Below is a short quiz about Australian English and Australia in general. You will find some of the answers in the text that you have just read, but not all of them ...
Listen and discuss:
Linguists often divide the Australian accent into three: Broad, General and Cultivated accents. However, it is important to remember that this is a continuum and not fixed categories, and you will find great variations within each category.
Below, you will find links to videos of five Australians with different Australian accents. Listen to the accents and try to point out their differences and similarities.
Hugh Jackman (Australian actor, singer, and producer) Link to Hugh Jackman's opening number for the 2009 Oscar.
Steve Irwin (wildlife expert). Link to interview with 'The Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin
Cate Blanchett (actor) Link to Cate Blanchett's acceptance speech at the 2014 BAFTA Awards
Julia Gilliard (first female Prime Minister of Australia) Link to former prime minister Julia Gillard's speech
Geoffrey Rush (actor). Link to Geoffrey Rush interview
Where would you place these accents on the Australian English continuum, ranging from Broad to Cultivated?
What are the main differences between the accents? Pay attention to the use of vowels and diphthongs. Do any of them use any slang or diminutives?
Australian English is often described as having very distinct and pronounced diphthongs. Listen to how Hugh Jackman pronounces 'Australia' and 'Australian'. How would his pronunciation differ from someone from England, for example?
Imagine that Steve Irwin and Cate Blanchett switched accents. Would it change the way you view them? Can an accent express more than just the words that are used in a conversation?
Key to question 1:
Cultivated accent: Geoffrey Rush and Cate Blanchett
General accent: Hugh Jackman
Broad accent: Julia Gilliard and Steve Irwin, with the latter being the broadest.
Just like other variants of English, Australian English has its fair share of idiomatic expressions. Below you will find a list of idioms. Discuss with a partner what you think the idioms mean, then use the internet to look up the meaning.
to have a Captain Cook
a few sandwiches short of a picnic
a fair crack of the whip
wrap your laughing gear 'round that
go off like a frog in a sock
a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock
mad as a cut snake
I could eat a horse and chase the rider
face like a smashed crab
going off like a bucket of prawns in the sun
Would you understand it if someone told you that "S'arvo me and my mates from Brissy are gettin’ together to have a barbie and watch the footy" or "For brekkie I had an avo, a sanga and a couple of bikkies"?
Diminutives are an important part of Australian English and are used by practically every Australian on a regular basis. These are not words you would include in a formal text, but if you ever visit Australia, knowing a few of them would be useful.
It's time to practice your diminutives:
Individual work: Write 10 sentences using as many Australian diminutives as you can. If you are able to, make your sentences into a coherent text.
The websites below have lists of Australian diminutives:
Link to Wikipedia: Diminutives in Australian English
Link to Wikiwand: Diminutives in Australian English
In pairs or small groups: read the sentences aloud and have the others guess the meaning of the sentences.
If you were to visit Australia, which of these diminutives do you think it would be useful to know?