Thursday, August 12, 2010

Variation in Australian English

Australian English is considered a relatively uniform type of English. The English spoken in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane is very similar. In fact, it is so similar that Australians cannot distinguish the English of one city from another. However, they can distinguish the city accent from the rural accent.

The English which is spoken in cities tends to be closer to standard British English than that spoken in rural areas. However, it is important to note that few Australians today speak a variety of English that could be mistaken for British. The intonation and vowel qualities of Australian English are remarkably different from British.

One area in which Australian English exhibits variation is in the pronunciation of the intervocalic /t/ or /d/. In the word "butter," the "tt" can be pronounced as a voiceless alveolar plosive, as a voiced alveolar plosive or as an alveolar flap. The use of the voiceless alveolar plosive is most typical of a city accent.

Another sound which varies occurs in words such as "day" and "say." This diphthong can be pronounced as in standard British English. In this case, the first component of the diphthong is a mid front unrounded tense vowel. However, the diphthong can also be pronounced similarly to the diphthong in the word "side." The latter pronunciation is more characteristic of a rural accent but is also heard in city accents. This diphthong can vary so significantly that many speakers use a pronunciation in which the first component of the diphthong has an intermediate quality between the mid front unrounded and low back rounded vowels.

Also notable in its variation is the vowel in words such as "car" and "park." It can be pronounced as in standard British English. In this case, the vowel is a low back rounded vowel. However, the vowel can also be a low mid unrounded vowel as in the word "up." In this case, the vowel has a longer duration than in the vowel of "up." These speakers tend to distinguish words such as "cut" and "cart" simply by vowel duration. For them vowel length is indeed phonemic. The standard British pronunciation is typical of a city accent.

Though Australian English is remarkably uniform, speakers exhibit a certain degree of variation. This variation is particularly noticeable in intervocalic alveolar plosives, diphthongs and vowels. The most significant variation occurs in the difference between the city accent and the rural one.

2 comments:

冠陳儒 said...
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孫邦柔 said...
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