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Unit 4: Language variation and identity

In this unit students focus on the role of language in establishing and challenging different identities. There are many varieties of English used in contemporary Australian society, including national, regional, cultural and social variations. Standard Australian English is the variety that is granted prestige in contemporary Australian society and it has a role in establishing national identity. However, non-Standard English varieties also play a role in constructing users’ social and cultural identities. Students examine a range of texts to explore the ways different identities are constructed. These texts include extracts from novels, lms or television programs, poetry, letters and emails, transcripts of spoken interaction, songs, advertisements, speeches and bureaucratic or of cial documents.

Students explore how our sense of identity evolves in response to situations and experiences and is in uenced by how we see ourselves and how others see us. Through our language we express ourselves as individuals and signal our membership of particular groups. Students explore how language can distinguish between ‘us’ and ‘them’, creating solidarity and reinforcing social distance.

Area of Study 1
Language variation in Australian society

This area of study enables students to examine the range of language varieties that exist in contemporary Australian society and the contributions these varieties make to a construction of shared national identity. Australian English has much in common with Englishes from other continents, but the language has also developed features across all subsystems of language that distinguish it from other Englishes.

Students explore how the Broad, General and Cultivated Australian accents re ect the society from which they emerged and the forms that achieved social prestige over time. However, Australia is not linguistically uniform, and contemporary texts in both written and spoken modes both challenge and construct notions of what it means to be Australian and what might be meant by ‘national identity’. Increasing global contact, the in uence of modern technologies and other social changes are shaping contemporary Australian English, and attitudes towards Australian language continue to evolve.

Students examine how Standard Australian English, as the variety of Australian English afforded prestige by public institutions, has played a pivotal role in establishing the legitimacy of Australian English in comparison to other national varieties of English. They explore how the non-Standard English varieties operating in Australia provide further dimensions to Australian English. They consider variation between regions, a range of migrant ethnolects, and Aboriginal Englishes, in addition to exploring how the language features associated with stereotypes may be adopted subconsciously or deliberately employed to establish or challenge identities.

Outcome 1

On completion of this unit the student should be able to investigate and analyse varieties of Australian English and attitudes towards them.

To achieve this outcome the student will draw on key knowledge and key skills outlined in Area of Study 1.

Key knowledge

  • the role of Standard and non-Standard English in Australian society

  • the ways in which a variety of Australian identities are constructed and re ected in a range of texts

  • the characteristics of Australian English in contrast to Englishes from other continents, in phonological, morphological, lexical, and grammatical patterns

  • the features of Broad, General and Cultivated Australian English accents

  • how Australian English varies according to geography, including national and regional variation

  • how Australian English varies according to culture, including Aboriginal English and ethnolects

  • attitudes within society to different varieties of Australian English, including prescriptivism and descriptivism

  • the role of language in constructing national identity

  • metalanguage to discuss varieties of Australian English.

    Key skills

  • use key linguistic concepts and metalanguage appropriately to discuss language variation and identity in Australia in an objective and a systematic way

  • use key concepts and metalanguage appropriately to analyse attitudes to varieties of Australian English in an objective and a systematic way

  • investigate and analyse how Australian identity is constructed and re ected in a range of written and spoken texts.

    • social and personal variation in language according to factors such as age, gender, occupation, interests, aspirations and education

    • features of language that contribute to a sense of individual identity and group membership

    • representations of individual and group identities in a range of texts


    Area of Study 2
    Individual and group identities

    In this area of study students focus on the role of language in re ecting and constructing individual and group identities. They examine how language users are able to play different roles within speech communities and to construct their identities through subconscious and conscious language variation, according to age, gender, occupation, interests, aspiration and education. While individual identity can be derived from the character traits that make us unique, our social identities are drawn from membership of particular groups. Students investigate how, as individuals, we make language choices that draw on our understanding of social expectations and community attitudes.

    Students examine overt and covert norms in speech communities. They consider how knowing and being able to exploit overt norms – which are typically associated with Standard English – allows users to construct a prestigious identity associated with their class, education, occupation, social status and aspirations. They also consider how covert norms – those that are given prestige by local groups and are typically associated with non- Standard English – can be powerful in constructing identities, establishing those who use them as members of the ‘in’ group, while those who are unable to conform are cast as outsiders. The language features associated with jargon and slang also provide a powerful basis for inclusion and exclusion.

