Essay: English language and Australian English

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Table of contents

Introduction””””””””””””””””””””3

Sub question 1: ”””””””””””””””””””.4
Where did the English language come from?
– What are the origins of the English language’? Old English
‘ Middle English
‘ Early Modern English
‘ Modern English
Sub question 2: ”””””””””””””””””””.8
Where did the Australian English language come from?
– History of the Australian English language
– How is Australian English pronunciation different from the English pronunciation?
– How is Australian English pronunciation similar to the English pronunciation?
Sub question 3: ””””””””””””””””””’11
Where did British slang come from?
– What were the origins of British slang?
– What is Cockney Rhyming slang?
– What is the Welsh language?
– What influence did the battle of Hastings have on the British language?
Sub question 4: ””””””””””””””””””’14
Where did the Australian Slang come from?
– What were the influences of the Aboriginal languages?
– What were the influences of the Convicts?
– Slang examples

The key question: .””””””””””””””””””15
Is the difference between British Slang and Australian Slang really as big as we think?
Introduction
This year we got the assignment to write a thesis about a subject of your choice. We choose the subject English and decided to do a research about Australian slang and British slang. The reason we picked this particular subject is because we both are very interested in the English language.
The reason we decided to write a thesis about Australian slang and British slang is because Anouk’s mother was born in Australia and lived there for a while and could tell us a lot about the slang they use in Australia, besides we would like to learn a lot more about the Australian (and English) language and culture and this assignment is a great opportunity to learn more about their language and culture both academically as socially.
Sub question 1 Where did the English language come from?

