Attitudes Towards Australian English

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Attitudes towards Australian English
Attitudes towards Australian English have varied from over the past 200 years. The Australian accent was developed so the first generation could identify themselves as Australians. During the late 19th century, attitudes towards the Australian accent became negative and were in favour of British English. However, one hundred years later, opinions changed and the Australian accent was once again seen as a part of the national identity of Australia. The creation of the Australian accent emanated from the need of the first generation Australians to be identified as Australian and not of the nationality of their migrant parents. The levelling of dialects allowed for a new dialect of English to be formed, distinct from that of their parents and similar to that of each other. The Australian accent was then passed from the first generation to the second generation, thus stabilising the phonemes used and hence establishing it as Australian English. The development and use of Australian English was seen as a marker of identity as being an Australian. However, opinions about the Australian accent became negative and considered as inferior and ‘wrong’. Up until the 1880s, the accent of native-born Australians was regarded as ‘pure’- having removed any British dialect (Moore, 2008). But there were growing negative comments about the Australian accent, evident in the reports of school inspectors. In 1891, an inspector wrote that instead of ‘the brown bear’, ‘a child might read-“the breown bear”’ (Moore, 2008) which varied from the Standard British English. In 1893, Sir John Madden, in a speech to the Methodist Ladies’ College, insisted that young Australians should ‘pronounce the English vowels as they were intended’ (Moore, 2008). The introduction of elocution classes in the 1890s were an attempt to ‘fix’ the Australian accent and move towards ‘received pronunciation’. At this time, Australian English was viewed negatively by Australian...
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