    Students learn how societal attitudes, personal associations and individual prejudices can lead to social disadvantage and discrimination against use of non-Standard English dialects and accents.


    Outcome 2

    On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse how people’s choice of language re ects and constructs their identities.

    To achieve this outcome the student will draw on key knowledge and key skills outlined in Area of Study 2.

  • Key knowledge
  • the ways in which the language of individuals and the language of groups is shaped by social expectations and community attitudes

  • the ways in which people draw on their linguistic repertoire to gain power and prestige, including exploiting overt and covert norms

  • the relationship between social attitudes and language choices

  • metalanguage to discuss representations of identity in texts.

    Key skills

  • use key linguistic concepts and metalanguage appropriately to discuss the relationship between language variation and identity for both individuals and groups in an objective and a systematic way

  • use key concepts and metalanguage appropriately to analyse attitudes to varieties of English in contemporary Australian society in an objective and a systematic way

  • explain and analyse how group and individual identities are constructed and re ected in a range of written and spoken texts.


    School-based assessment Satisfactory completion
  • The award of satisfactory completion for a unit is based on whether the student has demonstrated the set of outcomes speci ed for the unit. Teachers should use a variety of learning activities and assessment tasks to provide a range of opportunities for students to demonstrate the key knowledge and key skills in the outcomes.

    The areas of study and key knowledge and key skills listed for the outcomes should be used for course design and the development of learning activities and assessment tasks.




Australian slang - a story of Australian English

Slang can be seen as a demonstration of how experience shapes language and also how language shapes identity.

An unidentified Australian soldier, probably of the 10th Light Horse, on sentry duty with bayonet attached to his rifle, listening to music playing on the highly prized possession of a gramophone. Gallipoli Peninsula, 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial: A05402.

Australia's every day language is rich with slang that reflects experiences from the country's history. From borrowings of Aboriginal language words, through convict sources, the gold rushes and bushranging to the First World War, words have emerged to describe essential aspects of the Australian character and identity.

Kangaroo was borrowed even prior to colonisation. The convicts gave us 'muster', 'bolter', 'rollup' and 'servants of the crown'. Bush rangers gave us the 'bush telegraph'. A key part of the Australian psyche, 'the digger', came out of the First World War, the term adapted from its use in the gold rushes.

Australian slang utilised humour, wit, rhymes, flash language, the bizarre experiences of the bush and the beach, the familiar and the personal to realise terms that could describe experiences that were often new or transforming. For example, 'having a bash' at something is similar to 'giving it a burl', and both phrases reflect a history of Australian improvisation and hard work as part of working in the bush.

The Australian idiom or vernacular

Sydney Baker, author of a number of works about slang, believed that the Australian's 'greatest talent is for idiomatic invention. It is a manifestation of our vitality and restless imagination'.

Section of a glossary of Australian terms, 1936, Allan & Co. Image courtesy of National Library of Australia.

Amanda Laugesen, in her study of the slang of the First World War, reminds us of how slang reinforced a sense of national identity among Australian troops far away from home, fighting in countries where people spoke foreign languages. In the Second World War, 'Don't come the raw prawn' was used and is still used to warn off someone when they attempt to impose their will.

Australian slang contributes to a vocabulary that most Australians understand, and what could be called the Australian 'idiom' or 'vernacular'. There are a number of dictionaries devoted to documenting both past and present Australian slang or colloquialisms. Even so, determining the exact definition of an Australian colloquialism will always lead to a lively and interesting debate.

Substitutions, comparisons and abbreviations

One of the most common forms of slang is through substitution and comparison. One form of substitution is when rhyming slang removes one part of a phrase and replaces it with a word that rhymes. For example to 'have a Captain Cook' means to have a look. Substitution could also include a 'metaphor', where one word or idea stands in for another. There is no town in Australia called 'Woop Woop', however it has been a popular and evocative byword for a remote location, and has been in use since the 1900s.

Barbecue at Kwinana siding, 1959. Photo by William Prince. Image courtesy of the Department of the Environment.

Colloquialisms that take the form of a comparison often raise startling images, for example:

  • 'flat out like a lizard drinking' (working very hard on a task) or

  • 'standing like a bandicoot on a burnt ridge' (feeling lonely and vulnerable).

  • dazed and confused, someone will wander 'like a stunned mullet';

  • in a furious rage, they will be 'mad as a cut snake' and,

  • in a state of undeniable lifelessness they will be 'dead as a maggot'.

