World Englishes, Vol 18, No. 2, pp. 259±270, 1999.


Standard Australian English
ABSTRACT: The author traces the development of the concept Australian English from the 1940s to the present time, noting a radical change in both public and individual acceptance of it. He briefly surveys the extent of the scholarly documentation of Australian English in dictionaries and style manuals, and addresses the question of Australianness in a range of text types and registers.

The use of this term would surprise most Australians even now, two hundred or more years after English was brought to these shores by the first British settlers (1788). Yet it is listed and defined in the Oxford Companion to the English Language (1992) as the twentiethcentury term for `the standard English of Australia', and this definition is supported by a 1987 citation from an official government report: `As the national variety of English in Australia, Standard Australian English ought to be used with confidence in Australia and overseas' (Joseph Lo Bianco, 1987). But fifty years ago the term `Australian English' was unknown in Australia, where the common view was that to the extent that it was different from British English the English used in Australia was a deformed and objectional product of an isolated antipodean community, its local vocabulary outlandish, and its accent regrettable. `Teachers' said a prominent educationist, `must do their utmost to check this development away from standard English' (S. H. Smith, NSW Director of Education, 1920). The English used by Australians was commonly judged to be unacceptable, yet the population was almost entirely monolingual, and English was its language. In the year 1901, the year in which Australia emerged out of its colonial status to become the (more or less) self-governing Commonwealth of Australia, a population census was taken. This census showed that 77% of the people had been born in Australia, 10% in England and Wales, 3% in Scotland, and 5% in Ireland ± all English-speaking countries. (That census did not count the comparatively very small population of indigenous Aborigines. None of the numerous Aboriginal languages had a written form, and they had no influence on the language scene in the British colony, except in some lexical borrowings.) How did Australian English in fifty years get from that to its present position of having a national standard form, recognised as such in the Oxford Companion? But the question goes even further now that Tom McArthur, in his editorial for English Today (McArthur, 1996), has expressed the view that in the new world order of Englishes (the pecking order, as he calls it) the United States of America comes first, the United Kingdom second, and (as he is inclined to argue, taking other possibilities into account), Australia comes third. The critical period for this transformation was the 1930s and, especially, the 1940s. What had happened to English in Australia before that, right from the commencement date of British settlement as a penal outpost (1788), is ill-documented and still the subject of intense speculation and research, here to be touched on only briefly. There had been the
* Linguistics Department, Macquarie University 2109, Australia. E-mail:
A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1999, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.

He was inclined to characterise these sounds as Cockney. with its 50-page listing of `Australian and bush slang'. but sparing in its treatment of the colloquialism of nineteenth-century Australians. Downing his Digger Dialects in 1919. `there should be a general tendency. in a speech opening the 1926 annual Teachers' Conference in Sydney. Morris (1972). It was a partial account of the lexis of English transported. For `there never was an instance in history'. A leading article in the Daily Telegraph (22 December 1926) reported wearily that `The Christmas school reports have again yielded their annual crop of homilies upon the vulgar impropriety of Australians speaking in an accent peculiar to their country. comprehensive enough on flora and fauna. Also Karl Lentzner had published his Colonial English in 1891. In the 1920s and 30s the groundswell of uneasiness about the local forms of English was at its height. Tasmania and New Zealand. nor can they ever again come. and there never will be such an occasion again. in 1887. ironically presented by its convict author to a magistrate. During a Residence in that Colony from 1838 to 1844. In 1887 a fairly comprehensive and professional account of what later became known as `the Australian accent' was made by Samuel McBurney (1889). In spite of difficulties in his notation of sound values. Why should there be any distinctive Australian speech? It is sad to reflect that other people are able to recognise Australians by their speech. in which she made the observation that `A very large proportion of both male and female natives [Ed.260 Arthur Delbridge comments of visitors to the colony. is still a mystery to be explained' (McBurney. as a result of his extensive observations of Australian speech in the then most heavily populated parts of Australia. it is now apparent that diphthongs closely resembling the diphthongs of the broader vowels of today's Australian accent were to be heard then. and were loudly taken up by ordinary citizens. children born in the colony. a record of the slang of the Australian military forces of World War One. One aspect of colloquialism had already been usefully covered in A New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language (James Hardy Vaux. upon Flora and Fauna so completely different from anything seen by them before'. especially from those whose sense of and respect for national identity repudiated any proposal to make the local forms of English conform to a particular British model. said Edward E. as an aid in communication with those who came before him on criminal charges. Unfortunately many of the characteristics in our dialect are reminiscent of.' He called it Austral English: A Dictionary of Australasian Words Phrases and Usages. usually of British parents] snuffle dreadfully. though in later editions this list was incorporated alphabetically in the main text. 1999 . as there undoubtedly is in Australia. 