So, how exactly do Australians speak? How does the Australian accent differ from other accents in English? Finally, what techniques can you use to learn how to do an Australian accent?
We will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at the origins of the Australian accent:
Where Did the Australian Accent Originate?
The Australian accent, as we know it today, first began when European settlers landed in Australia in 1788.
There are various theories as to how the accent became so distinctive, but the prevailing theory is that the settlers had too many varied accents. They needed to pair them all down in order to communicate. This, combined with influences from the Aboriginals’ language, led to a completely new type of English.
As the Australian population grew and the country expanded, international influences took hold, changing the language forever.
The elocution movement of the late 19th century pushed to standardize English. The proponents of the movement wanted to make Received Pronunciation (the accent of southern England) the standard by which all other forms of English were measured. This led to fractures and variations in the Australian accent.
Prior to this change, the “Middle Australian” was the prevailing accent in the country. However, by the mid-20th century, Middle Australian was replaced by three distinct accents: broad, general, and cultivated.
Broad Australian Accent
Broad Australian English is the accent that is most familiar to people outside of Australia. This strong Australian accent is characterized by slower speech, a more nasal tone, and longer diphthongs.
While it is the most recognizable accent for foreigners, Broad Australian English is not the most common accent in Australia. The majority of speakers live in rural, remote areas of the country.
General Australian Accent
General Australian English is the most common accent in Australia. You will hear this accent in most suburban areas of the country. Additionally, General Australian English is the standard accent for most Australian media, television, and film.
This accent is not as strong as Broad Australian, though it can still be characterized by nasality and distinct pronunciations.
Cultivated Australian Accent
Cultivated Australian English is closer to the Received Pronunciation of England. However, it still retains some qualities unique to the Australian dialect.
Though not widely used throughout the country, Cultivated Australian English developed from the elocution movement in an attempt to conform with the Standard British English. Cultivated Australian English is most often associated with higher social classes.
Australian Accent Pronunciation
While there are three distinct types of Australian accents, most linguists recognize that they exist on a spectrum, with Broad Australian on one end and Cultivated Australian on the other.
As one moves closer to the Broad Australian side, the pronunciations become more distinctly “Australian,” while the pronunciations on the Cultivated Australian end lie closer to British or American English.
Since General Australian is the most common accent and represents a kind of “middle ground” between Broad and Cultivated Australian, we will examine how different letters and sounds are pronounced with this type of accent:
How to Sound Like an Australian
So, how can a non-Australian sound like an Australian? Once you understand the basic differences in tonality and pronunciation, you could imitate the sounds. However, it is an extremely difficult accent to master. Even experienced American and British actors have difficulty imitating an Australian accent with complete accuracy.
That being said, with enough practice, you can speak with an Australian accent. The key is to listen to the Australian accent and mimic oral positions, tone, and pronunciations.
If you’re in need of some examples of the Australian accent, we’ve got you covered. There are actually hundreds of Youtube channels hosted by native Australians, but here are a few of the best for non-Australian English speakers:
We hope you found this guide helpful! With enough practice, you’ll be speaking like a local Aussie in no time!