Australians also demonstrate a strong impulse to abbreviate and alter word endings, resulting in 'barbie' for barbecue, 'arvo' for afternoon, 'cossie' for swimming costume and 'blowie' for blowfly.

Aboriginal languages

One of the most important influences on Australian English has been Aboriginal languages. There are a number of Aboriginal words that have been adopted colloquially within Australian English, for example 'boomerang', 'humpy' or 'corroboree'. One of the first words collected was kangaroo.

In 1770 Captain James Cook was forced to beach the Endeavour for repairs near present-day Cooktown, after the ship had been damaged on reefs. He and Joseph Banks collected a number of Aboriginal words from the local Guugu Yimidhirr people ... On 12 July 1770 Banks recorded in his journal 'Kill Kanguru', and on 4 August Cook wrote: 'the Animal which I have before mentioned called by the natives Kangooroo or Kanguru'.
Bruce Moore 

When the First Fleet arrived in 1788 there were some 250 distinct languages, and at least 600 dialects amongst Australian Aborigines. In the first 100 years of European colonisation about 400 words were borrowed into Australian English from some 80 languages.

John Howard Preston, Aboriginal camp. Four figures and Gunyah in Queensland, 1893. Image courtesy of Queensland Library.

The Dharuk language was spoken in the area around Sydney, and this language provided a large number of words recorded between 1788 and 1803. They include: boomerang (1790), corroboree (1790), dingo (1789), gunyah (1803), koala (1798), nulla-nulla (1790), waddy (1790), wallaby (1798), waratah (1788), warrigal (1790), wombat (1798) and woomera (1793).

As exploration and settlement spread out, language borrowings from further afield included the Kamilaroi language of eastern New South Wales (NSW): brolga (1896), budgerigar (1840) and bora (1850). Borrowings from the Yuwaalaraay language of northern NSW include: bilby (1885) and galah (1862). Borrowings from the Wiradhuri languages of south-western NSW include: corella (1859), gang-gang (1833), kookaburra (1834) and quandong (1836).

Other hybrid words have emerged through a 'pidgin' or early adaptation of English words to describe aspects of Aboriginal that was spoken in the 1800s. Most of these have now disappeared, but two important words have survived. These are bung (1841) and yakka (1847), both borrowed from the Yagara language of the Brisbane region.

The phrase 'gone walkabout' was originally used in the early 1800s to describe the seasonal patterns of movement of Aborigines across their land or country. Now it is used in a more general, and sometimes inaccurate, way to describe a journey away from home. Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald even reported in 1981 that 'Lady Diana takes a Royal walkabout in her stride' (25 July 1981, p.10).

Major Mitchell, the Surveyor-General of NSW 1825–1855, surveyed vast tracts of land was one of the few surveyors who took an enlightened view of selecting Aboriginal place names for geographical features. Today, the Geographic Names Board NSW, established in 1966 as the official body for naming and recording details of places and geographical details in NSW, has a dual naming policy, acknowledging Aboriginal culture through place naming in NSW.

Convict sources

Relics of convict discipline. Image courtesy of National Library of Australia.

Following the settlement of Australia as a British penal colony, the language that emerged reflected the distinct conditions of settlement, authority and punishment.

'flash language' of the convicts

In 1793 Watkin Tench, in A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson , wrote of the 'flash language' of the convicts. A convict named James Hardy Vaux wrote his New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language in 1812. This was published in 1819 as an appendix to Vaux's Memoirs. While the dictionary was produced in Australia, it is largely a collection of early 1800s London underworld slang.

The term swag similarly has its origin in thieves' slang. It originally referred to a thief's booty or plunder. By the mid-1800s, swag was used to describe the collection of personal belongings wrapped up in a bedroll, as carried by a bush traveller. This is the beginning of the swagman tradition which later arose in gold-rush context. The well-known Australian song Waltzing Matilda has helped to cement the term 'swag' in the popular imagination.

The convict system

Most of the recorded convict slang had to do with the convict system. Many of these historically specific terms have now disappeared from common usage. For example, the word 'pebble' once referred to a convict who was difficult to deal with and had the hard qualities of stone. A 'paper man' was a convict who had been granted a conditional pardon, with documents as proof.

Convict uniform and two caps, 1830–1849. Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia: nla.pic-an6393471.