1844). . . `But why' he says. 1819). like the one made by a Mrs Charles Meredith (1844) in her Notes and Sketches of New South Wales. just the same nasal twang as many Americans have' (Meredith. W. to a Cockney pronunciation . for never did settlers come.1 The complaints were led by educationists and professional bodies. `when so many new names were needed. So he prepared a dictionary of `all the new words and the new uses of old words that have been added to the English language by reason of the fact that those who speak English have taken up their abode in Australia. the extensive Australianising of the lexicon had been observed. Smith. expressed the view that There is no such thing as Australian grammar or Australian spelling. H. informative on the social structures of the convict era. though not without temperate opposition. H. and Joshua Lake brought Australasian words to international attention by his 1898 Australasian Supplement to Webster's International Dictionary. and so lost its impact. if not A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1889). that is.' But Mr S. Meanwhile. His account was published as Part Five of Alexander Ellis's Early English Pronunciation.

where he had come under the influence of Daniel Jones. Menzies. it is the harsh nasal voice. 1999 . which he labelled `educated' and `broad' ± and that Australian pronunciation `takes its place among the national forms of English. 28 December 1933) The positive side of the debate had no champion until 1940. 25 September 1940) .' What Mitchell had attempted to establish was that there are varieties of Australian pronunciation ± two. and this offence will never cease until English phonetics are taught in the schools.Standard Australian English 261 identical with. only to be sternly asked what she thought was wrong with her own accent. Once back home in Australia. Mitchell conceived the idea of asking the same questions of those people in Australia who thought ill of Australian pronunciation and were calling for reform. which is mainly due to laziness. Some twenty of these views were then published in the same journal (19 July 1942 and 26 July 1942). Looking back on the public debate he had contributed to so valiantly. but the majority favoured the notion that `we can hardly expect respect for a language bred of carelessness out of ignorance ± still less to find it considered as acceptable and as pleasant as good English. to replacing her American accent with the Received Pronunciation of English. They are faults which are associated in the minds and ears of millions of English-speaking people with crude.' (`Womerah' in Sydney Morning Herald. London. it led to an invitation for him to give a series of broadcast lectures for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC). Australian Speech Is Here to Stay. to an anonymous `Sensitive Auricular Nerves'. `It is not only the abominable diphthonging of the vowels. lips and cheek. and why on earth would she want to replace it.' (Telegraph. he later A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. It has its own history and is not a corrupt derivation of anything. so too are environment. in class. he confronted the English Association. in fact. `No doubt climatic conditions are contributory factors in our indifferent diction. in spite of his good reputation as a scholar. careless English. These were published in The ABC Weekly. The ABC then invited `a number of citizens with special interest in the subject to contribute to a symposium of views'. There was some sitting on the fence. `It is ruined by bad voice production. told Daniel Jones how she looked forward. formerly a tutor in the English Department in Sydney University. poverty of vocabulary and the lack of intellectual identification with the meaning and mood of the writer.' (The Sun. but. under his tutelege. as much entitled to respectful consideration as any other.' So Mitchell's assertion of Australian English as the natural and inevitable variety for the Australian people had a generally hostile reception. which had been formed in 1923 with the aim (among other things) of `doing something to improve Australian pronunciation'. G. which had an Australia-wide circulation. when Alexander George Mitchell. those of uneducated people elsewhere. Conscious of the debate back in Australia. then just at the end of his first period as Prime Minister of Australia. His lecture to the Association (Mitchell. and There is Nothing Wrong with Australian Speech. The contributors ranged from Mr R. returned with his PhD from University College. Among his fellow-students there was an American who. lectures with titles like Does the Australian Accent Make You Shudder?. 20 December 1926) The whole chorus of condemnation and concern along these lines was directed almost exclusively at habits of speech: . flattened vowels and inadequate use of the tongue. the slovenly elision of half the consonants. that offend the ear. more importantly. mis-shapen. and some faint praise. 1940) certainly intensified the debate. why not follow one of the charming ones? Why follow the ugliest that exists? [by which he meant Cockney!] (Evening News. 24 August 1923) . If we must follow a dialect of English in Australia.

