Is Australia about to descend into civil war over whether or not a deep-fried potato snack is rightfully referred to as a “potato cake” or a “potato scallop”? From some recent headlines, you could be forgiven for considering so.
A sequence of maps showing differences in phrases used across Australia sparked fierce debates online over the virtues of calling a barbecued sausage served in a single slice of bread a “sausage in bread” or a “sausage sandwich”.
Given that these maps were put collectively as part of an educational exercise for students collaborating in the Linguistics Roadshow, the massive curiosity in the best way Australian English is used across the country took us by surprise. But, maybe it shouldn’t have.
It’s usually stated that Australian English doesn’t differ a lot geographically – and it’s true that we don’t discover the same hanging linguistic differences throughout the country as in another corners of the English-speaking world.
However, past and ongoing analysis has shown that there are some regional differences. Among the obvious are the words folks use for the same thing, such as swimwear – preferences for “togs”, “swimmers”, “cossie” or “bathers” range markedly across the states and territories.
Words for swimwear round Australia Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan 'Mapping words round Australia' (bit.ly/AusWordsMaps)
Where do these linguistic variations stem from?
Australian English developed from the speech of colonists from various components of the British Isles, so typically the word utilized in a specific Australian area is the results of one choice successful out among folks from completely different British backgrounds.
Others could be derived from the names of individuals or manufacturers, or borrowed from native Indigenous languages.
Each word has its personal historical past, however many phrases across the country have a shared historical past - that’s what makes these exceptions stand out.
What’s fascinating is just how neatly a few of this variation lines up with state lines, which suggests that there is something extra than simply the historical choices made by colonists or the space between different places contributing to those variations.
Striking examples of this phenomenon can be seen for border cities corresponding to Albury-Wodonga, where a short stroll throughout the bridge means you’ll hear a majority of individuals utilizing a different word for swimwear.
More ‘bathers’ on the Victorian aspect of the border, extra ‘swimmers’ on the New South Wales facet. Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan 'Mapping words round Australia' (bit.ly/AusWordsMaps) Whether you name your swimwear, togs, bathers, swimsuit, budgie smugglers doesn’t matter, the very fact is you have to purchase quality Australian Made chlorine resistant swimwear, if you want your swimwear to be snug and last.
This is as a result of sure phrases turn into strongly associated with a regional id.
When there is more than one possibility to select from, individuals may use a specific word as a result of it’s the most common time period in their group, but in addition because that word indexes a broader group identity, such as Victorian versus New South Wales.
Words are particularly good at doing this kind of work: they very simply turn into id markers that individuals orient to.
Pronunciation variations also can function on this method: does “dance” rhyme with “aunts” or “pants” for you?
Other sorts of variation can fly underneath the radar as a result of they’re more delicate, or part of a change in progress.
Many Australians aren't aware, for instance, that in parts of Victoria “celery” is pronounced more like “salary” – hear out for it next time you’re in “Malbourne”!
When we talk we have a tendency to use the phrases, pronunciations and linguistic patterns that we hear most frequently in the communities we live in.
Identity is a dynamic and ongoing course of that we all actively participate in, and we use the variation inherent in language to precise who we're at any given moment.
What is Australian English?
Australian English is mostly a broad cover term for several types of English used throughout the country, together with the varieties used by completely different Indigenous and ethnocultural groups.
This is cross-cut by the linguistic preferences of people representing different age teams, gender identities, and social and cultural backgrounds, with completely different vocations, interests and networks.
We are part of many communities simultaneously and might express our belonging in various methods.
Someone can be an Australian, a Thai descendent, a soccer player, a woman, a pupil of medication, and a Tumblr person, and be very adept at gauging the different areas they participate in and choosing how they want to determine within them.
This is a crucial part of what languages do – they permit us to communicate not just info, however one thing about who we're.
‘Sausage sandwiches’ are most popular in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan 'Mapping phrases round Australia'So, subsequent time you end up arguing about sausage sandwiches versus sausages in bread, do not forget that whichever term you use, you’re contributing to the dynamic linguistic diversity of Australia.