Do you agree that, despite the influence of international, popular and technological cultures, Australian English is still distinctive?
LUKE FETHERS 12E
Australian English can be seen as a single national variety, however in actuality, it is best seen as a melting pot of an array of language varieties including the aggregation of the Broad, General and Cultivated varieties, the ethno-cultural varieties and Indigenous Australian English. Throughout its role as the national variety, Australian English has been subjected to a wide range of factors that have influenced not only the language at a linguistic level, but its prominent international usage. Such influences include American popular culture, the prominence of immigration into Australia, as well as the introduction of electronic-mediated communication through the usage of smartphones and computers. As a result, Australian English has undergone numerous changes in its linguistic features. However so, this influence does not exclude the distinctiveness of Australian English; the Australian phonology remains to be unaffected, and Indigenous Australian English has been relatively resistant to such influence.
In recent decades, Australians have been exposed to significant amount of American popular culture, particularly from sources such as music, film, and T.V., which has been seen to introduce a variety of lexemes and linguistic influences into Australian English that has, to a degree, shaped the language at a subsystem level. For example, the noun ‘buddy’ (and additionally its shortening ‘bud’) as well as the noun ‘man’ as informal greetings between acquaintances is often substitutes the use of the typical Australian colloquialism ‘mate’. The American phrase ‘no problem’ is often used to accept apologies in replacement of the Australian equivalent ‘no worries’. The highly versatile discourse particle ‘like’ is another import from America. Conversely, the influence of American pop culture on Australian English is largely limited to the lexicon of Australian English, and does not influence the other subsystems (apart from discourse), thus having only a minimal impact on Australian English.
Derived through the use of social networking media and mobile phones, the introduction of electronically-mediated communication has seen the prevalent usage of a whole new language variety in Australian society, and is thus an essential component of Australian English. Such a language variety contains a range of spoken language features. Prosodic and paralinguistic features may be represented using acronyms and abbreviations such as ‘ROFL’ or ‘LMAO’, or additionally through non-Standard orthography such as repetition of a letter (for example, ‘heyyyy’), indicating casual elongation of a phoneme. In addition, the use of social networking has resulted in the creative formation of lexemes, such as ‘unfriend’ through affixation and acronyms such as ‘LOL’ and ‘KMS’. In Australian society, the significant influence of EMC can be seen further in lexemes that are normally specific to EMC in the written mode but are being used in the spoken mode. For example, the is a prominence of interjection usage in Australian teenager conversations, such as ‘OMG’. These linguistic features of EMC have been integrated into Australian English through the influence of technology, and the presence of such features in a spoken mode that is indicative of its role in the national variety.
International influences, such as the waves of immigration in the late 20th century, have also brought with them the ethno-cultural varieties of Australian English. Such cultural varieties of English have diffused into Australia society, with their linguistic features derived primarily from their speakers’ first languages. For example, the South Asian ethnolect is primarily characterised by the monophongisation of the phonemes ou and ei to c: and e:, as most South Asian languages are devoid of diphongisation, a prevalent part of Australian English phonology, in particular the Broad variety. However so, various identifying features of the aggregation of the these Broad, General and Cultivated varieties remain and have maintained the unique nature of Australian English. For example, the Australian accent, has been largely unaffected by the monophonisation. The nasalisation of back vowels and the rhetoric r in lexemes such as ‘drawing’ remain characteristic features of Australian phonology. Indigenous Australian English, also resistant to such influences, is also involved in maintaining the individuality of Australian English. The combination of its various linguistic features across the subsystem is not found in any other English variety. Lexicon unique to Aboriginal English include ‘monatj’ and ‘booliman’, both denoting the meaning of a ‘policeman’. A syntactic feature is the omission of the copulative verb in subject – predicate complement constructions, for example in the phrase ‘he good’, where the copula verb ‘is’ is not used. Further, lexemes such as ‘sorry’ and ‘mother’ have differing semantic meanings in the Indigenous Australian English variety. Such features ensure that Aboriginal English remains a unique variety and ascertains that Australian English retains its distinctiveness.
Whilst Australian English has been subject to changes to its lexicon and incorporation of other varieties of English due to various influences, Australian English retains its distinctiveness as it has retained characteristics features that allow it to be distinguished from other English varieties. The phonology of the Broad has, to an extent, not been altered to severely, and Australian morphology and semantics have remained relatively constant over time. International influences have also increased the distinctiveness of the national variety. In maintaining its individuality, Australian English retains its capacity to act as a marker of national identity.