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Australian English

Australian English
Region Australia
Native speakers
15.6 million in Australia (2006 census)
3.5 million L2 speakers of English in Australia (Crystal 2003)
Latin (English alphabet)
Unified English Braille
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None
IETF en-AU

Australian English (AuE, en-AU) is a major variety of the English language, used throughout Australia. Although English has no official status in the Constitution, Australian English is the country's de facto official language and is the first language of the majority of the population.

Australian English began to diverge from British English after the founding of the Colony of New South Wales in 1788 and was recognised as being different from British English by 1820. It arose from the intermingling of early settlers from a great variety of mutually intelligible dialectal regions of the British Isles and quickly developed into a distinct variety of English.

Australian English differs from other varieties of English in vocabulary, accent, pronunciation, register, grammar and spelling.

The earliest form of Australian English was first spoken by the children of the colonists born into the colony of New South Wales. This first generation of children created a new dialect that was to become the language of the nation. The Australian-born children in the new colony were exposed to a wide range of dialects from all over the British Isles, in particular from Ireland and South East England.

The native-born children of the colony created the new dialect from the speech they heard around them, and with it expressed peer solidarity. Even when new settlers arrived, this new dialect was strong enough to blunt other patterns of speech.


short vowels long vowels
monophthongs diphthongs
IPA examples
ʊ foot, hood, chook
ɪ kit, bid, hid,
e dress, led, head
ə comma, about, winter
æ trap, lad, had
ɐ strut, bud, hud
ɔ lot, cloth, hot
IPA examples
ʉː goose, boo, who’d
fleece, bead, heat
square, bared, haired
ɜː nurse, bird, heard
æː bag, tan, bad
ɐː start, palm, bath
thought, north, force
IPA examples
ʊə cure, lure, tour
ɪə near, beard, hear
æɔ mouth, bowed, how’d
əʉ goat, bode, hoed
æɪ face, bait, hade
ɑe price, bite, hide
choice, boy, oil
IPA examples
ʊ foot, hood, chook
ɪ kit, bid, hid,
e dress, led, head
ə comma, about, winter
æ trap, lad, had
ɐ strut, bud, hud
ɔ lot, cloth, hot
IPA examples
ʉː goose, boo, who’d
fleece, bead, heat
square, bared, haired
ɜː nurse, bird, heard
æː bag, tan, bad
ɐː start, palm, bath
thought, north, force
IPA examples
ʊə cure, lure, tour
ɪə near, beard, hear
æɔ mouth, bowed, how’d
əʉ goat, bode, hoed
æɪ face, bait, hade
ɑe price, bite, hide
choice, boy, oil
Consonant phonemes of Australian English
  Bilabial Labio-
dental
Dental Alveolar Post-
alveolar
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal   m           n           ŋ    
Plosive p b         t d         k ɡ    
Affricate                            
Fricative     f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ         h  
Approximant               r       j   w    
Lateral               l (ɫ)                
Variation in Australian closing diphthongs
Diaphoneme Lexical set Cultivated General Broad
/iː/ FLEECE [ɪi] [ɪi] [əːɪ]
/eɪ/ FACE [ɛɪ] [ɐ̟ɪ] [ɐ̟ːɪ, a̠ːɪ]
/aɪ/ PRICE [a̠ɪ̞] [ɒɪ̞] [ɒːɪ̞]
/uː/ GOOSE [ʊu] [ïɯ, ʊʉ] [əːʉ]
/oʊ/ GOAT [ö̞ʊ] [ɐ̟ʉ] [ɐ̟ːʉ, a̠ːʉ]
/aʊ/ MOUTH [a̠ʊ] [æo] [ɛːo, ɛ̃ːɤ]

  • Australian English
  • Mitchell, Alexander G., 1995, The Story of Australian English, Sydney: Dictionary Research Centre.
  • Ozwords—free newsletter from the Australian National Dictionary Centre, which includes articles on Australian English
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Wikipedia

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