Australian English

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{language, word, form}
{country, population, people}
{land, century, early}
{black, white, people}
{food, make, wine}
{film, series, show}
{work, book, publish}
{game, team, player}
{album, band, music}
{specie, animal, plant}
{day, year, event}
{car, race, vehicle}
{city, large, area}
{system, computer, user}
{theory, work, human}
{school, student, university}
{line, north, south}

Australian English (AusE, AuE, AusEng, en-AU[1]) is the form of the English language as spoken in Australia.

Contents

Socio-historical linguistic context

Australian English began diverging from British English shortly after the foundation of the Australian penal colony of New South Wales in 1788. British convicts sent there (including Cockneys from London[2]), came mostly from large English cities. They were joined by free settlers, military personnel and administrators, often with their families. However, a large part of the convict body were Irish, with at least 25% directly from Ireland, and others indirectly via Britain. There were other populations of convicts from non-English speaking areas of Britain, such as the Welsh and Scots. In 1827 Peter Cunningham, in his book Two Years in New South Wales, reported that native-born white Australians of the time—known as "currency lads and lasses"[3]—spoke with a distinctive accent and vocabulary, with a strong Cockney influence. The transportation of convicts to Australia ended in 1868, but immigration of free settlers from Britain, Ireland and elsewhere continued.

The first of the Australian gold rushes, in the 1850s, began a much larger wave of immigration which would significantly influence the language. During the 1850s, when the UK was under economic hardship, about two per cent of its population emigrated to the Colony of New South Wales and the Colony of Victoria.[4]

Among the changes brought by the gold rushes was "Americanisation" of the language—the introduction of words, spellings, terms and usages from North American English. The words imported included some later considered to be typically Australian, such as dirt and digger.[5] Bonzer, which was once a common Australian slang word meaning "great", "superb" or "beautiful", is thought to have been a corruption of the American mining term bonanza,[6] which means a rich vein of gold or silver and is itself a loanword from Spanish. As the term was used interchangeably in the early twentieth century with the words boshter and bosker, the derivation from the Spanish 'bonanza' seems unlikely. The influx of American military personnel in World War II brought further American influence; though most words were short-lived;[5] and only okay, you guys and gee have persisted.[5]

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