What are the origins of the English language?
The English language is actually a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects. It really started when the three Germanic tribes arrived, who invaded Britain during the fifth century and we call this the Old English period (450 ‘ 1100AD). The tribes who invaded Britain were the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. They crossed the North Sea from what we now call Denmark en northern Germany. The language that the inhabitants of Britain spoke at that time was a Celtic language.
The Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes mixed their Germanic dialects and used a vocabulary which was completely different from other European languages of the same period. For example the word ”English” was in Old English ”Englisc” and comes from the Angles’ name. The Angles were named from their land of origin; Engle. What we now call Old English arised out of the many languages and dialects of the invaded tribes.
Most of the people who spoke a Celtic language were pushed west and north by the Germanic tribes in the direction of what we now call Wales, Scotland and Ireland. One Group migrated to the Brittany Coast of France where you can still find people who speak the Celtic language of Breton today. The Latin language also remained in Wales, Scotland and Ireland and was later reintroduced to England by missionaries from Celtic and Roman churches.
The influence of the Celtic language upon Old English was barely noticeable. In fact, very few Celtic words remained in the English Modern language. But many of place and river names have Celtic origins, for example: Dover, Cumberland, Thames, Trent, Severn. The most famous work in Celtic language is a poem written by an unknown Anglo-Saxon poet and the poem is called Beowulf. It’s considered as the oldest surviving long poem from the Old English period, most English speakers nowadays can barely figure out what it says.
In the 10th and 11th century, the North Germanic language Old Norse had a big influence on Old English. Old Norse was spoken by the Norsemen who invaded the North East of England and settled themselves there. Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons spoke almost the same language but from different departments of the Germanic language. Even though their vocabulary was almost the same, their grammars were much An example of Old English more different.
A Group of people who also had a big influence on the English language and culture were the Vikings. They interacted a lot with the ordinary people and the Christianization of the Danes encouraged this contact even more. The English language borrowed about two thousand words from the Old Norse for example: bag, hit, law, same, sky and more.
Old English was spoken until sometime in the twelfth or thirteenth century.
The Norman Conquest began in 1066 with the invasion and occupation of the United Kingdom by an army of Norman, Breton, Flemish and French soldiers under the instructions of William the Conqueror; duke of Normandy and later William I of England. This was also the event which began the transition from Old English to Middle English. From his home base in northern France William the Conqueror invaded the British Island and settled himself there with his nobles and court. William destroyed the opposition with a brutal hand and robbed the Anglo-Saxon earls of their property, sharing it to the ones that supported him (mainly the Normans).
One of the most obvious consequences of the conquest was the introduction of the Anglo-Norman language, a north western dialect of the Old French language, as language of the most important classes of population. Old-English disappeared as the language of the most powerful people. French words intensively intruded the English language. Middle English became a mixture of Roman and Germanic languages. The Old French language would be the court language for centuries to follow. Not until 1363 there was a parliamentary meeting in the language that the ordinary people spoke.
Another sign of power shift was the use of the Frankish names instead of Anglo-Saxon names. Male names like William became normal fast, but female names changed a bit more slowly. The Normandic invasion didn’t have a lot of influence on place names, even though they had been changed a lot under influence of Scandinavian invasions two centuries before. During the Middle English period the English language changed dramatically both in grammar and vocabulary.
Whether the Norman intruders knew a lot about the English language or not, the requiries of the trading market must have had influence on the Norman people to speak a little English and be bilingual. Nevertheless it is known that Willem the Conqueror never had practical knowledge about the English language and couldn’t speak proper English for a long time.
The Early Modern English period is the stage of the English language used from the change from Middle English in the late 15th century to the change to Modern English during the mid- to late 17th century. In the Early Modern English period there were extensive sound changes in the English language, the English spelling though remained rather constant. The English language was further transformed by dialects, mainly of a standardised London-based dialect in government and administration and the effect of printing. The English language became clearly recognisable as Modern English by the time of William Shakespeare.
In the late 15th century there was a major change in the pronunciation of the English language called the Great Vowel Shift, this century was also the beginning of the Modern English period. Otto Jespersen was the first who studied the Great Vowel Shift, he was a Danish linguist and Anglicist and he coined the term Great Vowel Shift.
The Great Vowel Shift took place in England between 1350 and 1700. Due to the Great Vowel Shift all Middle English long vowels changed their pronunciation. In the 15th and 16th centuries the English language was becoming more standardized and the Great Vowel Shift has a big responsibility for many of the peculiarities of English spelling.
As said before, the biggest difference between the pronunciation of Middle English and Modern English is in the pronunciation of the long vowels. The pronunciation of the long vowels in Middle English had ”continental” values much like those in Italian and Standard German, but in standard Modern English they have entirely different pronunciations. Examples in the vowel pronunciation before the Great Vowel Shift and after the Great Vowel Shift can be illustrated from the three vowel sounds in words like mite, meet and mate. Before the Great Vowel Shift the pronunciation of mite, meet and mate were /i:/, /e:/ and /a??/, after the Great Vowel Shift in the Modern English period mite, meet and mate were /a??:/, /i:/, /e??/. For example: long e in meet was pronounced as /e??/, so Middle English meet sounded similar to Modern English mate /meet/; long a in mate was pronounced as /a??/, with a vowel like Modern English ah in father /f”??r/.
Another change in pronunciation known as the Great Vowel Shift were the change in the vowels /i: u:/, these became diphthongs. Diphthongs are types of vowels where two vowel sounds are connected in a gliding motion. Because of this gliding motion Diphthongs are often called Gliding Vowels. For example: ai in the words hide, my, like or life, au in the words mountain, amount and cow or ou in the words motion and own.
Not only affected the Great Vowel Shift the Standard English language but also other dialects in southern England and Northern England but in a different way. The long back vowels stayed unaffected in Northern English because the long front vowels had undergone an earlier shift. In Scotland was a different vowel system in the Scots language before the Great Vowel Shift, the long vowels [i:], [e:] and [a:] shifted to [ei:], [o:] shifted to [‘?] in Early Scots and [u:] remained unaffected.
Printing press was in the 1470s introduced to England by William Caxton and later Richard Pynson. The use and the adoption of the printing press speeded up the process of standardization of the English spelling.
The reason why the Great Vowel Shift took place are still highly debated, even though there were some important factors, like the large intake of loanwords from the Latin and Romanic or Neo-Latin languages of Europe during this time which had a completely different kind of pronunciation, which could have been important in the reason why the Great Vowel Shift happened.
Since the Great Vowel Shift, which began in the late 15th century and was completed in 1550, Modern English is spoken in England. Many texts from the early 17th century were considered to be in Modern English though with some differences in vocabulary. The works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible were some of the texts which were considered Modern English. Also English became a language in many regions around the world, such as the Indian subcontinent, North America, Australia, Africa and New Zealand through colonisation by the British Empire.
There are many dialects spoken in the Modern English language in diverse countries around the world including American English, Canadian English, Singaporean English, New Zealand English and many other countries it also includes Australian English and British English which our thesis is about.
There were many influences on Early Modern English which caused the transition to Modern English. Because of the lack of uniformity in spelling of Early Modern English a dictionary was published in England in 1755. The dictionary was influential in establishing a standard form of spelling and was written by Samuel Johnson. Another Dictionary was published for the United States in 1828 by Noah Webster. Also more people had access to get books in public libraries in the 19th century and many words from other languages entered the English language as a result of contacts with other countries. In World War 1 and World War 2 many people with different backgrounds, cultures and languages were thrown together which also helped to lessen the differences in dialects and accents. In the early 20th century the popularity of radio broadcasting increased and familiarised the population with vocabulary and accents which the people were not familiar with in their own localities, this phenomenon continued with television and film.
So the English language originally was a West-Germanic language but throughout the time it developed many times and is now one of the most spoken languages all over the world.

