Saturday, May 26, 2007

G'day G'day

After almost three months in Australia, I'm getting accustomed to hearing Australian accents all the time. When I speak myself, I am quite conscious of my own American accent, especially the hardness of my Rs. I haven't picked up much of an Aussie accent, though my "g'day" has gotten pretty good. (Strangely enough though, when I'm watching television, it will sometimes take me quite awhile before I'm aware that the speaker is British or American. It seems that there's some sort of commonality to the TV news anchor or documentary narrator that spans all dialects of English.) The accent in Adelaide is a bit different from the standard Australian accent, it's formally called "cultivated Australian" and is much closer to British English. There are two other dialects, "broad" (think the Crocodile Hunter, RIP) and "standard" (think Nicole Kidman). For example, in Adelaide the word "rather" rhymes with how we pronounce "father", as do all words with a short a in the middle, like chance, path etc. People on the east coast say chance and rather the same way we do, except more nasally. Adelaidians claim it's because they were settled by second sons of wealthy British elites and pious German protestants instead of filthy convicts or Irish (which I guess would explain the huge preponderance of Anglican and Lutheran churches--there's literally almost a church on every corner in town). My guess is they preserved it over time for the pure snob factor. (no, actually people in Adelaide are very nice and friendly--though where did your father go to school again?). Another difference is elsewhere in Australia people say 'haitch' for the letter 'h', which in Adelaide might get you shot. Same goes with 'yous.'

Though also, some 's'es get pronounced as 'sh', for example assume becomes ashume etc. Occasionally, some one will say schedule like shedule. And of course, no one pronounces their Rs unless at the beginning of the word. Also, words like 'mate' and day get more of an 'ai' pronunciation, though less of that in Adelaide than in other parts of Australia. Which makes the Adelaide accent much harder to pick up, because it's actually more of a cross between an English and an Australian accent. I suppose English people might be better at imitating it though.

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