'Magpies' and 'canaries' described the black and yellow, or straight yellow uniforms worn by convicts. The intention by Governor Macquarie in 1814 in directing that convicts who committed further crimes should wear 'half black and half white' was to make the wearer stand out and thus deter escape attempts. Later in Van Diemen's Land convict men working on the gangs were ordered to wear the conspicuous 'magpie' outfit in yellow and grey (Peter Cox, 2000, Powerhouse Museum, Convict Jacket statement of significance).

Convict terms enduring through history

There are cases of convict words enduring through history to the conversations of Australians today. They include 'servant of the Crown' and 'public servant' (as opposed to the civil servants in Britain).

In 1826, P Cunningham noted that convicts were 'spoken of under the loyal designation of government-men, the term convict being erased by a sort of general tacit compact from our Botany Bay dictionary as a word too ticklish to be pronounced in these sensitive latitudes'.

In 1843 Charles Rowcroft, in Tales of the Colonies , wrote: 'I must warn you that we never speak of the convicts in this country by that term; we always call them 'government men'; or on some occasions, prisoners; but we never use the term 'convict', which is considered by them as an insulting term'.

And so a convict was often called a public servant ... and this was later applied to anyone who worked for the government.
Australian National Dictionary Centre, The convict era 

S. T. Gill, The Newly Arrived Enquiring, 1854, watercolour on paper. Image courtesy of the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.

The word 'muster' in the Australian convict colony was applied to an assembly of convicts, and by the mid-1800s it was being used to refer to the gathering together of livestock for counting and branding.

The gold rushes and bushranging

The gold rushes provided Australian English with some lasting terms. The importance of the term 'digger' in Australian slang and myth derives from the First World War, but its use in that war was derived from the analogy drawn between the trenches which the soldiers had to dig and the often deep holes which had to be dug in the search for gold.

Similarly 'fossick', which now means 'to rummage or search around or about', has its origin on the goldfields. The word fossick comes from British dialect where it meant 'to obtain by asking, to ferret out'.

On the goldfields it had two meanings: ... 'to steal gold from other diggers, especially from an unattended claim' ...The transferred usage was often ironic: 'If one in want of a dinner called at his neighbour's tent at mutton time he would be a fossicker'. But it is the first meaning which has survived into contemporary Australian English.
Australian National Dictionary Centre, Gold 

'Roll-up' in the sense of 'a mass meeting of miners to consider an individual grievance or an issue of common concern' was used in mining contexts well into the1900s, but by the end of the 1800s it had developed its transferred sense of 'an assembly', which is now its primary meaning in Australian English.

Archibald Campbell, On the wallaby c. 1895, Victoria. Image courtesy of Museum Victoria: 196712.

The phrase 'to hump one's swag' in the 1870s–1900 achieved its widespread use in gold mining contexts. All of the early citations (1851–1867) use the phrase in referring to diggers, and the diggings' phrase is the one which later gives rise to the phrases 'to hump one's drum' (1870), 'to hump one's bluey' (1891), and 'to hump one's Matilda' (1902).

The development of bushranging in Australia is an off-shoot of the convict system. The first bushrangers were convicts, escaping either from imprisonment or from bad masters when in assigned service. To them, we owe the terms 'bail-up' and 'stick-up'. The bushrangers of the post–gold rush era are the more familiar 'Ned Kelly' kind. To them we owe the development of such terms as 'bush telegraph', 'cattle duffing', 'gully raking', and 'poddy dodging'.

First World War

During the First World War, many new words entered the vocabularies of all nations who participated and it appears to have been a particularly rich source of word creation. Civilians were much more affected by the First World War than they had been by previous conflicts. Language was transformed with ideas, concepts and words as people – as civilians, as soldiers and at home – came to the terms with the experience.

Eric Partridge, a New Zealander who served in the Great War and a great authority on war slang, noted that jargon and slang need to be considered separately. Jargon is seen as technical terminology devised by a particular group and part of the continuity and integrity of the forces. Slang, on the other hand, is more likely to avoid technical terminology altogether, in favour of figurative, inventive and humorous allusions to the thing being described or referred to, and sometimes serves to make the unfamiliar more familiar.

Amanda Laugesen has observed that the First World War contributed much more to slang and language creation in Australia than the Boer War or the Second World War, and that the language creation had a more lasting impact.

Digger dialects and a glossary of AIF (Australian Imperial Forces) slang

W. H. Downing's Digger dialects was first published in December 1919. Downing enlisted in 1915, served in both Egypt and France, and was awarded the Military Medal after action at Polygon Wood. Downing wrote:

Australian slang is not a new thing; but in those iron years it was modified beyond recognition by the assimilation of foreign words, and the formul of novel or exotic ideas.

