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Reviewed by:
  • English in Australia ed. by David Blair, Peter Collins
  • Alan S. Kaye
English in Australia. Ed. By David Blair and Peter Collins. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2001. Pp. vi, 366. $115.00.

This is another in the valuable series Varieties of English around the world, edited by Edgar W. Schneider. The editors make it clear in their comprehensive introduction, ‘Language and identity in Australia’, that the origins of Australian English (AE) can be traced back to late eighteenth-century southeast England and that it developed into a distinct variety within its first half-century (1–13).

I discovered soon after arriving in ‘Oz’ on a recent trip that AE is commonly thought to have little or no regional variation. Unquestionably, this is untrue. [End Page 216] Furthermore, AE social variation is well-known since there exists an accent continuum: ‘Broad Australian’ through ‘General’ to ‘Cultivated’ (2). The latter is similar to RP in the United Kingdom. I also noticed on arrival ‘Down Under’ a phenomenal influence from American English in vocabulary as well as culture. Not only were there many sections in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Melbourne which reminded me directly of ‘Almost Anywhere USA’, but also quoted research by Brian Taylor (‘American, British and other foreign influences on Australian English since World War II’, Australian English: The language of a new society, ed. by Peter Collins and David Blair, 225–54, St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1989) demonstrates that American English influenced AE in phonology, as the more British-type finánce has shifted its stress to fínance (4–5).

The book is divided into two sections. Section A, with eight articles, deals with the structure of AE, whereas Section B, with ten articles, is on variation. My remarks focus on one from each section selected solely in accordance with my background and interests, followed by the remaining titles and authors.

Jane Simpson’s ‘Hypocoristics of place-names in Australian English’ (89–112) is a fascinating study of 346 alternate names of places, buildings, landmarks, etc. Examples include many with -i, for example, Tazzie for Tasmania, Crowie for Crows Nest, Mordy for Mordialloc, and Birchie for Birchgrove. There are several interesting hypocoristic forms with the definite article, for example, the Alice for Alice Springs and the Cross for Kings Cross (a section of Sydney). I have always thought of those as parallel to American English the City (=, e.g. San Francisco).

Bruce Moore’s ‘Australian English and indigenous voices’ (133–49) discusses Aboriginal loanwords in AE. I can verify, based on my personal experience in January 2002, that the term Aborigines or Aboriginals is being used less frequently; many Aboriginals understandably dislike these labels since they carry negative baggage. Gaining widespread usage in New South Wales and Victoria is Koori ‘aboriginal person’, a loanword from Awakabal. Murri (from Kamilaroi) is its equivalent in Queensland while Nyoongah (from Nyungar) is used in Perth.

The other articles and authors are: Felicity Cox and Sallyanne Palethorpe, ‘Vowel change: Synchronic and diachronic evidence’; Laura Tollfree, ‘Variation and change in Australian consonants: Reduction of /t/’; Toni Borowski, ‘The vocalisation of dark 1 in Australian English’; Mark Newbrook, ‘Syntactic features and norms in Australian English’; Susan Butler, ‘Australian English—an identity crisis’; Pam Peeters, ‘Corpus evidence on Australian style and usage’; Anna Shnukal, ‘Torres Strait English’; Ian Malcom, “Aboriginal English: Adopted code of a surviving culture’; Michael Clyne, Edina Eiskovits, and Laura Tollfree, ‘Ethnic varieties of Australian English’; Scott Kiesling, ‘Australian English and recent migrant groups’; Jane Curtain, ‘The acquisition of colloquialisms by non-native speakers’; David Bradley and Maya Bradley, ‘Changing attitudes to Australian English’; Colin Yallop, ‘A. G. Mitchell and the development of Australian pronunciation’; Arthur Delbridge, ‘Lexicography and national identity: The Australian experience’; Brian Taylor, ‘Australian English in interaction with other Englishes’; and Barbara M. Horvath and Ronald J. Horvath, ‘Short A in Australian English: A geolinguistic study’.

In conclusion, these polished articles...


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