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Department of Linguistics

future directions

Voice Portrait

All languages in current use are dynamic and constantly evolving.

Audio and photo used with permission.

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Where is Australian English headed?

All language used by a community of speakers is dynamic and constantly evolving. This is because language is an essential part of social interaction and as a community grows and changes so too does the language of its members.

Speech also changes as a result of the pressure for speakers to remain intelligible to each other but also produce speech that is physiologically economical. So there are both social and linguistic reasons for languages to change.

Australian English is a fundamental symbol of the Australian identity and the accent is probably the most recognisable element of this regional dialect of the English language. It immediately tells the listener that the speaker is Australian even if they use other linguistic features that are not typically considered Australian. An accent is a symbol or an emblem of who you are. It expresses your identity. So although Australian English is constantly changing (as are all other living dialects), it will continue to express the Australianness of its users.

Australian English fifty years from now will certainly not sound the same as it does today but, whatever its particular characteristics, it will remain an important and enduring marker of Australian identity.