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MysteryFellow63427
07-16-2003, 12:40 AM
A few days ago, I was in a bar and overheard a nearby patron talking in what sounded like an Australian accent. I was curious, so I asked him where he was from. Melbourne? Sydney? "No," he told me, "I'm from Birmingham [England.]" Well, that sure made me feel like an ignorant American.

So - what differences are their between different Australian and English accents? Is it hard at all for native ears to tell the difference between North Atlantic english and South Pacific english?

Dogface
07-16-2003, 12:42 AM
I've not made a real study of it, but I can tell them apart (I'm from Indiana, so you-uns all talk funny all over the USA). OZzies seem to have more of an "edge" on their vowels. That's really all I can say.

antechinus
07-16-2003, 12:52 AM
A Birmingham accent is very distinctive - it has severe rising inflection at the end of each sentence.

An Aussie accent is just very normal. :)

Princhester
07-16-2003, 03:54 AM
Originally posted by neuroman
A few days ago, I was in a bar and overheard a nearby patron talking in what sounded like an Australian accent. I was curious, so I asked him where he was from. Melbourne? Sydney? "No," he told me, "I'm from Birmingham [England.]" Well, that sure made me feel like an ignorant American.

So - what differences are their between different Australian and English accents?

Too many to list. For a start, the vowel are all shifted around. To an English person, when an Australian says fish and chips, we sound like we are saying "feesh and cheeps" and a Kiwi sounds like they are saying "fush and chups". Australians sound very nasal to an English person, and they say we tend to drawl (which we do, though the degree of drawl depends on your socio/educational/regional background).

There are many other differences but I'm no linguist.

Is it hard at all for native ears to tell the difference between North Atlantic english and South Pacific english?

Hell. No.

In fact, (I'm not trying to be insulting here) I find a surprising number of Americans to be stunningly obtuse when it comes to accents (understanding them, recognising them).

Sorry neuroman but you have done nothing to alter my prejudices: again, I don't mean to be insulting but to not be able to tell the difference between Strine and Brummie is, to a native, just unbelievable.

amanset
07-16-2003, 04:16 AM
It is startlingly common for someone from the UK to be confused with an Aussie in the US, but quite why just baffles people from Australia and the UK.

Some popular culture references this, for example IIRC the episodes of "Only Fools and Horses" where Del-boy et al went to the US had a running joek where everyone thought they were Aussies.

Anyway, you think that is bad? The guy cleaning my room in Atlanta thought I was French. Yeah, my Warwickshire accent is soooooooo French-sounding.

Mangetout
07-16-2003, 04:17 AM
This is not the first time I've heard an Amercian say this, but for me (a Brit) it seems unbelievable.

It should be mentioned that there are a really wide diversity of regional accents within spoken English just within the British Isles.

It probably comes down to familiarity; I've had trouoble telling a Canadian Accent from an American one before now (although I'm sure this sounds laughable to anyone from one of those countries).

Jack Sarang
07-16-2003, 06:06 AM
Originally posted by Mangetout
It probably comes down to familiarity; I've had trouoble telling a Canadian Accent from an American one before now (although I'm sure this sounds laughable to anyone from one of those countries).

It doesn't because the difference between Canadian and American accents is minimal at best. The whole "aboot" thing is just hyperbole and is limited to certain segments of the Maritime (East Coast) population. Canadians with the strongest accent are from the Maritimes as well.

As a Canadian I have no trouble discerning the difference between a British and Australia accent, I can also break down regional British accents. But this probably has alot to do with both my parents being British and having visited England alot. In my travels I've met alot of Kiwis and Aussies and do have some trouble distinguishing the accent.

The biggest difference between Canadians and Americans is patterns of speech, not accent. Its small nuaces that stick out. For instance, Americans refer to levels in school as 1st Grade, 7th Grade, 12th Grade etc. Canadians reverse it, you're in Grade 6, Grade 9, etc.

Mangetout
07-16-2003, 06:28 AM
Trouble is that it is hard to objectively measure the difference or distance between accents. Personally (and entirely subjectively) I'd say there's a greater difference between English as spoken by a (stereo)typical Glaswegian and a typical resident of Surrey, than there is between a typical resident of Portsmouth and a typical Australian.

Then again, other regional accents can be hard to tell apart - Somerset and Norfolk accents are quite similar (to my ear) even though they are on opposite sides of the isle.

Jervoise
07-16-2003, 06:30 AM
Originally posted by neuroman
Is it hard at all for native ears to tell the difference between North Atlantic english and South Pacific english? :eek:

Forgive our astonishment, but this question is perhaps akin to someone asking, "Is it hard to tell the difference between North American and South American english?"

I'm no linguist, but to my ear the Australian accent is characterised by distinctly flat vowel sounds and a slightly nasal tone. English accents are too numerous to describe individually, but this page (http://elt.britcoun.org.pl/i_regide.htm) has a go at it.

MC Master of Ceremonies
07-16-2003, 07:02 AM
Strewth mate! y'can't tell when a blowke's stalking 'strine?

