Australia does not have an official language but the de facto language is English. Australian English is different due to their unique accent and lexicon. Less than 80% of the Australian population is using English in their homes.
Indigenous Australian Language
Immigrants composed most of the population in Australia. Their numbers are bigger compared to the aboriginal or indigenous Australian. These aboriginals have a total of 400 indigenous Australian languages. Of which, only less than 20 is still used at home. Due to their low population, their language did not become widespread. To date, Chinese is by far more spoken over the indigenous language.
Australian English versus British English
The similarity between Australian and British English is resounding. But, Australian have their own vernaculars or slang words. Commonly called “strine,” which originated from the early convicts of London. A breakout from the British English language. This varies from state to state. Some words were adopted from the aboriginal language.
After the early settlers inhabited Australia, their English has been influenced by Americans. Their accent became more distinct from the British.
Australians are fond of using abbreviated words whilst British like to use full words. Example of this the word barbecue, used in British but it is called barbie in Australia. Another one would sunnies which is the shortened word for sunglasses. When talking to Aussies, your conversation may sound like: ” Good arvo. Grab your bodies. Let’s head on to the beach to have some barbies.”
Some of the popular shortened words are:
- No worries
Certain words mean differently in both languages. Here are some of those words:
- Rego – car registration
- Cossie – swimming costume
- Billy – teapot
- Lady – Sheila
- Tinny – can of beer
- Garbo – dustman
- Brolly – umbrella
- Stoked – happy or pleased
- Swag – a single bed you can roll up
- Thongs – flip flops
Some may think these words can be condescending when speaking to someone older. But, their fondness for such shorten words dates back in 1800. The younger generations should not take the blame as it is embedded in the culture.
Influence of Immigrant Languages
Due to the mix cultures, the spoken language in Australia has constantly evolved. Their native language is a mixture of hybrid of different languages which the new generation adapted. This resulted in the two types of English-based languages in Australia: Kriol and Torres Strait Creole. The former is used in Northern Territory and Western Australia whilst the latter in Queensland and South-West Papua.
Seventy percent (70%) of the population speak English at home. For the past few years, thousands of immigrants flock to Australia, most of which are bilingual. Apart from English as a spoken language at home, there is also an increase in a non-English language. Next on the list is Mandarin at 2.5% followed by Arabic at 1.4%.
Lastly, Australia has its own sign languages which are called Auslan Yolŋu Sign Language and other Aboriginal sign languages. It would be great to see how the Australian language will evolve over the years.