Is Australia about to descend into civil warfare over whether or not a deep-fried potato snack is rightfully known as a “potato cake” or a “potato scallop”? From some recent headlines, you may be forgiven for thinking 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 had been put together as part of an academic activity for college students taking part in the Linguistics Roadshow, the massive curiosity in the way Australian English is used across the country took us unexpectedly. But, perhaps it shouldn’t have.
It’s often stated that Australian English doesn’t vary much geographically – and it’s true that we don’t discover the same putting linguistic differences throughout the country as in another corners of the English-speaking world.
However, past and ongoing research has shown that there are some regional differences. Among the obvious are the phrases folks use for a similar factor, corresponding to 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'
Where do these linguistic variations stem from?
Australian English developed from the speech of colonists from numerous components of the British Isles, so generally the word used in a specific Australian area is the results of one choice successful out among individuals from totally different British backgrounds.
Others may be derived from the names of individuals or brands, or borrowed from native Indigenous languages.
Each word has its own 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 simply how neatly some of this variation strains up with state lines, which suggests that there's something extra than just the historic choices made by colonists or the gap between completely different locations contributing to these differences.
Striking examples of this phenomenon can be seen for border cities corresponding to Albury-Wodonga, the place a brief stroll throughout the bridge means you’ll hear a majority of people utilizing a special word for swimwear.
More ‘bathers’ on the Victorian aspect of the border, more ‘swimmers’ on the New South Wales side. Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan 'Mapping phrases around Australia' Whether you call your swimwear, togs, bathers, swimsuit, budgie smugglers doesn’t matter, the very fact is you should purchase high quality Australian Made chlorine resistant swimwear, if you want your swimwear to be snug and last.
This is as a result of certain phrases turn into strongly related to a regional identification.
When there may be more than one option to choose from, people may use a selected word as a result of it’s the commonest time period of their group, but also as a result of that word indexes a broader group id, corresponding to Victorian versus New South Wales.
Words are significantly good at doing this kind of work: they very easily turn into identity markers that folks orient to.
Pronunciation variations can also function on this means: does “dance” rhyme with “aunts” or “pants” for you?
Other kinds of variation can fly underneath the radar as a result of they’re extra subtle, or part of a change in progress.
Many Australians aren't aware, for instance, that in parts of Victoria “celery” is pronounced extra like “salary” – listen out for it subsequent time you’re in “Malbourne”!
When we communicate we have a tendency to make use of the words, pronunciations and linguistic patterns that we hear most frequently in the communities we stay in.
Identity is a dynamic and ongoing course of that all of us actively take part in, and we use the variation inherent in language to specific who we're at any given second.
What is Australian English?
Australian English is really a broad cover time period for various kinds of English used across the nation, including the varieties used by completely different Indigenous and ethnocultural groups.
This is cross-minimize by the linguistic preferences of people representing totally different age teams, gender identities, and social and cultural backgrounds, with different vocations, interests and networks.
We are a part of many communities simultaneously and might categorical our belonging in varied ways.
Someone could be an Australian, a Thai descendent, a soccer player, a girl, a pupil of medication, and a Tumblr user, and be very adept at gauging the totally different areas they participate in and choosing how they need to determine inside them.
This is a vital a part of what languages do – they allow us to communicate not simply data, but 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 words round Australia'
So, next time you end up arguing about sausage sandwiches versus sausages in bread, remember that whichever time period you use, you’re contributing to the dynamic linguistic diversity of Australia.