There's been alot of work done documeting the Austrailian accent and it is quite distinct from the numerous British accents.

Shrinking Violet
07-16-2003, 09:13 AM
Originally posted by Mangetout
Somerset and Norfolk accents are quite similar (to my ear) even though they are on opposite sides of the isle.

Mangetout ...... East Anglians never roll their rrrrrrrrs, and West Country folk can't seem to help it! :D

I have always thought that the Aussie accent bears a striking resemblance to my native Suffolk, and I once read on the Net (sorry no cite, tho' I've Googled for it) that this is because of the large proportion of Suffolk immigrants to Australia way back when.

Julie

TheLoadedDog
07-16-2003, 09:18 AM
Bear in mind too that the very nasal Australian accent is mostly found away from the cities, and even then tends to be amongst the older people (although there are exceptions to both of these). Australian vowels are now getting shorter and less pronounced; we are drifting towards a New Zealand accent. There have also been changes due to the large influx of migrants from the Mediterranean, SE Asia, and elsewhere. The "young urban" accent in Sydney and Melbourne reflects this. If you listen to a twenty year old Australian-born child of Asian parents, you will often find he has the same accent as his friend born of Greek parents. The speech is fast, clipped, and the vowels are swallowed. "Wheels" won't be the "wheeeeeeeeaaalz" you'd expect from the traditional Aussie accent, but rather something like "Wooz".

TheLoadedDog
07-16-2003, 09:18 AM
Bear in mind too that the very nasal Australian accent is mostly found away from the cities, and even then tends to be amongst the older people (although there are exceptions to both of these). Australian vowels are now getting shorter and less pronounced; we are drifting towards a New Zealand accent. There have also been changes due to the large influx of migrants from the Mediterranean, SE Asia, and elsewhere. The "young urban" accent in Sydney and Melbourne reflects this. If you listen to a twenty year old Australian-born child of Asian parents, you will often find he has the same accent as his friend born of Greek parents. The speech is fast, clipped, and the vowels are swallowed. "Wheels" won't be the "wheeeeeeeeaaalz" you'd expect from the traditional Aussie accent, but rather something like "Wooz".

In my experience, anyway. :)

bayonet1976
07-16-2003, 09:56 AM
Originally posted by Princhester
In fact, (I'm not trying to be insulting here) I find a surprising number of Americans to be stunningly obtuse when it comes to accents (understanding them, recognising them).

I think the obtuseness is probably related to what you're used to hearing. I recently met an english couple and we got to talking about accents, they were completely unable to tell the difference between a New England accent, a Texas accent, a Southern Accent, and a California accent. They were excellent at distinguishing between English and Australian accents though, go figure.

SmackFu
07-16-2003, 10:20 AM
For all the Australians and English chiming in here: it seems obvious it would be easier to tell your accent from someone else's, than it would to tell apart two distinct accents that are not your own. Americans have no troube distinguishing an American accent from virtually any other (except maybe Canadian).

Mangetout
07-16-2003, 10:37 AM
Originally posted by bayonet1976
I think the obtuseness is probably related to what you're used to hearing. I recently met an english couple and we got to talking about accents, they were completely unable to tell the difference between a New England accent, a Texas accent, a Southern Accent, and a California accent. They were excellent at distinguishing between English and Australian accents though, go figure. I'd say this is probably less common though simply because of the number of American entertainment products the rest of the world is exposed to; for example I can usually tell the difference between a Texas (Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner) accent and an East coast (Woody Allen, Bruce Willis) one (despite what I said about American/Canadian accents above)

Whereas English characters are quite often protrayed by non-English actors (Dick Van Dyke, Kevin Costner),- who make such a terrible job of mimicking the accent, and indeed in these cases it is hard to tell if they are meant to be English or Australian or something else altogether.
(please note that I'm not implying that any nationality is worse than any other at mimicking another's accent, my point is about the ubiquity of American entertainment).

I think we even once had some rather naive Californian person post here on the board asking "why does everyone else speak with an accent, when I don't?"

Eve
07-16-2003, 10:42 AM
Originally posted by Princhester
In fact, (I'm not trying to be insulting here) I find a surprising number of Americans to be stunningly obtuse when it comes to accents (understanding them, recognising them).

Ah, but you managed to be insulting anyway, thanks!

I can certainly tell an Aussie from a Brit—In fact, I can frequently tell what part of England someone's from. But South African accents throw me: I have mortally insulted South Africans by asking what part of England or Australia they're from.

Can any of you furriners tell someone from Baltimore from someone from Virginia? Or a Texan from a Louisianan?

everton
07-16-2003, 11:34 AM
Originally posted by SmackFu
For all the Australians and English chiming in here: it seems obvious it would be easier to tell your accent from someone else's, than it would to tell apart two distinct accents that are not your own. Americans have no troube distinguishing an American accent from virtually any other (except maybe Canadian).
But the OP asked "Is it hard at all for native ears to tell the difference between North Atlantic english and South Pacific english?" so perhaps your remark ought to have been made in that direction?

