Tuesday, July 10, 2007

We Aussies are Top-Rate Spongers!

Have you ever checked out the Australian Word Map site? It’s a co-production between our own dictionary - The Macquarie - and the ABC to map Australian regional speech. I recommend you log on and add your own Aussie words or comment on whether you ate Polony, Devon or Fritz sandwiches as a child. Or whether you wear bathers, cossies or swimmers to the beach.

However, it doesn’t comment on pronunciation. From what I gather AuE (Australian English) is somewhat of a sponge language. We soak up words from everywhere. And since English, itself, is somewhat of a sponge on other languages we Aussies are top rate spongers! Can’t invite us anywhere.

The effect is that, according to our researchers at the Macquarie Dictionary, we not only soak up words from other countries and add them to our mix, but we also soak up their pronunciation (and give it our own little twist). As a result, we accept more than one pronunciation for each word and there doesn’t seem to be any clear regional differences.


the new studies seem to suggest that the pronunciation of Australian English everywhere is effectively the pronunciation of 'Sydney English’. This is why it is everywhere uniform to a surprising degree and why, paradoxically, it is everywhere various too. Macquarie Dictionary Online

Melbournites will hate to hear that. Anyone who has lived in Melbourne will know that they proudly pronounce “Reservoir” as Reservwar rather than Reservwa; and “Castle” as Cassle instead of Carsel.

But on the other hand there doesn’t seem to be any regional pattern to the pronunciation of other words such as Schedule (Skedyool/Shedyool). Your preference seems to depend whether you identify more with BrE* (Shedyool) or with AmE* (Skedyool) and that, I guess, may be revealing in itself. The Macquarie recognises both of these as correct. And many people say both, interchangeably.

I have a well-travelled friend who can’t stand the word “toilet” also can’t stand “schedule” pronounced “Skedyool” either. I guess she will be able to meet the Queen, and I won’t.


*BrE = British English; AmE = American English

5 comments:

David Nash said...

"Melbournites" ?! Hmph -- what happened to "Melburnians"! All part of our variation eh...

Ms Ellipsis said...

Yes, David, I stand corrected. As a former Melburnian I should've been offended by my own post!

Fe said...

Oh.... only a year and a half late. But I recognise myself as the "well travelled friend who can't stand the word toilet" and who also detests the AMe pronunciation of schedule.

FYI I detest restroom and bathroom too. I guess I'm BRe all the way. "Loo" "Lav" "Lavatory" are the best ones imho!

So.... when do I get to meet the Queen? xxxx

Lauryn said...

Earning money online never been this easy and transparent. You would find great tips on how to make that dream amount every month. So go ahead and click here for more details and open floodgates to your online income. All the best.

Lauryn Hill said...

Earning money online never been this easy and transparent. You would find great tips on how to make that dream amount every month. So go ahead and click here for more details and open floodgates to your online income. All the best.