A working party of the 16th Battalion, cleaning out a gird trench, France, 23 November 1916. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial: E00579.

Downing also noted further about the digger dialects that, 'Neither is it definite, for there are divergencies within every division; even within every brigade. In the Flying Corps it is different from the speech of the Infantry.' Downing saw the new slang as 'a by-product of the collective imagination of the AIF'.

In the early 1920s, the proposed Australian War Memorial (AWM) librarians were collecting and organising the official documents and records of the war, and worked to collect a glossary of the AIF slang. This first draft of the AWM glossary is accompanied by a letter from Albert George Pretty, the AWM's chief librarian, to the Museum's director, John Linton Treloar, finally published online and annotated by the Australian National Dictionary Centre, 2002.

Australian Flying Corp

While aviation itself introduced new terms to the language, there were words and phrases that were specific to the First World War Australian Flying Corp. One of the most widely known and widespread terms was 'ace'. This was used to describe a pilot who was successful in shooting down large numbers of the enemy planes. Ace was thought to have originated from the ace in a pack of cards.

'How's your father' was a message known to have been sent from an Artillery machine when wanting something to do to keep him amused. The term 'Soupy' referred 'to weather conditions of low clouds or thick fog making flying impossible'.

What functions did the slang serve?

Humour was very important as a means of coping with the impact of war. Soldiers, through slang, were able to deflect the true horror of warfare, but the slang perhaps also allowed for an articulation of that horror that they might otherwise have suppressed. ... To be dead was to be 'hung on the wire', 'pushing up daisies ', to have 'gone west ', to be 'up in Annie's room ', to have been 'smudged ' or to be in 'cold storage '.
Amanda Laugesen

Will Dyson observed in 1918 that the slang was an expediency to allow the Digger to express but disguise deep feelings; 'they have evolved a language compound of blasphemy and catch phrases in which they can unpack their hearts without seeming to be guilty of the weakness of emotion'. (W. Dyson, Australia at war: a winter record, London: Cecil Palmer and Hayward, 1918)

A lasting impact

The use of distinctive Australian slang 'helped to forge a bond that in the years after the war fed into a distinctive national myth which emphasised mateship, masculinity and other values that had been forged on the battlefield'. (Amanda Laugesen)

Some of the slang words and phrases from the First World War remain with us today. These slang terms, include 'cobber', 'digger', 'dinkum', 'mate', 'dinky-di', 'furphy', 'Aussie' and 'the good oil'. 'Furphy' (a rumour) was an Australianism coined to reflect the cynicism of the Australian troops with the information they received about the fighting in which they participated. 'Aussie' (meaning both Australia and an Australian) was first recorded during the Great War. 'ANZAC' was created in 1915 as an abbreviation for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and became seminal to Australian identity, redefined as the Anzac spirit.

Gentle insults

A significant number of Australian colloquialisms are affectionate insults or backhanded compliments. A clumsy friend or colleague may be called a 'dag', 'galah', 'drongo' or 'boofhead'. There are also many ways of saying that someone is not very useful, for example:

  • 'couldn't find a grand piano in a one-roomed house'

  • 'couldn't blow the froth off a glass of beer'

  • 'a chop short of a barbie'

  • 'useless as an ashtray on a motorbike'.

Perverse reversals

Albert Tucker, Max Harris & Joy Hester, Tarax Bar, Flinders Station, [Melbourne], c. 1943, photograph: gelatin silver. Image courtesy of National Library of Australia.

As writer, poet and member of the modernist literary and artistic movement the Angry Penguins, Max Harris points out in his book The Australian Way with Words , 'one of the Australian ratbag traditions is to take a word and perversely use it as the opposite of its intended meaning.' A well-known illustration of this is the word 'bluey', a nickname for someone with red hair.

Nicknames describing Australian States

In the spirit of friendly rivalry, Australian states and territories are identified through nicknames. For example, Queensland, where the northern climate encourages tropical fruit growing, is the land of 'banana benders', and Western Australia, home to some of Australia's most magnificent beaches, is populated by 's–andgropers'. Some terms are less established, for example Victorians were once called 'gum-suckers' when the resin from gum trees (type of Australian tree also known as a Eucalypt) was used as an early substitute for chewing gum.

