Australian English

The article below, published in today’s Australian newspaper, states that by one count 300 Million Chinese are currently learning English. A lot of these Chinese begin their English learning journey at home in China. Some are in for a shock when they arrive in Australia and find that the English they have learnt is a little more ‘Chinglish’ than English. The article refers to a phrase ‘Thanks for your listening” that may be accepted as good English until coming to Australia.

This problem is not unique to Chinese English learners. Most people who learn English before they come to Australia still have some language adjustment to face once they get here. Australian English is a strange breed! Sometimes we pronounce and spell like the British, sometimes like the Americans, sometimes both ways are acceptable, and then sometimes we throw in our own version! We like to speak casually, with contractions abounding, mixed in with strange idioms as well as the usual sprinkling of phrasal verbs. Many people who have studied English for years outside of Australia are mortified when they find their English skills don’t allow them to understand basic social conversations, or even the news on TV!

What we need to remember is that each part of the world has its own particular version of language, and it is no different with English. Accents are blurring with new phrases and idioms as English spreads throughout the world. One of the great things about English is the way it has taken on words from other languages throughout the centuries. It is this metamorphosing quality of English that keeps it changing, evolving, and continuing to be useful and relevant in rapidly changing world. So whether you speak Chinglish or Anglish (Australian English) remember that second language speakers of English now out number first language speakers, so if you really want a phrase to be part of the English language, you just need to find a way to persuade people that it should be in there!

What’s a word of phrase that is used outside of Australia that you think we should adopt as part of our English?

WARNING: If you are preparing for an IELTS exam (or other such English testing) best to just use the already agreed upon official English. Save the arguments for new words or phrases for lively discussions around the barbie!


2 replies
  1. VESTRI OPTI - Business English by Business People
    VESTRI OPTI - Business English by Business People says:

    This is great stuff. We teach ‘proper’ English for business and for IELTS 7 folks, but we understand that there are ‘many Englishes’. What form of English is used in business circles in Australia? Is it an international English or an Aussie English? (We are curmudgeons – we believe there is a ‘proper English’ for business interactions.)

    • Stacey College
      Stacey College says:

      Well I am finding that once people are in the door (have been through the interview process and are hired) the language becomes a lot more casual, especially between people in the same company. Words and phrases such as “I reckon”, “can I catch up with you”, and “lets kick off”, are all casual phrases that can confuse ESL speakers. These can be used by everyone from the boss, fellow employees to clients and customers.

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