Personally, I have no difficulty telling apart a person from Australia and New Zealand let alone a person from either of those countries and an American, a Canadian or a South African. It's not simply a matter of comparing them with people from my own country.

Of course it certainly is a matter of familiarity and "getting your ear in" for the differences. That's why people can confuse accents even from places close to home. I'm not certain I could tell a Baltimore accent from a Virginia accent (you'd have to give me some celebrity examples, Eve), but I think I'd be OK comparing a Texan and a Louisianan. It might depend what part of Texas they were from.

FTR, Mangetout, James Garner is from Oklahoma not Texas, but I'm not at all sure I could tell the difference between his accent and someone from elsewhere in the midwest.

everton
07-16-2003, 12:14 PM
If it's any consolation to the OP I'd say that of all the British accents that might be confused with an Australian one the Birmingham accent would be the most likely. Of course, those of us from either country may be familiar with the differences, but describing them in writing is not easy.

For instance, antechinus (rightly) said that a Birmingham accent has severe rising inflection at the end of each sentence, but that's also a notable characteristic of an Australian accent (i.e. the Australian Questioning Intonation). Princhester also said that to an English person, when an Australian says fish and chips, it sounds like he is saying "feesh and cheeps", but many English people would give that as an example of a Birmingham pronunciation.

John Mace
07-16-2003, 12:29 PM
Americans just seem to have a tough time with Australian accents. Aussies and Brits always sound very different to me, but I've seem them confused often. Of course, the typical Aussie has a much more "colorful" vocabulary as well, which is often a dead give away.

I find the South African accent to be more similar to the Aussie accent, than the British one is. Still distinct, but closer.

But here in CA, I often hear people refer to an "East Coast accent" and it's common to confuse a Bostonian with a New Yorker or Philadelphian. Having grown up mostly in New England, that is just laughable to me. On the other hand, I have difficulty telling if someone is from South Carolina or Texas. It's just what you're used to hearing, that's all.

DrNick
07-16-2003, 12:36 PM
Originally posted by Mangetout
I'd say this is probably less common though simply because of the number of American entertainment products the rest of the world is exposed to; for example I can usually tell the difference between a Texas (Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner) accent and an East coast (Woody Allen, Bruce Willis) one (despite what I said about American/Canadian accents above)

Whereas English characters are quite often protrayed by non-English actors (Dick Van Dyke, Kevin Costner),- who make such a terrible job of mimicking the accent, and indeed in these cases it is hard to tell if they are meant to be English or Australian or something else altogether.
(please note that I'm not implying that any nationality is worse than any other at mimicking another's accent, my point is about the ubiquity of American entertainment).


I think this is exactly the point. I only have one American friend, yet I can easily distinguish an awful lot of American accents.

Not being able to distinguish Brummie from Strine - unbelievable as the concept seems - is purely down to having had probably no prior contact with Brummie ever (no doubt whatserface's allegedly Mancunian accent in Frasier being the closest most American media gets to it), and not a fat lot of Aussie.

Duke
07-16-2003, 12:41 PM
I'm wondering where all of you English chaps and lasses were when I lived in the UK and I was constantly being mis-identified as being from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Germany, you name it. I mean, even Canada would have been close enough (I'm not from Canada, either, though!) :D

I think part of the problem with just about anyone who says that they can identify someone from any part of the UK, Australia, NZ, etc. is that "regional accents" are generalizations that do not account for individual speech patterns. antechinus and everton refer to rising inflection (or "upspeak," as I've heard it called) as a feature of Brummie and Aussie accents. But I've heard it used by people in certain cliques, most notably "sorority girls," whose native accents didn't typically include it. I can see how someone from, say, Oxford who spoke with upspeak might conceivably be seen by an outsider to be Australian, even though no Oxonian or Aussie, who would perhaps be looking for other vocal clues, would do so.

I also agree to a large extent with SmackFu on that it's easier to tell someone who doesn't share your speech patterns. How many people from outside of Pennsylvania, for example, would be able to tell the difference between people from Lancaster, Pittsburgh, the west-central coal counties, and Scranton? I could probably do so, but I couldn't expect many from outside of PA to do it. And Pennsylvania is the same physical size, if not the same population size, as England proper.

The Chao Goes Mu
07-16-2003, 01:13 PM
I think that Aussie and Brit accents are quite easy to discern. But trying to pin down the differences would require an in depth linguistic analysis...sheeesh! It's really no more difficult than being able to pick up on differences in the States. I'm from NW Ohio (no drawl) and people 1 hour south of here have a drawl....but oddly, not in Columbus. Even in the South, the drawls are different...I can tell a Kentuckian from a Virginian, from a Texan from a Georgian. Even in the city of Boston various accents abound.
Ok, I don't have time to scroll back throught the responses but whoever said they have a difficult time with South African accents...I am right there with you... of all the accents in the world, that one gets me everytime. Anybody out there know of any cues to be able to tell if one is from S. Africa as oppossed to England?

ruadh
07-16-2003, 01:32 PM
Originally posted by everton
If it's any consolation to the OP I'd say that of all the British accents that might be confused with an Australian one the Birmingham accent would be the most likely.

