The Australian accent is one of the main ways people recognise this variety of English, but there is definitely more than one way to speak English in Australia, and more than one type of Australian accent. Australian English does not show dramatic dialectal differences across the country, as you might hear in places like the United Kingdom, but there are subtle variations in pronunciation that you can tune into in different geographic regions. Cutting across this are the three recognised major subgroups of Australian English, for which accent is an important marker: Standard Australian English, Aboriginal English, and Ethnocultural Australian English, all with their own variation. People can also move between speaking different types of Australian English, depending on contextual and individual factors.


Reference: The Australian Voices website, by Felicity Cox and Sallyanne Palethorpe at Macquarie University, celebrates the many different ways of speaking Australian English. It has lots of information, audio clips, and examples about how the language is spoken now, and what it sounded like in the past. The Australian accent page is a good introductory summary.

Audio illustrations: Also on the Australian Voices site, you can find a detailed overview of some of the main pronunciation features that reveal an Australian accent, and some of the ways these vary for different speakers, with example audio clips. The page for the Australian Ancestors Project includes recordings of historical voices, and you can follow the timeline of accent change to find out more about the evolution of an accent.

Accent mapping:  Do you pronounce ‘celery’ and ‘salary’ the same way? How do you pronounce the ‘a’ in castle and dance? Well, it might depend on where you live in Australia – find out more on Macquarie University’s regional accents page.

Ethnocultural voices: Info on different ethnocultural varieties of Australian English, which have emerged among people whose families migrated from countries in which other languages were spoken. Hear some Lebanese Australian English and Vietnamese Australian English.

Classroom info:  Aboriginal English has a lot in common with other types of Australian English, but there are also distinctive features in the accent, vocabulary, grammar, and meaning used by speakers of this variety, and these can differ across the country.To learn all about Aboriginal English, including its history, use, and linguistic features, see this description of Aboriginal English written by Diana Eades.