Is Australia about to descend into civil warfare over whether a deep-fried potato snack is rightfully known as a “potato cake” or a “potato scallop”? From some latest headlines, you could be forgiven for thinking so.
A sequence of maps showing differences in words used throughout 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 have been put collectively as part of an academic activity for college students participating in the Linguistics Roadshow, the massive curiosity in the way in which Australian English is used across the nation took us unexpectedly. But, maybe it shouldn’t have.
It’s typically mentioned that Australian English doesn’t differ much geographically – and it’s true that we don’t discover the identical hanging linguistic variations throughout the nation as in some other corners of the English-talking world.
However, past and ongoing research has proven that there are some regional variations. Among the most obvious are the phrases folks use for the same thing, such as swimwear – preferences for “togs”, “swimmers”, “cossie” or “bathers” differ markedly across the states and territories.
Words for swimwear round Australia Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan 'Mapping phrases round Australia'
Where do these linguistic differences stem from?
Australian English developed from the speech of colonists from varied components of the British Isles, so generally the word used in a selected Australian region is the result of one option winning out amongst people from totally different British backgrounds.
Others may be derived from the names of individuals or brands, or borrowed from local Indigenous languages.
Each word has its own history, but many phrases throughout the country have a shared historical past - that’s what makes these exceptions stand out.
What’s fascinating is just how neatly some of this variation traces up with state strains, which means that there is something extra than just the historic selections made by colonists or the distance between completely different places contributing to those variations.
Striking examples of this phenomenon can be seen for border cities similar to Albury-Wodonga, the place a brief walk throughout the bridge means you’ll hear a majority of people utilizing a special word for swimwear.
More ‘bathers’ on the Victorian facet of the border, more ‘swimmers’ on the New South Wales side. Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan 'Mapping words round Australia' Whether you call your swimwear, togs, bathers, swimsuit, budgie smugglers doesn’t matter, the very fact is you have to buy high quality Australian Made chlorine resistant swimwear, if you want your swimwear to be snug and final.
This is because sure words turn into strongly associated with a regional id.
When there's multiple option to choose from, individuals would possibly use a specific word because it’s the most common time period in their group, but also because that word indexes a broader group identification, corresponding to Victorian versus New South Wales.
Words are notably good at doing this kind of work: they very simply turn into id markers that people orient to.
Pronunciation variations can also function on this way: does “dance” rhyme with “aunts” or “pants” for you?
Other kinds of variation can fly beneath the radar because they’re extra refined, or a part of a change in progress.
Many Australians aren't aware, for example, that in components of Victoria “celery” is pronounced extra like “salary” – hear out for it subsequent time you’re in “Malbourne”!
When we communicate we have a tendency to use the phrases, pronunciations and linguistic patterns that we hear most frequently within 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 are at any given moment.
What is Australian English?
Australian English is really a broad cover time period for several types of English used throughout the country, together with the varieties utilized by totally different Indigenous and ethnocultural teams.
This is cross-minimize by the linguistic preferences of people representing different age teams, gender identities, and social and cultural backgrounds, with different vocations, interests and networks.
We are part of many communities simultaneously and might specific our belonging in various ways.
Someone could be an Australian, a Thai descendent, a soccer participant, a lady, a student of drugs, and a Tumblr person, and be very adept at gauging the completely different areas they participate in and selecting how they want to determine inside them.
This is an important part of what languages do – they allow us to speak not just data, however something about who we're.
‘Sausage sandwiches’ are preferred in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan 'Mapping phrases round Australia'
So, next time you end up arguing about sausage sandwiches versus sausages in bread, remember that whichever time period you employ, you’re contributing to the dynamic linguistic diversity of Australia.