Sub question 2 Where did the Australian English language come from?

Australian English is a big variety of the English language and is used in Australia; even though English is not the official language in the country most of the population use Australian English as their first language. In 1788, after the establishment of the colony of New South Wales, Australian English began to differ from British English and it was recognised as being different from British English in 1820. It originated from the intermix of former settlers from a great diversity of commonly intelligible dialectal regions of the British Isles and rapidly evolved into a distinct variety of English. Australian English is different from other varieties of English in accent, pronunciation, register, grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
History of the Australian English language
The first and earliest form of Australian English was originally spoken by the children of the settlers born into the colony of New South Wales. A new dialect was created by the first generation of children and was to become the language of the nation. The newborn Australian children in the colony were exposed to a large range of dialects throughout the British Isles, in precise from Ireland and South East England. The foreign-born children of the colony established the new dialect from the speeches they heard around them, and with it represented peer solidarity. Even though new settlers were arriving, this new dialect was bold enough to blunt other patterns of speech.
Many of the convicts were arrested in Ireland and some of them in Great Britain and in Australia a quarter of the convicts were Irish. Many of the Irish convicts spoke no English at all or spoke it rarely and very poorly. From non-English speaking parts of Britain were many other significant populations of convicts such as the Scottish Highlands and Wales. From the early 19th century, records show the dissimilar dialect that had appeared in the colonies since the first settlement in 1788, with the book Two Years in New South Wales written by Peter Miller Cunningham in 1827, describing the peculiar vocabulary and accent of the native-born colonists, different form their parents and with a strong influence of London. Anthony Burgess who was an English writer and composer once said that ”Australian English may be thought of as a kind of fossilised Cockney of the Dickensian era”.
The Australian Gold Rushes were phases of important migrations of locally and overseas workers to regions which had discoveries of gold accumulations. A large wave of immigration began in the 1850s whereby about two per cent of the community of the United Kingdom migrated to colonies of New South Wales and Victoria. According to Bruce Moore, a specialist in language, was the extensive input of the various accents that went into establishing the Australian accent from south-east England.
Australian English adopted some aspects of Aboriginal languages, primarily as names for flora and fauna, locations and local culture. Many of these words are localised and are not a part of general Australian use however words such as boomerang, wallaby, kangaroo, budgerigar and many others became international used words. Another example is hard yakka which means hard work. It originally was a word from the Jagera/Yagara language formerly spoken in Brisbane. Jagera is an extinct language of Australia. The word bung is also from origin an Aboriginal word which means ”dead” and sometimes with an extension to ”broken” or ”useless”. Also many towns or suburbs in Australia are named after Aboriginal words or influenced by Aboriginal words. Probably the best known example is the name of the capital of Australia, Canberra, it is named after a local language and means ”meeting place”.
In the midst of the starting changes in the 19th century was the introduction of spellings, words, terms and usages from North American English. There were some imported words which were later considered to be typically Australian words for example bushwhacker and squatter. The influence of the American language continued with the growing popularity of American films and the inflow of American military staff in World War II.
How is Australian English pronunciation different from the English pronunciation?
The main way in which Australian English differs from the Standard English language and other varieties of English is because of the unique way of pronunciation. It is similar with Southern Hemisphere accents and to in particular New Zealand English. Like most of the English dialects it is distinguished by its vowel phonology.
The Australian English vowels can be separated according to length. The long vowels consist of monophthong and diphthongs and the short vowels only consist of only monophthongs. Monophthongs are pure vowel sounds, their articulation at both the beginning and end are relatively fixed, they do not glide up or down towards new positions of articulation. In Australian English are also pairs of long and short vowels with overlapping vowel quality which give the language phonemic length distinction which is rather unusual among various dialects of English but not unknown elsewhere like in regional South-Eastern dialects of the United Kingdom and Eastern Seaboard dialects in the United States. Another big difference between British English and Australian English is the fact that many of the Australian words have sounds that are eliminated. For example, when you say ”good day”, the Australian speaker says ”G’day”. Also we must keep in mind that Australian accents differ from region to region which is like in England for example the population in Queensland often have a very strong nasal accent but people from Victoria, Canberra, New South Wales and Tasmania do not have this strong nasal accent but a slightly less strong variant. Also the Australian accent makes their sentences sound like questions.
How is Australian English pronunciation similar to the English pronunciation?
They both pronounce the ‘r’ at the end of a word silently and many words are often the same however American English differs from both. For example in America we visit the ”fitness center”, in Australia and the United Kingdom we visit the ”fitness centre”. Also the word order of a sentence is the same, as is the arrangement of a sentence. Also Australian English is quite similar to Cockney because of its rhyming slang.
There are many people, many from the United States, whom do not hear the difference between an Australian accent and a British accent which is of course a similarity however if you listen closely you can hear the Australian use slang words in their conversations. The main reason why they don’t hear a difference is because they speak in quite a similar tone and some of the regional dialects of Australian sound like regional dialects of British English.