Really? I don't hear any similarities between the two at all. I'd think a Cockney accent would be the most likely; both are similarly ... I dunno, extreme is the word that comes to mind.

As for the South African accent, I think it's a lot closer to Aus/NZ than to England, but a bit duller.

Amethyst
07-16-2003, 01:40 PM
Originally posted by Jack Sarang
It doesn't because the difference between Canadian and American accents is minimal at best. The whole "aboot" thing is just hyperbole and is limited to certain segments of the Maritime (East Coast) population. Canadians with the strongest accent are from the Maritimes as well.

As a Canadian I have no trouble discerning the difference between a British and Australia accent, I can also break down regional British accents. But this probably has alot to do with both my parents being British and having visited England alot. In my travels I've met alot of Kiwis and Aussies and do have some trouble distinguishing the accent.

The biggest difference between Canadians and Americans is patterns of speech, not accent. Its small nuaces that stick out. For instance, Americans refer to levels in school as 1st Grade, 7th Grade, 12th Grade etc. Canadians reverse it, you're in Grade 6, Grade 9, etc.

While I do agree that some of the phrases and words chosen are different between Canadians and Americans, I definitely notice a difference in our accents.

I'm always amazed that you don't have to go far across the border to notice differences. I just came back from spending the weekend in Northwestern Ohio, and they certainly have a different accent there and some of them commented on my accent. One year when I went to this same part of Ohio, the group of us at the sailing club played a game of homonyms while drinking beer and sitting round the fire. The regional accents resulted in pairs of homonyms that were strongly contested.

Also if you are talking about Canadian accents, don't forget Newfoundland (not part of the Maritimes).

bordelond
07-16-2003, 02:49 PM
As far as comparing Brummie to Strine, listen alternatively to Ozzy Osborne and Steve Irwin.

For best results, try to catch snippets of Ozzie's speech from the mid- to late-90s, if not earlier. Failing that, I understand that his recent speech is not easy to wade through. Still, Ozzy has had scattered moments of clarity on his family's show -- often when he is talking earnestly to his family, staff, or fans.

In the same vein, ignore when Irwin is excitedly expounding upon pouncing a "feisty croc" or some other such tense moment -- he clearly plays to the camera. Listen to him when he is shown talking to his wife or his staff in behind-the-scenes settings. That's Irwin's speech at its most natural.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
07-16-2003, 03:04 PM
Originally posted by Narrad
:eek:

Forgive our astonishment, but this question is perhaps akin to someone asking, "Is it hard to tell the difference between North American and South American english?"

I'm no linguist, but to my ear the Australian accent is characterised by distinctly flat vowel sounds and a slightly nasal tone. English accents are too numerous to describe individually, but this page (http://elt.britcoun.org.pl/i_regide.htm) has a go at it.

According to that site, the only accent worth mentioning in my area is a scouse accent.

:rolleyes:

I can't believe that's butter!
07-16-2003, 03:06 PM
Maybe it's just me, but I always thought that those Canadians who pronounce 'about' differently than the majority of Americans pronounce it more like 'aboat' that aboot'. Same thing with 'out', 'doubt' etc. in many cases. Other than that, I have actually mistaken Canadians for Southerners a few times—to me at least, some seem to share the same cadence.

It took a bit, but thanks to years of experience, I'm able to tell a few British dialects apart, such as Birmingham vs. RSE vs. Cockney vs. Yorkshire etc., but I have had little to zero success with Australian accents vs. each other and those of the UK.

I also made the mistake of saying to a South-African lady that she sounded somewhat British. "Oh! Don't say that," she said somewhat amusingly.

Wumpus
07-16-2003, 03:54 PM
Canadians don't actually say "aboot" - and some will get quite annoyed if you suggest that they do! However, they don't pronounce the word the same way as the average American, either.

After years of extensive analysis :) I've determined that what (some) Canadians do is pronouce both the "o" and the "u", eliding them together.

For example, a typical US midwesterner will pronounce it "uh-bahwwwt." A typical Canadian (or at least Eastern Ontarian) will say it, "uh-bahw-oot," melding the last two syllables together into one. So yes, as Joe K says, it's a bit like "aboat," but not quite.

MelCthefirst
07-16-2003, 06:11 PM
Bill Bryson's book 'Mother Tongue', although a little difficult to wade through, is thorough in it's dealing with accents and dialects. All English speaking accents in the 'new world' are that way because of where the immigrants came from in England.
So there are many commonalities in accent between different English speaking regions.
I must say that after having been away from NZ for a long time(although I'm British born with British accented parents) I noticed huge similarities between the Aussie accent and the American one. If you're only vaguely listening, they can sound the same. Also, when first coming to NZ it took me a number of years to distinguish the difference between the Aussie and the Kiwi accent and yet, Aussies and Kiwis can hear the difference immediately.
In a recent study of accent, apparently the Queen's vowels are becoming the same as Kiwi vowels!

