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  1. #11
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I think that SD was referring to the 'hectolitre' unit rather than the metric system. I have spent a fair part of my working life in countries that use the metric system, and I have never heard the word used. I have seen it sometimes in economic/business reports.

    Thank you for turning my attention to this possibility which escaped me entirely. The metric system has been in use in my country ever since I remember and the use of all the prefixes denoting the division or multiplication of a unit of measure by the factor of ten is for me as automatic as the use of the unit itself. Hecto means one hundred times more.

    You also made me realise that the term "hectolitre" is used in my language idiomatically to express large quantities of liquids and that I made a common mistake of translating an idiom verbatim from one language to another.

    My apologies to SD for being facetious (I hope he/she will read this)
    Last edited by JarekSteliga; 21-Jan-2012 at 17:00. Reason: typos

  2. #12
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    There are two forces- the drive towards standardisation and a more homogeneous English for international communication and the drive for national and regional models. They will continue to operate alongside each other. Many speakers already vary the way they speak according to the person they're with. It's a bit like centripetal and centrifugal forces- one driving to create and change and one acting as a brake to hold things together.

    Raymott's example of How to say xxx? and others like depend of and What means xxx? are so common among some groups of non-native speakers that they will probably cross over into the mainstream.

    I think the impact of Sino-English will be lower than Raymott and 5jj suggest- there will be plenty of loan words and phrases, as we have so much more contact now than we did. People were saying the same about Japanese twenty years ago and we have lots of Japanese loan words in English now and things like all your bases are belong to us, but what else? I don't see why this should be particularly different with China. There has been a huge rise in trade and political relations, and this will have an impact, but this has not been accompanied by a similar cultural exchange- we do business, tourism and so on, but I don't see why this will have much impact on English. A few thousand loan words is more likely to me, which is what has happened every time before.

    PS I don't have a problem understanding most Australians and Australian English has influenced BrE- many younger speakers have adopted things like intonation patterns from it, so I don't see it drifting away on its own. Julia Gillard hasn't struck me as hard to understand when I have heard her on the news. She does sound 'very' Australian to me, but I can follow what she's saying.
    Last edited by Tdol; 21-Jan-2012 at 14:39.

  3. #13
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    I was referring to the pronunciation. For example "left" is pronounced as "lift" (or at least that's how I hear it). I wonder if this common replacement of vowels (again according to my own perception) is formally recognized i.e. if it is reflected in the phonetic transcription in Australian English dictionaries.
    No, it isn't. The reason is partly that general dictionaries give phonemic, not phonetic, pronunciation guides, and also because not all Australians have the same accent. "Left" in the Macquaire DIctionary (Australia's major national dictionary) is given as /lɛft/ and "lift" as /lɪft/.
    It's true that the Australian /ɛ/ is closer to /ɪ/ than say, the British, /ɛ/ is; but it's not close enough to present the Australian pronunciation of "left" as being /lɪft/. And if you come to Australia and start saying "lift" to mean "left", people will not understand you.

    (If the Australian accent is freaking you out, please don't try listenting to NZ English)

  4. #14
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    Indeed this comes as a revelation to me. I normally automatically assume that heads of state speak "Oxford" or "BBC" or "Harvard" English of their respective country.
    That's an unusual assumption. People don't choose their accent after they've become elected to office. So are you saying that you think all previous British Prime Ministers have had similar accents?

    Also I believe that the language we speak is one of the strongest means of expression of our identity and if a politician wants to ensure a large or influential following in a democratic society, they first and foremost should make sure that the language they speak coincides or resonates well with that of their supporters.
    Australians hate fakes. We know how Julia Gillard speaks, and if she suddenly adopted a different accent during an election campaign, her chances of re-election would fall dramatically.

    I now realize that having been little exposed to any "Australian English" other than that spoken by Julia Gillard, I may have built my case in this thread on entirely mistaken grounds!
    Amazing! I can only suggest that you not make such broad generalisations about language on such little evidence in future.

    At the end of the day, as a result of all the views presented by English teachers and other members in this thread I find myself a different man i.e. not as radical about what is discussed here as just a few days ago.
    That's great! We are performing a useful public role if we can moderate such ill-conceived prejudices. I congratulate you on being willing to learn. We occasionally get posters here who have such strong fixed ideas that no amount of logic, evidence, or opinion will budge.

  5. #15
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Indeed this comes as a revelation to me. I normally automatically assume that heads of state speak "Oxford" or "BBC" or "Harvard" English of their respective country.
    That's an unusual assumption. People don't choose their accent after they've become elected to office. So are you saying that you think all previous British Prime Ministers have had similar accents?