Sub question 3 Where did British slang come from?

The first thing you need to know to understand what this thesis is about, is the definition of slang; slang is the use of informal words of expressions. Or like the dictionary states: “Vocabulary, idiom etc that is not appropriate to the standard form of a language or to formal contexts, may be restricted as to social status or distribution, and is characteristically more metaphorical and transitory than standard language” Slang is used by all types of people and social groups, but mostly used by young people.
What were the origins of British slang?
It’s difficult to say when slang started to become a thing, because it usually wasn’t written down or recorded. The British slang already existed for a long time before it had been written down the first time. The first books containing slang appeared around the 16th century. Examples of writers are Robert Copland and Thomas Harman.
The first plays containing slang also occurred around that time. They were plays of Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton and of course the famous William Shakespeare.
Some words that originally started out as slang became mainstream, and in 1698 the New Dictionary of the Canting Crew was published, containing some ‘civilian’ slang words and/or terms throughout the dictionary.
In 1785 Captain Francis Grose even started a new dictionary, exclusively made for slang words. The name of the dictionary was “The Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue”, which ran to more than five expanded editions.
After that more dictionaries started to follow and slang dictionaries almost became a regular thing. Around 1950 slang regularly started appearing in books and television.
What is Cockney Rhyming Slang?
The best known slang is probably Cockney Rhyming slang. Cockney Rhyming slang can be easily explained as taking an expression which rhymes with a word and then using that expression instead of the word.
Nobody knows why the Cockney slang started in the first place. Some people suspect it was to keep the outsiders outside, meaning that Cockneys sometimes wanted to speak to each other without other people understanding what they were saying. Other people just think that the Cockney slang started out on accident or as a joke.
Cockney Rhyming slang was used by Cockneys and other Londoners from the working class, but later some Cockney phrases started to become popular in other areas too. Some aspects of the Cockney language are heard in Cockneys and the Cockney accent were looked down upon, the London County Council even stated that “the Cockney mode of speech, with its unpleasant twang, is a modern corruption without legitimate credentials, and is unworthy of being the speech of any person in the capital city of the Empire”.
But there was a group of people who defended the Cockney language, saying that “The London dialect is really, especially on the South side of the Thames, a perfectly legitimate and responsible child of the old Kentish tongue”. Ever since people started to accept the Cockney accent and the Cockney language, and they didn’t think the accent was inferior to their accent and/or language any more.
Now you’ve read all these things about the Cockney language and accent, but it hasn’t been explained what a Cockney actually is. Well, the definition of a Cockney is easy; people with a Cockney accent or a Cockney heritage are usually seen as Cockneys, but the real Cockneys are the people who are born within the sound of the bells of the St. Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, London.
Some people say that the origin of the word Cockney started out during the 1700s, country folks would tell a story about people they called Cockaignes. Saying that the Cockaignes believed that the streets of London were paved with gold and that the houses were made of cake! As a result, anyone that moved from country to live in London began to be called Cockaignes. The name became corrupted into Cockneys.
What is the Welsh language?
The Welsh language emerged in the 6th century from Common Brittonic, the common ancestor of Welsh, Breton, Cornish and the extinct language Cumbric combined. Welsh originated in Wales, England.
The history of the Welsh language can be divided in four periods:
‘ Primitive Welsh
‘ Old Welsh
‘ Middle Welsh
‘ Modern Welsh
The period known as Primitive Welsh (6th century) is the period iright after Welsh emerged from Brittonic. A synonym for Primitive Welsh is Archaic Welsh.
The period known as Old Welsh started at about 800 AD and evolved into Middle Welsh around the 12th century. A lot of poems and a couple of prose have been written in the Old Welsh language. The oldest surviving text entirely in Old Welsh is believed to be the writing on a gravestone, now in Tywyn church, thought to date from the 7th century.
The period known as Middle Welsh started in the 12th century and evolved to Modern Welsh in the 15th century. The accent of Middle Welsh is quite similar to that of modern Welsh, with only a few differences. The letter u, which today represents /??/ in North Welsh dialects and /i/ in South Welsh dialects, represented the close central rounded vowel /??/ in Middle Welsh.
The period known as Middle Welsh started in the 15th century and it is the current period. It is spoken mostly in Wales, but a minority in the UK and Argentina also speaks it.