MC Master of Ceremonies
07-16-2003, 06:42 PM
Originally posted by MelCthefirst
Bill Bryson's book 'Mother Tongue', although a little difficult to wade through, is thorough in it's dealing with accents and dialects. All English speaking accents in the 'new world' are that way because of where the immigrants came from in England.
So there are many commonalities in accent between different English speaking regions.
I must say that after having been away from NZ for a long time(although I'm British born with British accented parents) I noticed huge similarities between the Aussie accent and the American one. If you're only vaguely listening, they can sound the same. Also, when first coming to NZ it took me a number of years to distinguish the difference between the Aussie and the Kiwi accent and yet, Aussies and Kiwis can hear the difference immediately.
In a recent study of accent, apparently the Queen's vowels are becoming the same as Kiwi vowels!

Don't mention Bill Bryson and linguistics at the same time, the two don't go together!

MelCthefirst
07-16-2003, 08:14 PM
Can you elaborate?

robinc308
07-16-2003, 10:47 PM
Most accents have something that typifies one of the most identifiable features.

Canadian aboot (which isn't quite right), New Zealand fush and chups have both been mentioned in this thread. I would suggest a couple more:

South Africa is pronounced by South Africans as a sort of South Effrica.

And ask an Australian to say "party" it comes out more like "paaah-dy"

MC Master of Ceremonies
07-17-2003, 05:54 AM
Originally posted by MelCthefirst
Can you elaborate?

There's already been a thread on it (in the pit I think), Bill Bryson is not a linguist and his book The Mother Tongue is responsible for the propagation of several urban myths (for example that the closest accent to Shakespearian English is in the New England area - it's not, it's in the West Midlands) about linguistics.

I've said it before, but A History of the English Language by Cable and Baugh is a much better bet.

Mangetout
07-17-2003, 06:06 AM
Originally posted by everton
FTR, Mangetout, James Garner is from Oklahoma not Texas, but I'm not at all sure I could tell the difference between his accent and someone from elsewhere in the midwest. [/B]Fair enough (I rather suspected I'd come a cropper sooner or later), although Garner did live in Texas for a while - that's the excuse I'll be sticking to.

everton
07-17-2003, 09:13 AM
Originally posted by ruadh
Originally posted by everton
If it's any consolation to the OP I'd say that of all the British accents that might be confused with an Australian one the Birmingham accent would be the most likely.
Really? I don't hear any similarities between the two at all. I'd think a Cockney accent would be the most likely; both are similarly ... I dunno, extreme is the word that comes to mind.

As for the South African accent, I think it's a lot closer to Aus/NZ than to England, but a bit duller.
Well the rising terminal intonation and "feesh and cheeps" are two things Brummie and Strine have in common, but I've often heard it said that the origin of Strine was Cockney + the climate. If you can do a Cockney accent and then squint as though you're trying to get used to harsh sunshine it does go a bit Aussie.

I've noticed that South Africans have a tendency to pronounce "off" as "orf", which is uncommon in the UK these days but turns up in films from the '40s and '50s. Of course, plenty of idiosyncracies you might notice when a South African speaks English are accounted for by the fact that it may well not be their first language.

Mangetout
07-17-2003, 09:34 AM
Australian and South African sound similar to me (although I'd only mistake them for one another if the sample size was just a few short words); they both pronounce 'yes' as (something like) "yi-ess"

Interesting what you said about climate everton - I have often wondered if the clipped, guttural accents of northern Europe were brought about partly by a need to be heard above fierce winds.

everton
07-17-2003, 11:49 AM
Pardon?

+MDI: the person behind that site Narrad linked to said he didn't claim his list was exhaustive and apologised if your area was left out. Why not drop him a line and tell him what people sound like where you're from?

BTW, none of the Aussies have pointed out that there is more than one Australian accent. I wouldn't know where to begin trying to tell a Queenslander from a person from Adelaide, but I bet they can.

UnwrittenNocturne
07-17-2003, 12:00 PM
Yup..and I am not even a native Australian.
The Aussie accent (and the Kiwi one) ae dependent on region/education a bit.
They are also, I suspect, growing more and more similar. As one moves northward in NZ it gorws more and more similar to the Australian, but not the nasal drawl that is caricatured so often. that is, thankfully, disappearing, whilst the Kiwi is (also thankfully) losing its inability to pronounce vowels

Princhester
07-18-2003, 12:01 AM
Originally posted by everton
Well the rising terminal intonation and "feesh and cheeps" are two things Brummie and Strine have in common...

Well, not really. The rising inflection thing in Brummie is institutional.

The sometimes rising inflection you may associate with Australians is because of the UK's strange addiction to Neighbours* : it is a characteristic of teenage girls of a particular demographic.

For the benefit of 'Mericans who don't know what Neighbours is (you lucky, lucky people) it is an appalling Australian soap opera featuring mostly younger people. It made Kylie Minogue's name (dammit). And it stopped showing on Aussie telly long before they kept making it for the UK market.

Saying Australians use a rising inflection is like saying a Californian accent is a Valley girl accent.