Meanwhile another approach was being made. In its early years dependence on the BBC as a model was apparent. W. expressed the view that `Australian speech is slightly objectionable . Baker's stridency of tone and his concentration on slang have both been seen as excessive. But his contribution to the emerging concept of a distinct variety of English has nevertheless been important. A Pronunciation Advisory Committee was set up in the ABC in 1944. NATIONAL BROADCASTING The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) was established in 1932 to broadcast nationwide programs of high quality `in the interests of the community'. and university teaching and research. even up to the time of his lamented death in October 1997. the elaboration of the concept and its general public acceptance have occupied all the intervening time till now. J. calling for a new name and a new description based on the examination of Australian history `in terms of the popular speech we have developed as incidental to our cultural growth' (Baker. (When the first edition of the Macquarie Dictionary was published in 1981. Sidney J. fizgigs.' Instead. 1965: 134). to make recommendations for the pronunciations of particular words and to compile a list of Australian place-names. concentrating on the lexis of what he called `The Australian Language'. at the age of 86. the publisher declined to have it named The Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English. Not for him the tame. It was even said that it implied a contempt for Australians by suggesting that any old kind of speech was good enough for them' (Mitchell. 1945: 11). There have been various attempts at naming the variety: Morris's `Austral English' was too early. and the claims he made for the newness and unique inventiveness of English in Australia are exaggerated. this time by a journalist. in language as in much else. Cleary. he claimed. staid recital of names showing (as Morris had shown) what had been added to the English language `by reason of the fact that those who speak English have taken up their abode in Australia . . schooling. Every quest for announcers has revealed that the number of men most suitable have been Englishmen. even for public acknowledgement of the concept itself. sundowners.262 Arthur Delbridge confessed that it had been very hard to get a sympathetic hearing for his defence of the Australian accent: `It was denounced as no more than a neutral document that whatever is is right. the issues were still about improvement and correctness. larrikins. the name `The Australian Language' (owing much to Mencken) did not catch on. diggers. not about the choice of a particular variety of English. 1945: 36). `A new language'. with A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Although the initial and crucial moves were made in the 1940s. he concentrated on the colloquial language of ordinary Australians. on the grounds that it would be widely believed to have nothing in it but slang. Baker. `English in Australia' is too tame. though there are some who still take that name to be synonymous with slang. Even as late as 1941. that it tolerated and encouraged what was slovenly and slipshod. Mitchell's personal influence continued to be vital in areas of great public concern. in real life and as depicted in Australian literature.) But `Australian English' is now well established in academic and official usage as the name for the variety in both its formal and informal manifestations. 1999 . especially national broadcasting. . `Australian English' is widely used. the then chairman of the Commission. and other dinkum Aussies who evolved it are something to be reckoned with also' (Baker. . But that is not the end of the story. `If the Australian language is something to be reckoned with it is because the boundary riders. .' To the extent that language issues were in the air for Australians in this period.