The following table contains some examples of the evolving of the Welsh language, from Old Welsh to Middle Welsh:
Old Welsh Modern Welsh English
tir tir land
lau llaw hand
diued diwedd end
ir yr, y the
nouid newydd new
guetig wedi after
cas cas hatred
hit hyd until
did dydd day
braut brawd judgement
in ois oisou yn oes oesoedd for ever and ever

What influence did the battle of Hastings have on the British language?
The Battle of Hastings was fought on October 14th 1066 between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold II, starting the Norman conquest of England. It took place at about 11 km northwest of Hastings. It took a long while, but in the end, Duke William II of Normandy won.
William was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey in 1066. It took 6 years for him to build up his conquest of England, and faced constant challenges both there and in Normandy. One of his first actions as king was to build an abbey on the site of the Battle of Hastings in the modern-day town of Battle, England. The high altar of the abbey was built on the site where Harold was killed.
The Normans started moving to England and made England their home. The Normans settled in quite easily, and they even married the natives. To understand each other, the Normans and English had to know the same language. As they spoke, a new language started to emerge. It was a blend of the Germanic Old English and Norman ‘Old French.’
Old English words hardly had more than two syllables and they were rough and to the point. Norman words were much more elegant and less harsh. Today, we call the blend of the two languages Middle English.
The Battle of Hastings effectively ended the rule of the Anglo-Saxon rule. Norman nobles and lords were established in the country.