Originally posted by everton
BTW, none of the Aussies have pointed out that there is more than one Australian accent. I wouldn't know where to begin trying to tell a Queenslander from a person from Adelaide, but I bet they can.

Largely disagree. There is as I stated above a difference along socio/regional/educational lines. A person who has a very strong strine accent is probably not a wealthy tertiary educated citydwelling professional. It would be rare to come across a stockman from outback Queensland who did not speak strine. But there are a million and one exceptions.

But as to regional accents, you'd lose your bet. I notice something different about Adelaide and Perth accents, when I'm there. People just sound slightly odd, but it's so subtle that if you asked me to say what the difference is, I couldn't. And if I just met a Perth person amongst a crowd of Brisbane people, I wouldn't notice.

There are people who say they can tell East Coast (Brisbane/Melbourne/Sydney) accents apart but I'm sceptical. Firstly, I think really there is at most only a slight difference in idiom and attitude (if that) and secondly, I only ever hear people say they can pick the difference after they know the person is from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane.

antechinus
07-18-2003, 01:29 AM
Many people from Adelaide and Perth say the O sound in 'no', 'toe', 'slow' etc as 'oy'. This gives noy, toy and sloy. It is not as pronounced as this written description might suggest, though it is noticible.

The differences in accents over here are not as obvious as those that exist within the UK or US, which is understandable considering we have not been here that long.

I agree with Princhester - I am also sceptical that one could distinguish between a Sydney/Melb/Bris accent.

Jervoise
07-18-2003, 04:07 AM
I'm pretty doubtful that there are distinct regional Australian accents. Travelling east, I notice small differences in the use of idiom but I've never picked up a difference in accent (rural dwellers aside). People may claim South Australians or Queenslanders or Western Australians sound different, but they usually base that shaky conclusion on a few isolated anecdotes.

I'd be extremely surprised if someone could identify the state of origin of a random sample of Australian speakers based solely on their accents. It's usually the ex post facto, "Ah, I thought you were from Perth" -- i.e., complete bullshit.

Princhester: Neighbours is still showing on tellie. Tonight, 6:30pm on Ten. ;)

Princhester
07-18-2003, 07:16 AM
Ahh, you're right, Narrad what I should have said is that Neighbours would have gone out of production long ago had it to rely upon Australian ratings, but because the poms love it so much, it keeps getting made.

Shrinking Violet
07-18-2003, 07:34 AM
And talking of Aussie soaps, re the rising inflection:

I have been known to watch the occasional ;) Aussie soap, and have noticed a vast difference accent-wise between soaps of the 70s and 80s (The Sullivans, Sons and Daughters, A Country Practice, The Young Doctors .... the accent which reminds me of my native Suffolk) and soaps of the 90s and 00s (Neighbours, Home and Away, etc .... the "rising inflection" accent) . This rising inflection, so I have read, started in Melbourne among the "teenage girls of a particular demographic" as Princhester says, but has since become more widespread. I particularly notice it being used by people of all ages in DIY progs on Discovery H&L channel.

Yeah, ok, I watch a lotta telly* ..... :D :D :D

Julie

*( Narrad, do Aussies really spell it "tellie"??)

TheLoadedDog
07-18-2003, 08:40 AM
There are regional differences in the Australian accent, but they are usually very, very slight, and even then only seem apparent in some people. Rarely, it is indeed possible to correctly guess where a person is from without prior knowledge.

For most places, it's impossible to tell. Sydney and Brisbane accents, for example, seem identical to me.

Some Melburnians mix 'a' and 'e' in certain words. These people will say they come from Malbourne, and buy record elbums. Darryl Somers (washed up Aussie TV personality) does this very markedly.

Adelaide folks (not sure about the rest of South Australia) often have trouble pronouncing a terminal 'L'. I remember one TV reporter who had a strong version of this accent saying, "There was a fatoow accident in the Adelaide Hiws last night.." Oh yes, and they come from South Austraya.

Country people generally speak more slowly that their urban cousins, but I don't think this is a uniquely Australian phenomenon.

Generally, however, the posters in this thread who have said there are no regional differences are correct. They are there, but you really have to listen out for them.

07-18-2003, 09:03 AM
If it ends in 'ey', then you're from Queensland, ey?

TheLoadedDog
07-18-2003, 09:29 AM
Was gonna mention that one meself, ey?

...not really an accent thing, but it is a dead giveaway yer a canetoad.

Princhester
07-18-2003, 07:20 PM
I would have said it was a dead giveaway that you're a kiwi, actually, eh?

Xenomorph
07-18-2003, 08:42 PM
Just to chisel in wiff the South African accent thing (being on the ground here), there are actually quite a few different accents here. Their tend to be the Afrikaners "Sarf Efrican" and "Ag ja well no fine" as well as the more English bunch (the vaguely British/Australian) sound. Of course there are also the Zulu/Xhosa/Coloured accents which are totally different as well.

Accents here tend to be divided by race/culure instead of geographical location. English speakers from Cape Town and Pretoria would sound similar to each other and totally different form Afrikaners from Pretoria/CT, who again would sound similar to each other.