Interestingly, while certain distinct phrases are limited by geography, there is very little regional variation in Australian colloquialisms considering the distance between the main population centres.

Lost phrases

It is important to remember that a key feature of colloquialisms, slang or 'Australianisms' are that they are never static and often shift meaning or spelling over time. Inevitably, Australian English is constantly shedding colloquial phrases.

It is unlikely that someone will ask you to share a 'puftaloon' (a fried scone) at a 'shivoo' (party). Even in the colder, southern regions of Australia, it is rare to hear the phrase 'cold as a polar bear's bum'. However, browsing through current and historical dictionaries can offer a fascinating map reflecting the changing economic, political and cultural influences in Australian society.

Useful links

Studies of Australian English

Listen, look and play


References used in preparing this story

  • Baker, S 1983, A dictionary of Australian slang, 3rd Edition, Currey O'Neil, Melbourne

  • Johansen, Lenie 'Midge' 1988, The Penguin book of Australian slang: a dinkum guide to Oz English, Penguin Books Australia, Melbourne

  • Laugesen, Amanda 2002, Convict words: language in early colonial Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne

  • Wilkes, G A 1996, A dictionary of Australian colloquialisms, 4th Edition, Oxford University Press, Melbourne

  • Wilkes, G A 1993, Exploring Australian English: an expert humorous look at uniquely Australian idiom, ABC Books , Sydney

Essay: english language reflects our identity

Language reflects identity and reveals who we are and where we come from Ben Johnson says, “Language most shows a man: speak that I may see thee!” ( “No glass renders a man’s form and likeness so true as his speech.”) As Ben Johnson suggests, the words we use and our accent often reflects who we are and where we come from … geographical location, a person’s education, occupation, socio-economic status, age and ethnic background. …. Language both shapes and contributes to our identity and reflects it. Also race, ethnicity and gender are key determinants of language use.

See notes on “national identity” and Howard’s obsession with the word “mateship”

Teenagers often cultivate discreet identities that reflect the sub-groups to which they belong, and which nowadays, are influenced by e-language and the restrictions of technical devices. Lexicology and in particular slang terminology often reflects how they wish to be perceived… often with a rebellious and anti-authoritative, streak.. some are specific to the sub-group such as a gamer’s use of ‘farming’, ‘jungling’ and ‘ad carry mid’ are slang terms used by people playing League of Legends. However, there are other slang terms which are more general and common to the social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and more recently, the internet. Abbreviations, (…) rebuses (…) , shibboleths (….) are typical of a teenage conversation and often reveal a humorous and witty play of words as evident in acronyms such as Some terms used by the users are ‘lol’ (laugh out loud), ‘OMG’ (Oh My God), and more recent terms such as ‘yolo’ (you only live once) and ‘swag’ (to describe ‘coolness’).; and syntactic structures… are also influenced by the constraints of a screen. But also reflect a teenager’s disregard of non-standard forms of English… idiosyncratic forms – capture a desire for difference.. … Acronyms Such slang is generally identified with teenagers and young adults and forms inclusivity among ‘them’ and excludes older generations.

“Awwwcrap, I was hoping I’d never see YOU again, ya ugly old bugger!” Such a greeting, as Danny Katz points out, is typical of the friendly, down to earth candour of an Australian. Such a greeting is also typical of those who speak with a Broad Australian accent and who lives these days in rural areas, in Queensland or is perhaps part of an elderly or non-professional group. They are likely to be a tradesperson, or male, or elderly. Such language typically reflects our Australian sense of good humour, our down to earth personality, and our tendency to be very familiar and, as Danny Katz states, to “bag” our friends. The Broad Australian variety is used by many famous figures, especially politicians, to appeal to such values for example, Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott’s ‘G’day mate’ which is a reduction – characteristic of the Broad – demonstrates Australians’ laid-back demeanour. Companies employ the use of Broad Australian English during Australia Day to, once again, tap into traditional Australian values, such McDonald’s 2013 Australia Day advertisement which made use of a typical morphological feature of the Broad – hypocoristics; ‘Stevo from Paddo’ , ‘Gazza the Ambo’. the poem consists of … reductions and diminutives/hypocoristics (Gazza…) which reflect cultural valies like the cult of informality, mateship and egalitarianism. it is being down to earth and friendly, and being in a “ute that’s chockers”. Anna Weirzbicka (linguist) believes that the abbreviated words (mozzie/ journo/ ammo/ compo/ make the words sound more familiar, everyday and common. The poem also consists of many idiomatic expressions that are typical of Broad Australian, such as “chinwag”, the allnighter”; the idioms are typically witty and humorous; they are also a reflection of the clichés that capture the Aussie settler