The English language also got much bigger in the years after the Battle of Hastings. Thousands of French words were added to the English language, making it one of the largest vocabularies of any language people speak.
Sub question 4 Where did the Australian Slang come from?
What were the influences of the Aboriginal languages?
Probably one of the most important influences on Australian English has been the Aboriginal languages. Many Aboriginal words have been adopted within Australian English, for example ‘boomerang’ and ‘kangaroo’ which are two of the words you immediately think of when we talk about Australia.
Under the Australian Aborigines were at least 600 dialects when the first fleet arrived in 1788. Within Australia there are many Australian Aboriginal languages, they exist up to twenty-seven language families and are all native to the Australian Aborigines of Australia and some islands excluding the Tasmanian languages and the eastern Torres Strait Island languages. Tasmania was separated from Australia and not much of the Tasmanian languages were preserved and much was lost before it was recorded. Also the Tasmanian Aboriginal people remained isolated from Australia, and the outside world, for about 10,000 years. Little is known about their languages and so there’s no classification for them, however it seems they have had phonological similarities with languages of Australia. The comparisons between these languages are not clear at this time, although there has been significant progress in recent decades.
The comparisons between the Tasmanian languages, the eastern Torres Strait Island languages and the Australian Aboriginal languages are not clear at this time, although there has been significant progress in recent decades.
In the beginning of the 21st century less than 150 aboriginal languages remained in daily use and about twenty aboriginal languages are extremely endangered. Only 10% of the languages which do survive are being learned by children and in addition to that these languages are mostly used, and located, in the most isolated areas.
Right now the most used language of Australia is English, other spoken languages are native languages such as the Aboriginal languages but as seen before, many of these languages are not spoken anymore.
What were the influences of the Convicts?
In between 1788 and 1868 about 162,000 convicts were transported to several Australian penal colonies by the British government. In the 16th century the British government began to transport the criminals to overseas colonies however the American colonies declined with the move towards American independence and the government needed to find alternative sites to stop further overcrowding of British prisons.
In 1770 mister James Cook charted and claimed possession of Australia’s east coast for Britain. Because of the isolation of the continent Australia was considered ideal for a penal colony and in 1787 the first convict ships set sail for Botany Bay. They arrived in 1788 to found Sydney and it was the first European settlement in Australia. Later other penal colonies were chartered in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. In 1868 the last convict ship arrived in Western Australia.
After the prison time of the convicts most stayed in Australia and joined other settlers, some even rose to prominent positions in the Australian society. About 20% of the modern Australians are descendants from transported convicts. Because of the spreading of convicts with different backgrounds, languages and accents it is possible they caused changes in the English language in Australia and had their own slang. Also some of the convicts escaped into the bushes and were left behind with the Aboriginal people, the Aboriginals also had their own slang and with the influence of convicts this could be another reason why the convicts had an influence on the Australian language and slang.
Most of the convict slang had to do with the convict system. Many of their specific terms disappeared however there are still some words which are used in Australian slang, such as ‘magpies’ and ‘canaries’ which described the black and yellow, or complete yellow uniforms which the convicts worn. ”Canary Birds”, by Phillipe de Vigors Ink and watercolour, 1849
Slang examples
Here are some examples of Australian slang words and what they mean in British English. A good lurk means a good job, Australian people are called Aussies and an idiot is called a dill or a drongo. BBC once made an article about ”Your favourite Australian Slang examples” which contained a lot of funny phrases like He played a Barry which means he did shockingly badly, Barry refers to Barry Crocker and rhymes with shocker. Barry once sang the theme tune for an Australian soap called Neighbours. Another comical example is Like a mad woman’s breakfast which means all over the place or messy. Another less-friendly example is May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny door down and that is a way of wishing someone bad luck.
There are also a few ‘regular’ slang words which are used more often and are good to know when you visit Australia. For example when Australians say Cya this arvo in class they mean see you this afternoon, when they’re talking about an earbashing they’re talking about a constant chatter however if they tell you that you are spiffy then you are great looking. In Australia many people walk on thongs, which are flip flops and when they need to go to the dunnie, they need to go to the toilet. Also Australians very often use an adjective used as an intensive: bloody ”it’s bloody hot in here”. And last but not least when Australians bid you goodbye they will probably say ”hooroo mate”.
The key question
Is the difference between British Slang and Australian Slang really as big as we think?
At first we thought that the differences between Australian slang and British slang would be very big, especially since Australia and the United Kingdom are a long way apart from each other. But when you look into the grammar, they are actually very much alike.
That makes a lot of sense when you think about it, Australia used to be a colony from the British. Their jails were full, so they put a lot of convicts on a boat and sent them to Australia to start a life there.
The convicts kept speaking English to each other, and so did their kids and their grandkids and so on. But the language from the convicts may have been influenced by the native Australians, that is how the slang and accent from the convicts in Australia became more independent from the people in England. However the natives may have influenced the language. However I find it still very hard to hear the difference between Australian English and British English.

