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Old 07-17-2005, 03:34 AM   #1
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The English language (Boring question)

This more of a culture question than a political one but I thought FYM would be the most appropriate place to put it, if it isn't then I apologise.

Anyway, I was watching 'Neighbours' (why are you laughing?) the other day and it struck me that Aussie English is nearly identical to British English in:

1. Spelling (NeighboU rs)
2. Pronunciation (They said Ar-men instead of A-men)
3. The actual names for things (boot of a car, mobile phone)

So, I was wondering why is Aussie English so similiar to British English but American English so different? I mean I can understand why things such as spelling/pronunciation are similiar because of the main colonisation of Australia in the 19th century by prisoners (sorry about that by the way...) by which time spelling and pronunciation had been put in a 'fixed' state but America was colonised far earlier before there were 'standard ways' of English language so this has allowed it to evolve in a different direction. But what I really want to know is, why has Aussie English largely continued to follow the British pattern, even with modern words such as a car 'boot' or a 'mobile phone' instead of a 'trunk' or a 'cellphone'? Because surely, with the increasing Americanisation of the world, that is what we'd expect to happen?
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Old 07-17-2005, 03:52 AM   #2
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Until recently ie about 30 years ago Australian culture was still tuned into the UKI. Our ABC network was the BBC network in wolfs clothing.

Our immigration policy was also locked into a preferential system for UKI residents until the 1950's white Australia policy was lessened.

As for the recent mobile versus cell phone issue. Dunno.

There are many different accents in Britain. And a few different ones in Australia too. Eg Avon

some people in England say Aven
some people in Sydney, Aus say Aaaavon
some people in Perth, Aus say Av'n

Dunno that Australian accents sound like UKI accents. Maybe on really bad USA tv shows they do. Most USA tv directors appear to be incapable of distinguishing an Australian accent from an English/Irish one.

The Americanisation of the world is more in the arenas of dumb stuff eg tv shows, junk food. Not literature and the arts. Thats still anyones game. (Not that I'm saying the USA is dumb, just that is what the USA is exporting in a financially productive manner.)

I will be interested to see what other people say in this thread. Im too tired to write coherantly.
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Old 07-17-2005, 04:10 AM   #3
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Another difference is sense of humour. Australian sense of humour is a lot closer to the UKIs ie self-depreciating, sardonic, ironic. USA sense of humour is more straight forward, slapstick. (or maybe its just the tv shows giving that impression. Mind you Euro/Australian humour is often lost on some USA people on these boards. And most likely vice versa)

Maybe language travels through humour?

/not making sense.
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Old 07-17-2005, 04:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by beli


Dunno that Australian accents sound like UKI accents. Maybe on really bad USA tv shows they do. Most USA tv directors appear to be incapable of distinguishing an Australian accent from an English/Irish one.
I don't think that UK and Australian accents do sound that alike and agree about US directors. Watch the Simpsons episode where they go to Australia then watch the one were Lisa marries the Hugh Grant style rich toff. The 'Australian' accents and the 'Cockney' ones sound nearly identical in the show which they certainly are not in real life.

Thanx for all the information, it certainly explains a lot. One of my main problems in discussing this is that my experience of Australian accents is very limited to purely Melbourne ones (ie. every Australian show I've ever seen seems to be set in Melbourne and the only Australian I actually know comes from Melbourne but just to confuse the issue has English parents so what her accent actually is, who knows?)
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Old 07-17-2005, 04:21 AM   #5
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The various accents on the Simpsons are vile. lol.

Most of the accents on Australian tv are Sydney accents. Not that I watch much tv. The soaps might be filmed in Melbourne but not all the actors are from there.

Heath Ledger is from Perth and his accent is not that dissimilar to mine. ie not like Steve Irwin.

As for the mobile phone mystery, I would be quite interested to know the answer to that one myself.
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Old 07-17-2005, 04:36 AM   #6
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I've heard both mobile phones and cell phones used in US. I think they were first called mobile phones, then probably switched to cell phones to differentiate them from other portable phones or to define it to the dumb people (me!) who thought mobile phones were phones installed in automobiles.
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Old 07-17-2005, 04:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by beli
Another difference is sense of humour. Australian sense of humour is a lot closer to the UKIs ie self-depreciating, sardonic, ironic. USA sense of humour is more straight forward, slapstick. (or maybe its just the tv shows giving that impression. Mind you Euro/Australian humour is often lost on some USA people on these boards. And most likely vice versa)

Maybe language travels through humour?

