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Department of Linguistics

How will speakers from non English speaking backgrounds affect Australian English?

Speakers of non English speaking backgrounds can potentially affect accent by creating a new accent group which may mark a particular ethnic affiliation. If this group is sufficiently large, mainstream groups may initiate change in language in an attempt to diverge from the new group. There is some suggestion that this situation occurred in Australia in the post WWII era. Many migrants from southern Europe used a foreign accented form of English referred to as Ethnic Broad. The children of this migrant group moved away from the Broad forms of Australian English possibly as a way of distancing themselves from this Ethnic broad accent type and embracing a more mainstream Australian identity. An opposite effect has recently occurred with the children of many newer migrant parents embracing their ethnocultural heritage and using a form of Australian English that does express their ethnic cultural identity. It will be interesting to explore the effect this will have on mainstream Australian English.