Ethnolects are frequently employed not only as a consequence of where one comes from, but also as a means of establishing social identity, shaping perceptions of its speakers. Whilst ethnolects are a marker of identity- particularly as geographical and social markers – there are also wide differences among the ethnolects, and so they also becoming a reflection of first and second generation migrants or those who come from European as opposed to Asian countries. As Peter Munro says, “the Australian born children of migrants from Europe, Asia and the Pacific Islands are asserting their respective cultural blends every time they open their mouths”. For example, a Chinese Australian English speaker who speak with a Chinese dialect that largely lacks final stops, would reduce these stops or assimilate them to glottal stops, such that, for instance, “interested” is pronounced /ɪnt ʃrəstə ʔ/. The phoneme /θ/ is often assimilated to the phoneme /s/, such that “three” is pronounced /sri/. Chinese Australian English speakers also frequently code-switch in and out of Chinese when they have difficulty expressing themselves in English. These features collectively form a strong marker of where Chinese speakers come from. They also may be reflective of how one wishes to be perceived; by wearing an ethnolect as a badge of pride, speakers are able to firmly establish their identity and thus shape how they are perceived. Likewise, Vietnamese first generation: (comedian author of Happiest Refugee ) Ahn Do’s mother’s speech at his engagement ceremony (as recorded in his 2010 memoirs)

“my son lup your dotter berry much. Ahn tek care of Suzie like he tek care of us. He will lup her like he lup his family. Ahn has very big lup. When he lump someone he mek sure dey happy forever. Today I berry happy , too. I have a new dotter. Tank you.
• Voiced fricatives—/v/, /z/, // vision—are unstable and are often substituted by other phonemes, e.g. bery (very), gero for zero.
• Tank – d… . [th] …
• Dipthongs are unstable; pure vowels substitute for u/ oe…. e.. /ae/

Academics, public commentators, and professionals also mark their group boundaries through the language they speak that reflects their status / identity.. Typically they speak General Australian English… Multicultural , inclusive and diverse. phonology …lexemes /semantics – jargon – The subgroups to which professionals belong are also typecast by the jargon they speak to reflect overt prestige…

Aboriginal people, languages and culture are often shown on tourism advertisements and are seen by many from around the world to be markers of our Australian national identity.

Once accepted to be a ‘broken’ form of English Aboriginal English is now recognised as a legitimate form of expression of our indigenous citizens. It reflects who they are, and their origins as first inhabitants of Australia. “Aboriginal English expresses an Aboriginal worldview. It differs from Standard Australian English at every level, from this worldview to the rules for using language (pragmatics), to the meaning of the words and the structures of the texts, to its grammar and sound system.” Aboriginal words have always infiltrated Standard Australian English and increasingly many terms are being adopted as a recognition of the indigenous groups as the first inhabitants. Aborigine owned sites have recently been renamed with Aboriginal names such as that of the famous rock in the heart of Australia – Uluru – whose previous official name was Ayer’s Rock until it was changed in 1985. Aboriginal loanwords are used to address much of Australian flora and fauna – ‘kangaroo’, ‘koala’, ‘kookaburra’, ‘coolabah’, and so on – as well as place names such as ‘Geelong’, ‘Warrigal’, ‘Koo Wee Rup’ all of which shows the intrinsic link between Australian identity and Aboriginal English (which is a continuum of Aboriginal Englishes which have different degrees of mixes between English and the area’s traditional language – closer to urban areas, Aboriginal English will have a greater amount of English words than traditional and further away from urban areas the Aboriginal English will have a greater amount of traditional words).


The use of Aboriginal English has also been increasing in media; ‘two weeks ago some Anangu (people)… He can’t think straight, kata cura (bad head)’, this was published in The Age newspaper in 2009. Another example of Aboriginal English used in public is Amos Frank, an indigenous AFL player who is part of the Hawthorne team, teaching his teammates some indigenous words which they used during a match earlier this year – ‘kuranyu kutu (forward)’, ‘kantulas (kicks)’, ‘tima malpas (team mates)’ – which were reported in The Australian in January 2013. The fact that Aboriginal English is used in AFL – a game which has beginnings in Australia – shows the deep-seated link between Australian identity and Aboriginal English.

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