/not making sense.
<remembers the fury over what Liam G said about Bono> I know what you mean about humour sometimes being lost!

I think perhaps you may have a point about language and humour. It seems to me that culturally the UK and Australia are more similiar than say the UK and the USA so perhaps this why the language remains so similiar, because the cultural ties are already in place... I don't think that makes much sense either. Perhaps if I knew what factors govern the evolution of language then I might be able to add more to this discussion.

The best I can do as regards 'Neighbours' accents is recognise that Karl's accent (who is from Perth apparently) sounds slightly different to other people's but anything more complicated than that (ie. tell where in Australia someone is from just by their accent) I can't do.

Bonossaint, what you said about mobile/cell phones would explain it. My bet is that if, like the US, the phones were first called either cell phones/mobile phones in the UK/Australia then mobile phones would rapidly become the favoured term because it describes what the phone actually, like, is. Whereas most people would feel that cell phones sounds too...high-tech.
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Old 07-17-2005, 05:00 AM   #8
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And cricket and rugby. UKI and Australia (and most of the rest of the former colones) have some sports in common whereas theres not so much with USA sports. eg gridiron and baseball.

I didnt know about Karl on Neighbours. Ill have to watch it now. Isla Fischer is from Perth and some chick called something like Tammizin Sousik (sp?)

Cell phone and automobile are more difficult to actually pronouce. I think Australians like lazier words.
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Old 07-17-2005, 01:53 PM   #9
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firstly, while there might be some people who confuse an Aussie accent with a UK accent, there are just as many who confuse an American accent with a Canadian accent. and, yes, there's *totally* a Canadian accent.

i can easily tell the difference between an Aussie accent and a UK accent. i can also tell if someone's posh, from Northern England, from Liverpool (thanks John and Paul), Welsh, Scottish, Cockney, or from London (sort of). i can tell the difference between an Edinburgh accent and a Glaswegian as well.

am totally lost when it comes to the geography of Aussie accents. but i swear i'll listen hard when i finally get down there!!!

i think the difference between UK vs Aussie vs USA english has to do with history and the fact that language is an organic, constantly evolving, living entity. as for History, we fought a revolution, and then became a global power by about 1900 or so. notice the difference between "aluminum" (US spelling) and "aluminium" (UK/Oz spelling). at the time that the word morphed in the US from the UK spelling, we were the world's biggest exporter of said product. thus, who's going to argue with our spelling if we've got most of the stuff? also, US society has always been a culture of other cultures, keeping the language in a constant state of flux with so many different influences from around the globe.

as for humor, what i find so interesting is that the part of the US that retains the closest cultural ties to the UK -- New England -- is probably the part of the country where satirical, class-based humor goes over best. i'm from there, and we have a keen sense of irony that i've felt lacking in other parts of the country. in fact, i find California more of a culture shock than the UK, and i could very easily have much more in common with an Aussie (and i've met many in my travels) than with a Texan. while this is a stretch, i think it has much to do with the fact that the old school blue-blood WASP power structure of the US is concentrated in the high society of Boston and New York.

i dunno ... just musings.
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Old 07-17-2005, 02:01 PM   #10
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I'm proud to say I can tell the difference between Irish, Scottish, British, and Australian accents! Not bad considering I've never been to any of those places. Can't pick up on regional accents within those countries though.

anyway, can't answer your question, but I felt like bragging.
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Old 07-17-2005, 02:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
firstly, while there might be some people who confuse an Aussie accent with a UK accent, there are just as many who confuse an American accent with a Canadian accent. and, yes, there's *totally* a Canadian accent.

Only regionally, Irvine.

