The Australian population in America has been rising ever since Congress during the Bush Administration created the E-3 visa in 2005 as a part of trade negotiations, a visa only Australians can receive, which allows Aussies to work in the US without restrictions. This means Australian-owned businesses have been popping up like wildfire across the United States. Along with those businesses these happy-go-lucky individuals have brought with them their delightfully charming accents.
But have you ever wondered how the Australian accent came to be in the first place? Sure, the country was founded by British criminals, but South Africa was also founded by Brits and their accent is much more in line with their homeland than the Aussie one. On top of this, while many of the people who settled Australia probably had cockney accents, that doesn’t fully explain how the dialect evolved into the quintessential Aussie slur responsible for catch phrases such as “G’day mate” and “throw another shrimp on the barbie.” For this evolution, we can thank alcohol.
Early settlers of Australia drank quite bit – which they also seem to have passed down through the generations – and it seems the alcohol impacted speech patterns to such a degree that the drunken slur became common-place, even when the population wasn’t drunk.
According to Dean Frenkel, a public speaking and communications lecturer at Melbourne’s Victoria University, “Our forefathers regularly got drunk together and through their frequent interactions, unknowingly added an alcoholic slur to our national speech patterns… Aussie-speak developed in the early days of colonial settlement from a cocktail of English, Irish, Aboriginal and German – before another mystery influence was slipped into the mix.” That mystery influence of course was booze.
The Australian dialect formed as people continued to hear the speech patterns of those around them, and adopted those patterns themselves. These patterns included dropping syllables and abbreviating words, which researchers have linked back to alcohol being in the speaker’s system. “The average Australian speaks to just two thirds capacity – with one third of our articulator muscles always sedentary as if lying on the couch,” says Frenkel.
And while most other cultures might balk at this research, it’s actually been pretty openly embraced in Australia. Some are even using it as an excuse to push for Australians to clean up their dialect while others seem to feel there is no need – the accent is a part of the country’s heritage. We wholeheartedly agree, plus now when we speak with an Aussie, we can assume the slurred speech is coming from a few too many beers.
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