The funny thing is, I went up to Pretoria recently and the people there all thought I was a foreigner, which I thought was pretty damn funny :)

mhendo
07-18-2003, 10:33 PM
Test subject checking in here: Aussie living in the US.

I've been here for three years now, and i've lost count of how many times i've been asked "which part of England" i'm from.

We should be fair to our American friends, however. I mean, we might be able to pick an "American" accent, but how many Aussies or Brits could pick the differences between a mid-western accent, a North Carolina accent, a Louisiana accent, a Brooklyn accent, a Baltimore accent, a Texas accent, etc., etc. These accents are no more or less different than the difference between Aussie and the various Brit accents. And the American accents i listed account for only a small fraction of those you hear in this country.

Americans are far from the only ones who have trouble. When i lived in England, i knew Londoners who couldn't tell the difference between a Yorkshire and a Lancashire accent, despite the fact that, to someone like me who was living in Yorkshire, the two sounded distinctly different.

I agree with those Australians who have said that Australian accents are not as strongly regional as American and British ones. The main regional differentiations are rural/urban; apart from that, educational and socio-economic criteria are more important in determining the "harshness" of the accent.

There are, however, some rather distinctive "ethnic" Australian accents. For example, first generation Greek Australians have a distinctive accent that is very Australian, yet shows a strong influence from their Greek immigrant parents. Similarly, first generation Vietnamese Australians have their own particular brand of Aussie accent.

Trigonal Planar
07-19-2003, 01:41 AM
I'm Canadian and I can easily detect the difference between an Australian vs. English accent. Regional differences are no problem either.

And as for American accents, I have been to Ohio and lemme tell you - that's just across the border and there is a very distinct accent. In some cases, it was downright hard to figure out what they were saying!

Eg. "Meal Deal" become "Miiildeew". Not very appetizing :)

MysteryFellow63427
07-19-2003, 12:36 PM
Thanks for the responses everybody.

Even though ahm an uhmerrican, I can tell some accents apart - e.g. cockney vs. Aussie, but not necessarily all others. I think I'll go with the other poster who said they thought Birmingham was toughest to distinguish from an Aussie accent. ;)
Also, the guy I mentioned in the OP had been going to school in Texas for a few years, so who knows if his accent had been bastardized.

Road Rash
07-19-2003, 03:10 PM
When I visited the U.K. back in the 80's, I was surprised at the diversity of dialects. It was as if they were proud of their accents and hung on to them. The first night I went to this quiet little pub where the bartender spoke like a british hick, "oi've got an idear...," sounding like the "flying sheep" sketch from Monty Python. Later I went drinking with a computer programmer with a real gutter sounding dielect. Cockney sounding, but with a bit of a slurring sound.

Took a little practice to understand the folk in Edinbourgh. Just like watching Benny Hill. It took a few episodes to pick up everything he was saying, although his non-dialog physical comedy was always superior to his spoken word. Terry Thomas comes to mind as having a very distinctive accents.

A couple of weeks ago, I sparked a conversation with a cute lady at the YMCA before an exercise class. I guessed her dialect to be northern England. I likely lost some points, she was from Melbourne.

My thought is that the bulk of british immigrants to Australia came from certain regions, and that their accent most resembles those regions.

So a related question for British dopers would be, what British accent sounds most like the Australians?

IMHO, the most "American" sounding english outside the U.S. and Canada comes from Dublin. Although I have been told that is only because they talk slower when they are drunk.

Agback
07-19-2003, 05:49 PM
Originally posted by mhendo
Test subject checking in here: Aussie living in the US.

I've been here for three years now, and i've lost count of how many times i've been asked "which part of England" i'm from.

Well, I'm in Australia and I have lived here all my life. And hundreds of my fellow-countrymen have asked what part of England or what part of the USA I come from. Dozens have even told me which part of one of those countries I come from. Others have told me that I come from South Africa, or Canada.

Conclusion: even Australians cannot pick an Australian accent.

Regards,


Agback

mhendo
07-19-2003, 06:34 PM
Originally posted by Agback
Well, I'm in Australia and I have lived here all my life. And hundreds of my fellow-countrymen have asked what part of England or what part of the USA I come from. Dozens have even told me which part of one of those countries I come from. Others have told me that I come from South Africa, or Canada.

Conclusion: even Australians cannot pick an Australian accent.

Regards,


Agback Now that is truly bizzarre!

kambuckta
07-19-2003, 07:40 PM
Another possible reason for being unable to discern differences is the remarkable ability of the American accent to annihilate others. Few Australians (or Brits) would maintain a strong accent of their own after residing in the US for any period of time. It seems then little wonder that Merkins (especially those who have not travelled to Oz or Britain) find it difficult to distinguish between them because the accents that they do hear are a hybridized English/Yank or Aus/Yank, and bear little resemblence to the accents that would be heard in our homelands.

