English spoken in Australia is distinct from other varieties of English spoken around the world, such as in the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand – in each of these places, the particular combination of historical and sociocultural factors has influenced the direction English has taken. Australian English has evolved from a mixture of sources, beginning mainly with the dialects spoken by colonists arriving from south-eastern England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales towards the end of the 18th century. Since then, there have been influences from Indigenous languages and from many different migrant languages, in addition to natural processes of language change. Australian English today is quite different to the Australian English you can hear on some of the sites below, and continues to grow and change.
Sound bites from the past: You can listen to recordings of historical voices from the Australian Ancestors Project on Macquarie University’s Australian Voices website, and hear key words revealing some of the pronunciation changes that have taken place as Australian English evolved.
Timeline: Also on Macquarie University’s Australian Voices website, you can be taken through a timeline of accent change, showing key events in Australian history which have shaped the accent since colonisation.
Resource packs: The Australian National Dictionary Centre has lots of online materials useful for students and teachers, including:
- A list of meanings and origins of Australian words and idioms
- Information about some of the major sources for Australian words, and historical events that have shaped the language, including various British English influences, borrowings from Indigenous languages, and vocabulary during the convict era, gold rush and wartime.
- A full resource pack for teachers, students and researchers on the gold rushes and Australian English
- A detailed glossary of slang and terminology used by Australian soldiers fighting in the Middle East and Europe between 1921-1924.