Australian and New Zealand English


History

The arrival of English in Australia coincides with the start of British colonization in 1788, Australia being used solely as a penal colony for many years. The vast majority of Australia's English-speaking population were convicts up until around 1840. Most convicts came from London, the English Midlands and Ireland, and Australian English has many similarities with these varieties, pronunciation being particularly close to Cockney.

Pronunciation

Australian English is often known as 'Strine' (from Australian), a which embodies a couple of the main differences in Australian pronunciation and vocabulary: truncation and the change in the 'ei' diphthong:

Vocabulary

Distinctive Australian vocabulary derives from three main sources: Aboriginal terms (especially for the typical animals and wildlife of the country), English terms which are now forgotten in Britain and elsewhere (often regional or dialect terms), and truncated words with an added vowel ending (eg. 'tinnie' - a can/tin of beer, a 'sickie' - a day off sick, or a 'smoko' - a [smoking] break). See the lists below.

Variation

Despite its size, there is very little regional variation within Australia. There are, however, stronger and weaker accents; the weaker ones tend to be fairly close to R.P.

 


New Zealand English

Pronunciation

New Zealand English has been so heavily influenced by Australian English that only Australasians can tell themselves apart on pronunciation alone, though rarely do New Zealand speakers have a very strong accent. More specifically:

Vocabulary

Alongside some Australian borrowings, the main distinctive feature of New Zealand vocabulary is the group of loanwords from Maori, particularly for flora and fauna.

 

The Vocabulary of Australian and New Zealand English

ABORIGINAL BORROWINGS

billabong (a river channel)

boomerang

dingo (a wild dog)

kangaroo

koala

kookaburra (a kind of bird)

wallaby

wombat (a bear-like mammal)

Truncated Words in Australian English

arvo afternoon

beaut beauty / beautiful

garbie garbage collector

gladdie gladioli

muso music student

truckie truck driver

uni university

wharfie wharf labourer

OTHER AUSTRALIAN VOCABULARY

dinkum

genuine

footpath

pavement

goodday

hello

hooray

goodbye

outback

inland area

paddock

field

pommy

Briton

sedan

saloon car

sheila (slang)

girl

station

farm/ranch

stockman

cattle farmer

stroller

push-chair

swagman

itinerant worker

(picture)theatre

cinema

Maori Borrowings in New Zealand English

haka (a war dance)

hongi (a way of greeting)

kauri (a tree)

kiwi (a bird / a fruit)

pakeha (white European)

takahe (a bird)

toi toi (a plant)

whare (small house)

  

© Nigel J. Ross, 2003


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