And on preview Agback, I have had the same question asked of me too many times to count. I put it down to my culcherd upbringing (and the fact that the people asking me have never heard me swear and scream like a fishwife). :D

MonkeyMensch
07-20-2003, 01:37 AM
Re the OP: There's a difference?;)

I was blessed to live in a small town here in the states that had a disproportionate number of Aussies, Kiwis, and South Efricans. You get used to hearing them after a while, dontcha know.

One day a couple of Yorkshiremen rolled into town. There was no doubt they were English.

Johnny L.A.
07-20-2003, 09:21 AM
I'm a Californian, and I can tell the difference between an English, Australian and Kiwi accents.

But I once had trouble understanding an American Southern accent when I was a teen. Someone wanted to know where to find the "all". Took me a bit to realize he was looking for oil.

I'm planning to visit a friend in Tennessee. She thought it was a good idea, but she said people wouldn't be able to understand me. (I got this image of me going up to an old dude and saying, "Yo, dog. 'Sup?" Not that I say "Yo, dog.")

Doobieous
07-20-2003, 09:22 AM
Originally posted by kambuckta
Another possible reason for being unable to discern differences is the remarkable ability of the American accent to annihilate others. Few Australians (or Brits) would maintain a strong accent of their own after residing in the US for any period of time.

I simply think it's just lack of experience.

Anyway, i know this fellow who was originally from South Africa, but lived here for many many years, and unless he was trying hard to sound "American" (which he could do well), his accent plunged into South African and he was pretty much unintelligible, particularly when drunk. I remember spending 40 minutes with him trying to understand what was probably a 20 minute conversation.

jjimm
07-20-2003, 09:29 AM
It's quite simple really.

Aussie:
G'die mite, thraw anatha shrimp on the baahbie, ya nong.

Pommie:
Hello old chap, do please put another prawn on the barbecue, there's a good fellow.

The Chao Goes Mu
07-21-2003, 09:53 AM
And as for American accents, I have been to Ohio and lemme tell you - that's just across the border and there is a very distinct accent. In some cases, it was downright hard to figure out what they were saying!

I live in NW Ohio (not sure what part of Ohio you visited) but I haven't heard "Meal Deal" become "Miiiiildeew".............yet.
Can't say that I am surprised at your auditory nightmare. I live in a metropolitan area, thus most people here in the city are very nasal. "Washington" becomes "Waaahsheeengton". But then others say "Waushington" (like myself) It's funny too, because if you drive just one little mile outside of the city, the rural folk have a slight drawl and you get "Warshington" Must be all that corn.
;)

Anyway, it seems sometimes (any other Ohio dopers care to comment on this?) that in NW Ohio, there are several accents. In a room of twenty NW Ohio natives, you may here about 15 variations on the language.

gerikel
07-21-2003, 10:15 AM
what about the south africans. dont' they have that similar 'british' accent when they speak ? is this in anyway related to the fact that they were a british colony or something?

everton
07-21-2003, 10:33 AM
Originally posted by gerikel
what about the south africans. dont' they have that similar 'british' accent when they speak ? is this in anyway related to the fact that they were a british colony or something?
Read the thread gerikel.

Shrinking Violet
07-21-2003, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by jjimm


Pommie:
Hello old chap, do please put another prawn on the barbecue, there's a good fellow.

Real Pommie:

Wotcha mate, sling anuvver snorker* (fish is fer wimps) on the BBQ, will yer, yer tosser?

Julie :)

* = sausage

MelCthefirst
07-21-2003, 05:36 PM
I remember staying with friends in Sacramento and trying, by phone, to find a bus to San Francisco airport because my friends couldn't take me. I finally discovered that Greyhound was the only one that could do this, but was having difficulty understanding the man on the phone. I eventually worked out the times and cost but enquired where to buy the ticket. The man replied 'at the main bus station'. When I asked where it was he said: "Maam, it's on 5th and Ayale street", so I asked him to spell "Ayale". There was a long pause, then he replied, really slowly, "Maam, that's capital Ayale (L)", he must have thought I was really dumb.
Then there was the time when my Aussie friend went to Scotland. They got to some castle, went into the little shop and she asked if they had the morning papers. The woman in the shop replied that they didn't play in the morning, but if she wanted to hear them, she could every afternoon at 4pm!

TheLoadedDog
07-21-2003, 05:57 PM
Originally posted by Shrinking Violet
Real Pommie:

Wotcha mate, sling anuvver snorker* (fish is fer wimps) on the BBQ, will yer, yer tosser?

Julie :)

* = sausage

Heh :D

And we don't have shrimps in Australia. Strangely enough, we call 'em prawns too. The shrimp thing was for the US audience. And I've NEVER put a prawn on a bbq. Gotta be red meat! So it'd be like this:

Hey Daaave! Chuck some more snags on the barbie...bloody hell... in the esk.... no, the big esky ya galah... Yes, under the VB. And chuck us one of those while yer at it. Geez yer a c**t of a barman... Ha..f**k.. just chuck it, don't peg the f**kin' thing... now it's gonna f**kin' fizz everywhere. And where didja bung the smokes?

...but I guess that wouldn't have made the ads very appealing to the Yanks. :D

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