with the growth of closer local observation of and research into Australian practice. 1981) (focused on Australian usage) as its first port of call for pronunciations. especially language standards and standardisation. labelled `General'. there was no move away from the BBC model until the Commissioners at length recognised that `the pronunciation of some words in Australia does vary slightly from the English usage'. One of the important elements in this process of change was a rather large research project initiated by A. 1999 . Mitchell was a member of this committee. and revealed a reasonably even spectrum of phonetic variability which could justifiably be categorised into three sections. It was in 1981 that the committee nominated the Macquarie Dictionary (Delbridge. of which the central one was numerically the largest. The analysis was centred on the vowel sounds of Australian English. Australian teachers have completely overcome the endemic cultural cringe about the admittedly vague notion of a British language standard which should be aimed at in schools. The central one. in 1952 the committee urged that the ABC's general pronunciation policy should acknowledge the reality of Australian English. Strangely enough. Mitchell in the early 1960s to test his earlier analysis of a two-tier structure of the Australian accent. though in fact its dependence on that British book (that focused so completely on the `received' pronunciations of the English public schools) rapidly decreased. the normal practice has been to choose speakers of a cultivated type of Australian English. With the accelerating recognition of the multicultural and multilingual nature of the Australian population throughout the 1980s. Until fairly recently their training had not had much linguistics in it. G. and to confirm (or disprove) the belief that Australian English was geographically uniform throughout the whole continent. but has recognised the broadcaster's right to continue to use any well-attested variant pronunciation that is shown to be acceptable in educated Australian use. Although A. As to the appointment of broadcasters. The range of its interests has also widened to the many questions of discourse and style that arise in both scripted and unscripted broadcasting. Working with a colleague. and with Mitchell as chairman. he gathered tape-recordings of informal conversations between senior high-school pupils and their teachers. in a uniform format. the committee adopted D. by gathering samples of speech from all regions of Australia. and consequently not much encouragement to examine the validity of their professional views about language. the ABC's requirement was generalised to `acceptable styles of educated speech'. quoted above. Smith. though even that has depended on the requirements of particular programs. and with the full official support and approval of all the secondary-school systems in all the Australian states. and subjected the resulting 9. Jones's English Pronouncing Dictionary (1917) as its primary source. with two smaller sections on each side. H. with no specification of a particular speech variety in the broadcaster. In its later years the Standing Committee on Spoken English has been much less inclined to nominate a single pronunciation of a word or name as its enforceable recommendation. represents the most A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. SCHOOLING Traditionally schoolteachers are conservative in their use of language and inclined to favor notions of conformity and correctness in their language teaching programs. G.Standard Australian English 263 recommendations for their pronunciation. But since the days of Mr S.000 plus recordings to a strictly controlled auditory analysis which was then correlated with a battery of personal and socio-economic information about each of the participants. Under a new name.

lexis. especially in the English Department of Sydney University. a number of monographs have been published. especially in Australian universities. and had a distinct effect on the focus of language teaching in Australia at all school levels. there have been coursework programs in Australian English at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. along with the Aboriginal languages. from the presses of Oxford or WebsterMerriam chiefly. there was a general assumption among Australians that their dictionaries would come from overseas. Since the early 1940s. on one side is `Cultivated'. but even where these might have foundered. even required to take. Although speech training cannot be said to have had a central place in the curricula of most school systems. All three varieties are to be found in all parts of Australia. indeed might even help to keep Australian usage from straying too shamefully from the requirements of Standard English. and with minor exceptions it remains true that one cannot make a reliable judgment on what region a speaker comes from on speech criteria alone. using the well-equipped facilities of the Australian National University. Queensland University.2 LEXICOGRAPHY IN AUSTRALIA Until about twenty-five years ago. Postgraduate research has produced a considerable body of theses on the phonetics. Yet such assumptions have by now been so radically called into question. the linguistic concepts of conformity and variability within a language system have had profound effects in the teaching of both literature and language. Australian English is clearly a major field of study for contributing linguists. and the profession of lexicography so developed.264 Arthur Delbridge frequently met variety of Australian English speech. studies such as Mitchell's did confront schools and curriculum makers with the reality of Australian English. much of it being laboratory-based. There is a thin and somewhat blurred line between postgraduate and professional academic work. gradually growing in comprehensiveness and depth until by now it is usual for students anywhere in departments of English. that in 1990 an Australian Association for Lexicography was founded. A few of these are listed in the notes. 1999 . with an initial membership of some 150 A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Courses on contemporary English language tend to take Australian English as the focal point from which comparisons with other major varieties are made. phonology. since the one so often becomes the other. linguistics. There have been good attempts made in some school systems at a linguistics-based English curriculum. along with some collected essays on aspects of Australian English. Macquarie. which comes closest to British Received Pronunciation. some coursework in that subject. would meet Australian needs perfectly well. using one or another of the current theories. The variability within the spectrum depends mainly on personal factors such as sex. and on a mix of socio-linguistic factors (Mitchell and Delbridge. and others. that these dictionaries. The same balance is apparent in the papers of the Applied Linguistics Association. 1965). and education to be offered. But a perusal of the titles of papers published in the Journal of the Australian Linguistic Society shows that. UNIVERSITY TEACHING AND RESEARCH Starting in the early 1940s. Monash. and the other side is `Broad'. Melbourne University. and grammar of the variety. produced for international distribution. which is perhaps the most distinctive.

Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. in which words believed to be distinctively Australian were labelled Austral. 1997) was intended to be the first Australian dictionary to offer a comprehensive word list in which all the pronunciations. It was devised as an unashamedly national dictionary. of the languages of Aboriginal peoples. These are A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms (Wilkes. S. The hopes of its writers have been realised amply. in spite of the fact that there had been a good deal of serious study of Australian lexis. and there is now a wide-spread perception of the Macquarie as the first-port-of-call dictionary for Australian users. These include a large companion thesaurus. Wilkes's dictionary is drawn largely but not exclusively from Australian fiction (he held the chair of Australian Literature in Sydney University while he was writing it).. Our novelists of social realism had tended to foreground slang in dialogue in the portrayal of their personae. But since then there have been at least three major publications which between them have filled the lexicographic gap. It has been adopted by many organisations in government. 1991. But it is a wellbalanced account. with its entries drawn from the close reading of nearly 10. active especially in various dictionaries of Australian English. in broadcasting and journalism. 1999 . for users with different educational needs. and with the same team of writers and editors. and The Australian National Dictionary (Ramson. and is frequently cited in courts of law and in the press. has also published a number of spin-off dictionaries drawn from the same large database. As to Australian English. written on the same historical principles as The Oxford English Dictionary. It is a dictionary of Australianisms. with generous dated citations. gives a solid basis for conclusions about the period of currency of the headwords and the development of their various senses. But still no comprehensive dictionary appeared comparable with. and others with kindred interests. publisher of the dictionary. The Macquarie Dictionary (Delbridge et al. and even as a distinctive trait in the national character. 1981. edited by Graham Johnston. and of the languages other than English in use among the more or less recently arrived immigrants from other parts of the world.. Before Wilkes there had been a number of more minor attempts to present Australian slang and colloquialism as the most striking and distinctive aspect of Australian English. Its fourth revised edition has appeared in 1996. in education. editors. is a leading figure in the study of the history of Australian English. and all the definitions of meaning are taken from the use of English in Australia. The Australian National Dictionary (Ramson. 1981). The Macquarie Dictionary (Delbridge et al.Standard Australian English 265 lexicographers. In 1976 Oxford University Press Australia issued an Australianised version of the Pocket Oxford Dictionary. say. and sets of dictionaries and thesauruses of different sizes. Ramson. Canberra. Its historical method. with twenty volumes now in print. no book for people seriously wanting to consult Australian lexical usage. It was hoped that no longer would Australians wishing to consult the usage of their own community find that the only available dictionaries were focused on the usage of communities in the northern hemisphere. then of the Australian National University. 1988). publishers. Its editor. all the spellings. making no exaggerated claims for the quality of Australian colloquialism. 1978). 1988) was published in 1988 by Oxford University Press Australia. this had not resulted in a dictionary that focused on it.000 books A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. and in which Australian English becomes the basis of comparison with other national varieties of English. W. even the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English or the American College Dictionary.