If you speak to a person from Toronto or Niagara Falls and then a person from Buffalo or Syracuse, there is no difference in the accent. Bring in somebody from the Maritimes or Newfoundland and of course there's a difference, but they're no more similar to somebody in Southern Ontario than they are to somebody in Oregon.
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Old 07-17-2005, 02:56 PM   #12
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Re: The English language (Boring question)

Quote:
Originally posted by TheQuiet1
1. Spelling (NeighboU rs)
2. Pronunciation (They said Ar-men instead of A-men)
3. The actual names for things (boot of a car, mobile phone)
1. I think that is no surprise at all, as the entire English speaking world besides the US (and Canada? I forget) spells the Commonwealth way. That's one reason why I think US spelling is just flat-out wrong, but that's another debate entirely.
2. I hear 'ay-men' here. I'll use both pronunciations, though I'm a New Zealander (been in Australia nearly eight years).
3. As beli said, until recently, the place was very influenced by the UK. Though if you want somewhere influenced even more by the UK, look no further than New Zealand. I think US influence is now dominant among the younger generation, though even when we were little (I was born in 1987), UK influence was still dominant.

I honestly don't think the Australian accent is much like the British one at all. I personally think it's more similar to the American accent (although nasally, sometimes horribly so): when I was in the US, I noticed a lot of similarities in pronunciations. I think the New Zealand accent, however, is very 'colonially British' in a sense.
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Old 07-17-2005, 02:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
firstly, while there might be some people who confuse an Aussie accent with a UK accent, there are just as many who confuse an American accent with a Canadian accent. and, yes, there's *totally* a Canadian accent.

I TRY, really I TRY to tell the difference but if you put two people in front of me and said one's Canadian and one's Americian I could just probably make out the difference in accent but as to which one's which . Hence the fact that if I hear a North American accent I'll automatically think 'American' but then correct myself to 'Canadian' because they always seems to be more Canadian tourists round here than Americans. So basically, I'd guess... and I'm contradicting myself so many times here... so I'll shut up...
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Old 07-17-2005, 03:13 PM   #14
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Re: Re: The English language (Boring question)

Quote:
Originally posted by Axver


I honestly don't think the Australian accent is much like the British one at all. I personally think it's more similar to the American accent (although nasally, sometimes horribly so): when I was in the US, I noticed a lot of similarities in pronunciations. I think the New Zealand accent, however, is very 'colonially British' in a sense.
I've heard that said about New Zealand a lot. In fact, someone said New Zealanders are more English than us [English].

As for the accents thing, I hope no-one is getting the impression that I think there are similarities between the UK and Oz accents because, to my ear, there are none but I think it's interesting how difficult it is for people to tell apart accents if they don't come from the place (eg. to an Australian a New Zealand accent sounds nothing like an Australian one but to Brits this may not be the case... yet most British people could tell the difference between someone from say Edinburgh and someone from Glasgow). That said, I've heard Irish teachers at school being called Scottish

Another question, is it just me or does the UK have an alarming number of regional accents or is it just that I live there so can tell the difference but they'd sound the same to foreigners? If you see what I mean.
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Old 07-17-2005, 04:17 PM   #15
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Re: Re: Re: The English language (Boring question)

Quote:
Originally posted by TheQuiet1
Another question, is it just me or does the UK have an alarming number of regional accents or is it just that I live there so can tell the difference but they'd sound the same to foreigners? If you see what I mean.


i think it's a little bit of both.

this is totally an outsider's perspective, and based pretty much on things i've read, but i've always thought that accent in the UK had much to do with both place and class, and that maintaining your accent was a source of pride and authenticity. i could absolutely be wrong, but that was my understanding.

i would argue, however, there there is great variety in US accents, much of which goes unnoticed by the ears even of citizens of the country. the Boston accent is famous, as is New York, and we all hear about "southern" accents -- but in the south in particular, you'll hear great diversity in pronunciations. there's a North Carolina mountain accent (think John Edwards), a Missisippi Delta accent (sounds like molasses, very pleasant), a carolina coast accent, and so on and so forth (and i think a southerner could do more justice than i could ... it's only been since i moved to DC that i got real exposure to southern culture). there's a difference between a Maine accent and a Boston accent, there's a very obvious Minnesota accent, a midwestern twang, and so on and so forth. i think people forget, even US citizens, just how strong a sense of regionalism there is in the country.
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