in trades/careers where you are going to hear people say it on a daily (at least) basis.

    A few words, like battery, are shifting in younger ages towards the Americanised pronunciation, but the trend doesnt really apply overall. Also keep in mind that Australians are well acquainted with American/British terms and can and do use them around people from other countries.

    For example noones going to tell the foreigner that they are going to “shoot through” (leave).

    Noones going to ask the foreigner what they want for “smoko” (a kind of snack break).