and the only comprehensive one. in establishing strong claims for an Australian origin for many words. and economic aspects of both the problems and the resource opportunities presented by this multilingual complex.266 Arthur Delbridge and papers with Australian associations. language has been a dominant and complex feature. social. Some 400 borrowings from Aboriginal languages are recorded. People from United Kingdom and Ireland backgrounds of three or more generations comprised 60%. prepared by Joseph Lo Bianco (1987). It is the first historical dictionary of Australian English since Morris. for the latter notably in its concise format edited by Joan Hughes (1993). support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island languages A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. THE NATIONAL POLICY ON LANGUAGES The vigorous programs of immigration pursued by a succession of federal governments from the period dominated by World War II to the present day have carried with them a realisation of the need for a national policy on languages. substantiates the definitions. and for the first time in Australian lexicography the etymologies in most cases identify the source Aboriginal language. of course. The Australian National Dictionary has become an indispensible tool for historians and literary scholars. There were difficulties. Eventually there appeared a report called National Policy on Languages. Second generation Australians of non-English speaking background comprised 8%. a reflection of the advanced state of knowledge of the over 200 Aboriginal languages that had been in use at the time of the first European settlement. . 1999 . successive federal governments have worked towards policies that would address the educational. even with citations that antedated those of British or American dictionaries. Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds of three or more generations ago comprised 5%. In the multicultural policies adopted by Australia at least since the mid-1970s. espousing four principles for the balanced development and implementation of languages policy at the national level in Australia: 1. . English for all 2. when Aboriginal contact was lexically most productive. (Reported in Bianco. . `not making undue claims but including many words which are of undoubted significance in the Australian context but about the precise origin of which there remains uncertainty'. and illustrates the range of registers within which it has been used. It therefore seemed best to the editor to interpret Australianism liberally. First and second generation English-speaking background Australians comprised 14%. An analysis published in 1987 showed that of the then population of 16 million people: . First generation Australians of non-English speaking background comprised 12%. Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders comprised 1%. The generous provision of citations establishes the chronology of each word's use. as well as a source of interest in the general population. each of which treats a word or phrase judged to be distinctively Australian. wherever published.) In the light of such demographic complexity and after much public and professional consultation. 1990. The dictionary consists of about 6. . .000 main entries.

But there had meanwhile been important shifts in the concept of Australian English in the minds of linguists. Standard Australian English'. and the other Englishes of the world. a language other than English for all (through both mother tongue maintenance and second language learning) 4. Language and Technology Centre. and many other factors. as part of the broader process of micro-economic and educational reform. The term literacy in this policy was used to mean literacy in English. The funded research projects have so far included a Centre for Workplace Culture and Communication. It was endorsed by the Prime Minister and subsequently by senior ministers. Language Testing and Curriculum Centre. 1999 . . is Australian English `taken into officialdom's bosom via language policy' (1994: 14). training and employment systems . enjoying absolute complementarity. including many varieties of English. In the early nineties there was some fine-tuning of policy directions. and in June 1987 the Government announced its commitment to providing nominated large sums for the implementation of a balanced package of programs under the rubric of the National Policy on Languages. Centre for Deafness and Communication Studies. teachers. and others. of government and of most commerce. it being noted that `While there may be some variation in spoken forms of Australian English. sociologists and publishers even before this governmental recognition emerged. the one most A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Now even if that had been an appropriate definition in 1981. Style Council Centre. in the latter part of the nineties the national policy on languages is implemented through an organisation called Language Australia. contributing significantly to social cohesion and economic efficiency' (Department of Employment. it was not appropriate for the second (1991) edition. and in international communication. working throughout the states in cooperation with education authorities. What convergence there is towards Australian English by speakers of the other languages depends on individual will. Of these. then. the mass media. Now. used with remarkable homogeneity throughout Australia. and English `refers to the form of English generally used in Australia. Language Testing Research Centre. professional associations and universities. Language Acquisition Research Centre. as contrasting with British English.Standard Australian English 267 3. equitable and widespread language services. where the definition begins the same way but adds `and by other inhabitants of Australia whose speech and idiom in English has converged on that dialect sufficiently to be identified with it. and those including the varieties of Aboriginal English. Within Australia it is the language of the law. there are generally accepted standards of written English. What distinguishes Australian English from the rest is that it is virtually Australia's national language. For example. as well as on the effects of education. 1991: 32). Centre for Research and Development in Interpreting and Translating. employment. American English. the common medium for communication and the exchange of ideas across a population of widely varying ethnic and racial backgrounds. Asian languages were strongly supported in the report.' For in multicultural Australia it is clear that there are many languages. with a strengthened strategy to promote literacy and language learning under the aegis of an Australian Literacy and Language Policy. Education and Training. Language and Society Centre. It is described in government discussions as the `foundation language of our education. Centre for Research and Development in Language and Literacy. . to quote the words of Lo Bianco. in the first edition of the Macquarie Dictionary (1981) Australian English had been defined as `that dialect of English which is spoken by native-born Australians'.' Here. intermarriage.