    Also I believe that the language we speak is one of the strongest means of expression of our identity and if a politician wants to ensure a large or influential following in a democratic society, they first and foremost should make sure that the language they speak coincides or resonates well with that of their supporters.
    Australians hate fakes. We know how Julia Gillard speaks, and if she suddenly adopted a different accent during an election campaign, her chances of re-election would fall dramatically.
    Please suffer me to make yet one comment on this. Mind you I didn't imply anywhere that Heads of state should change their accents the moment they become elected, and I would similarly imagine that Julia Gillard's chances of a re-election would fall dramatically were she to change her manner of speech over night. What I believe is that politicians aspiring for high positions in the government do bring their personal twangs or argots into line with what is considered formal or generally accepted as appropriate for them, gradually as they ascend the ladder. The use of formal English by someone coming from humble origins in my opinion does not represent a disloyalty, upstart airs, haughtiness or you name it, but that person's deference to existing norms of behaviour. Whether all previous British PMs have had similar accents is impossible for me to judge, but in all likelihood they followed the rules of their day.
    In conclusion I do not think that my assumption that Australian Prime Minister spoke anything else but the formal version of the language was false. Thanks to your comments I now know however that - well grounded as it might be - it led me astray.

  6. #16
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    In conclusion I do not think that my assumption that Australian Prime Minister spoke anything else but the formal version of the language was false. Thanks to your comments I now know however that - well grounded as it might be - it led me astray.
    In a country such as Australia, which is comparatively young (European-wise), we are a nation of immigrants from all over the world. There is a typical accent, but not everyone speaks it. However, almost every competent naturalised citizen does vote, even those who can't speak English well.

    In Australia, we don't vote for people on the basis of their accents. We vote for whichever lying, back-stabbing clown we think will run the country least dangerously for the next three years.

  7. #17
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    We vote for whichever lying, back-stabbing clown we think will run the country least dangerously for the next three years.

    I sometimes reflect on why I even bother to cast my vote in presidential or parliamentary elections in my country. You put your finger on it far more competently than I ever could .

  8. #18
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    Fascinating thread.

    One thing is certain: languages become more locally distinct over time. Professor Higgins says he can place an Englishman within 6 miles of his place of birth, 2 in London. There is some truth in this, because English has been in England for a very long time. In America, People generally can't tell that Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is from Montreal, or that Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) is from Toronto. In part, this is because English in North America has had less time to differentiate into highly distinct local variants. There are just regional tendencies, except in New England, where city accents now exist (after 400 years).

    Linguists also use this fact to determine the age of linguistic settlements: the European languages are far more different from each other than the Indian languages, which leads to the widely-accepted consensus that the Indo-European language group made its way at some point from Europe towards India, rather than the other way around.

    As for whether TV or the internet will help standardise, I agree the jury is out. Certainly some expressions will be transmitted in this way (I've seen quite a few former Americanisms in the Mancunian speech of the Corrie cast recently) but whether the effect is powerful enough to homogenise English overall seems pretty unlikely.

    I imagine we'll end up having a larger and larger difference between "proper" English (which will become more and more similar everywhere) and everyman's local colloquial English, to the point where English-speaking people will ultimately become practically bilingual -- as with Italians, who speak their local dialect as well as "standard" Italian, or Jamaicans, who speak Creole and, if educated, English.

    Just my two cents.

  9. #19
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Fascinating thread.

    1. One thing is certain: languages become more locally distinct over time. Professor Higgins says he can place an Englishman within 6 miles of his place of birth, 2 in London. There is some truth in this, because English has been in England for a very long time.

    2. Linguists also use this fact to determine the age of linguistic settlements: the European languages are far more different from each other than the Indian languages, which leads to the widely-accepted consensus that the Indo-European language group made its way at some point from Europe towards India, rather than the other way around.

    3. I imagine we'll end up having a larger and larger difference between "proper" English (which will become more and more similar everywhere) and everyman's local colloquial English ...
    1. Polish has been in Poland for a very long time, but Professor Higgins (or his Polish opposite number) would miserably fail in all but a few regions. What I am saying is that your theory holds true on condition that the country in question has not recently been ethnically rolled into one as Poland was in 1945.

    2. It may be a widely-accepted consensus, but is a real Eureka to me!!! Thanks for sharing.

    3. Would you not agree that there is one more English which has every right to be on your "list"? Could not English as a Second Language (ESL) be considered as an important variant with so many giving it a try for better or worse? I have a gut feeling that ESL speakers far outnumber more than one "everyman's local colloquial"
    I wonder if the relationship between the adopted sibling (ESL) and the natural one (native English) could not be looked at in a separate thread of this forum?

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?

    I agree there are a few forms of something we could loosely call International English, but no, I don't think ESL is one of them, it's heterogeneous, and those who speak 'ESL' do so with a great deal of interference from their mother tongues; those interferences aren't characteristics of English, just the various sorts of confusion multilingual people can struggle with.

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