but also with wider questions of variation and choice in the lexico-grammatic systems of English. especially in dialogue in drama and other fiction holding up the mirror to the intimacies of Australian life. even occasionally a deliberate lapse into coarseness. Characteristically the convenors call together a large group of writers. and a project for a database inventory of differences between Australian. and close by are the columns of (especially) the week-end newspapers. The Australianness of Australian literature. edited by Pam Peters. editors. where one finds expository or business writing in prose. Nevertheless in competently written Australian expository prose the style choices available are quite similar to those offered in British grammars or in. and still convened by the Dictionary Research Centre. and in various other professional practices. especially written language. a highly variable factor. publishers. and subsequently from the mass-communication dominance of American English. Characteristically surveys are conducted on particular points of usage at each Style Council and the results published in the annual Proceedings. language and computing. British and American English. 1999 . There may be a noticeable element of informality in some Australian expository writing. But A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. technologists. in education. the Chicago Style Manual. With the support of Language Australia. Australians have not succumbed uniformly or even happily to either influence in any marked way. language and the law. and is embarking on a survey of the various Aboriginal Englishes. which publishes the range of Macquarie dictionaries. language in mass communication. computer people and members of the public interested in language. lawyers. all known to have interests in themes and topics relating to variation and choice in language. Plain English. teachers. editors.. its English has never been substantially affected internally by a major influence from any other languages. The contributed papers deal with aspects of spelling. is at one extreme. STANDARD AUSTRALIAN ENGLISH The first Style Council held in Australia. The Style Council Centre is also engaged in a study of Standard English as used in student writing. Macquarie University. throughout its history. of course. The external influences have derived initially from our inheritance of a British-type education system. including English teachers at all levels. say. capitalisation. Australia is very fortunate in that. a national bulletin called Australian Style is published twice yearly by the Dictionary Research Centre. and academics. Since then Style Councils have become annual events. in collaboration with Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. But in written language it depends more on register and subject matter: the closer one comes to the personal and social heart of Australian life the more idiomatic and indigenised is the language in use. It is most obvious in spoken language. especially among speakers at the broader end of the speech spectrum. punctuation. as a reference tool for those needing to write and publish using the variety appropriate to particular circumstances. There is a gradient then towards the other end. held in different capital cities.000 regular readers. was an initiative of the Dictionary Research Centre. It disseminates the results of work on Australian English to almost 5. hyphenation etc.268 Arthur Delbridge directly concerned with delineating the concept of Standard Australian English is the Style Council Centre. This is where one might expect writers to make their language choices constantly from within the limits of Standard Australian English as it is progressively defined and re-defined by those who take on the task of so defining it. in 1986. The Australianness of Australian English is. and with more general issues such as style guidance.

In The Cambridge History of the English Language. 2. a derogatory sense in an Australian context. Actual Australianisms (like Mabo. George W. STYLE GUIDANCE Many Australian organisations provide their members or employees with an in-house style guide. who was the most prominent figure in a public newspaper debate on the emerging concept of English in Australia as Australian English. English in Britain and Overseas: origins and development. (1966) Australian English. (1945) The Australian Language. Collins. (1980) Australian English: Its origin and status. NOTES 1. assembled in computerised databases. G. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Barbara (1985) Variation in Australian English: The sociolects of Sydney. Mitchell. and a strong contribution to the on-going definition and re-definition of its standards. In recent years various commercial publishers have published substantial guides by competent and attractive writers. Sidney J. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. are the source of balanced guidance that owes nothing to personal opinion. and does often have. editors and printers. Vol. but constant reference is made to the database corpus records of British and American English. Hammarstrom. the word elitism can have. G. This important work makes a welcome addition to the documentation of Australian English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This volume of some 850 pages breaks new ground by adopting a descriptive approach based on the methods of corpus linguistics. The following account draws on an unpublished book of press cuttings compiled at the time by Professor A. (1992) English in Australia. 1798±1898. (1946) The Pronunciation of English in Australia. E. leschenaultia. koori. Arthur (1965) The Speech of Australian Adolescents. 2nd edn. Mitchell. (1991) Community Languages: The Australian experience. The principal database used is Australian in origin. Edited by Richard M. and Delbridge. St. Michael G. Since 1966 the Commonwealth of Australia itself has published its now frequently revised Style Manual for authors. David (eds) (1989) Australian English: The Language of a New Society. Forum Phoneticum 19. Mitchell. Lucia: University of Queensland Press. Selected Monographs: Baker. Ozolins. Alexander G. Hamburg: Helmut Buske. Clyne. 1999 . Sydney: Angus & Robertson. Peter and Blair. so that in the end the reader may decide which of the possible choices is best for the work in hand. Ramson. An historical study of the vocabulary. On any point involving choice the reader is first given the facts about a particular variant usage. wowser) belong to the subject matter of the discourse. Horvath.Standard Australian English 269 the only real source of unintelligibility for those unfamiliar with the variety is when a word fully current in world English is used in a specifically or typically Australian sense (for example. 1966. A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Hogg. whereas no British or American dictionaries appear to recognise that in their definitions of the word). Turner. 1995). Uldis (1993) The Politics of Language in Australia. and are no different from the -isms of other varieties of English. U. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sydney: Currawong. then taken through the events that produced the variant. in which the facts of actual usage. Canberra: ANU Press. Alexander G. 5. William S. The newcomer is The Cambridge Australian English Style Guide (Peters. all of them (except the latest one) owing much in style and content to Fowler's model.

Tom (1992) The Oxford Companion to the English Language. Peters. Mitchell. Bianco. Sidney J. Vol. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Services. Ellis. Dictionary Research Centre. Joan (1993) The Concise Australian National Dictionary. Samuel (1889) Colonial Pronunciation. Daniel (1917) English Pronouncing Dictionary. Grahame K. Alexander G. Alexander G. McLachlan. p. Delbridge. (1940) The Pronunciation of English in Australia. Proceedings of Style Council 94. (1972) Austral English: A Dictionary of Australasian Words Phrases and Usages. Edited by Alexander J. McArthur. Anglo-Indian. London: Kegan Paul. Vol. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. Edited by C. English Today. Mitchell. Gerald A. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Melbourne: Lothian Book Publishing. Lentzner. Macquarie University. Johnston. Joseph Lo (1994) English in a Multilingual Australia and a Multilingual World. W. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. During a Residence in that Colony from 1838 to 1844. Lake. Wilkes. (1978. In The Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux. a lecture privately printed for members of the Australian English Association. McArthur. Education and Training. (1919) Digger Dialects. Arthur (1965) The Speech of Australian Adolescents. London: J. In The National Language. Early English Text Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press. H. D. 236±48. 12(1). Tom (1996) Third in the pecking order. 1996) A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms. Peters. Edward E.270 Arthur Delbridge REFERENCES Baker. Bianco. Narasimhaiah. Meredith. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Karl (1891) A Glossary of Australian. The Australasian Supplement to Webster's International Dictionary. Joseph Lo (1987) National Policy on Languages. (1819. Vaux. Bianco. Mitchell. 5. (1965) The English Language in Australia. (1988) The Australian National Dictionary: A Dictionary of Australianisms on Historical Principles. 50. London: Macmillan and Sydney: Sydney University Press. Joshua (1898) A Dictionary of Australian Words. 1999 . Sydney: Sydney University Press. London: John Murray. Merriam. 1964) A New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language. (1945) The Australian Language. (1976) The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary. Pidgin English. Ramson. and South African Words. Morris. Jones. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. Brisbane: Jacaranda Press. Pam (1995) The Cambridge Australian English Style Guide. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Dent. London: Heinemann. McBurney. pp. In An Introduction to Australian Literature. and Delbridge. 1997) The Macquarie Dictionary. 1. A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Canberra: Department of Employment. Department of Employment. Hughes. Sydney: Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. Alexander G. Arthur (editor-in-chief ) (1981. 1991. James H. In Early English Pronunciation. Joseph Lo (1990) A Hard-nosed Multiculturalism: Revitalising Multicultural Education? In Vox: The Journal of the Australian Advisory Council on Languages and Multicultural Education. A Survey. Mrs Charles (1844) Notes and Sketches of New South Wales. Edited by Pamela H. West Indian. William S. Edited by N. 4. Downing. M. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. Education and Training (1991) The Language of Australia ± Discussion Paper on an Australian Literacy and Language Policy for the 1990s.

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