Table of contents

Introduction””””””””””””””””””””3

Sub question 1: ”””””””””””””””””””.4
Where did the English language come from?
– What are the origins of the English language’? Old English
‘ Middle English
‘ Early Modern English
‘ Modern English
Sub question 2: ”””””””””””””””””””.8
Where did the Australian English language come from?
– History of the Australian English language
– How is Australian English pronunciation different from the English pronunciation?
– How is Australian English pronunciation similar to the English pronunciation?
Sub question 3: ””””””””””””””””””’11
Where did British slang come from?
– What were the origins of British slang?
– What is Cockney Rhyming slang?
– What is the Welsh language?
– What influence did the battle of Hastings have on the British language?
Sub question 4: ””””””””””””””””””’14
Where did the Australian Slang come from?
– What were the influences of the Aboriginal languages?
– What were the influences of the Convicts?
– Slang examples

The key question: .””””””””””””””””””15
Is the difference between British Slang and Australian Slang really as big as we think?
Introduction
This year we got the assignment to write a thesis about a subject of your choice. We choose the subject English and decided to do a research about Australian slang and British slang. The reason we picked this particular subject is because we both are very interested in the English language.
The reason we decided to write a thesis about Australian slang and British slang is because Anouk’s mother was born in Australia and lived there for a while and could tell us a lot about the slang they use in Australia, besides we would like to learn a lot more about the Australian (and English) language and culture and this assignment is a great opportunity to learn more about their language and culture both academically as socially.
Sub question 1 Where did the English language come from?

What are the origins of the English language?
The English language is actually a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects. It really started when the three Germanic tribes arrived, who invaded Britain during the fifth century and we call this the Old English period (450 ‘ 1100AD). The tribes who invaded Britain were the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. They crossed the North Sea from what we now call Denmark en northern Germany. The language that the inhabitants of Britain spoke at that time was a Celtic language.
The Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes mixed their Germanic dialects and used a vocabulary which was completely different from other European languages of the same period. For example the word ”English” was in Old English ”Englisc” and comes from the Angles’ name. The Angles were named from their land of origin; Engle. What we now call Old English arised out of the many languages and dialects of the invaded tribes.
Most of the people who spoke a Celtic language were pushed west and north by the Germanic tribes in the direction of what we now call Wales, Scotland and Ireland. One Group migrated to the Brittany Coast of France where you can still find people who speak the Celtic language of Breton today. The Latin language also remained in Wales, Scotland and Ireland and was later reintroduced to England by missionaries from Celtic and Roman churches.
The influence of the Celtic language upon Old English was barely noticeable. In fact, very few Celtic words remained in the English Modern language. But many of place and river names have Celtic origins, for example: Dover, Cumberland, Thames, Trent, Severn. The most famous work in Celtic language is a poem written by an unknown Anglo-Saxon poet and the poem is called Beowulf. It’s considered as the oldest surviving long poem from the Old English period, most English speakers nowadays can barely figure out what it says.
In the 10th and 11th century, the North Germanic language Old Norse had a big influence on Old English. Old Norse was spoken by the Norsemen who invaded the North East of England and settled themselves there. Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons spoke almost the same language but from different departments of the Germanic language. Even though their vocabulary was almost the same, their grammars were much An example of Old English more different.
A Group of people who also had a big influence on the English language and culture were the Vikings. They interacted a lot with the ordinary people and the Christianization of the Danes encouraged this contact even more. The English language borrowed about two thousand words from the Old Norse for example: bag, hit, law, same, sky and more.
Old English was spoken until sometime in the twelfth or thirteenth century.
The Norman Conquest began in 1066 with the invasion and occupation of the United Kingdom by an army of Norman, Breton, Flemish and French soldiers under the instructions of William the Conqueror; duke of Normandy and later William I of England. This was also the event which began the transition from Old English to Middle English. From his home base in northern France William the Conqueror invaded the British Island and settled himself there with his nobles and court. William destroyed the opposition with a brutal hand and robbed the Anglo-Saxon earls of their property, sharing it to the ones that supported him (mainly the Normans).
One of the most obvious consequences of the conquest was the introduction of the Anglo-Norman language, a north western dialect of the Old French language, as language of the most important classes of population. Old-English disappeared as the language of the most powerful people. French words intensively intruded the English language. Middle English became a mixture of Roman and Germanic languages. The Old French language would be the court language for centuries to follow. Not until 1363 there was a parliamentary meeting in the language that the ordinary people spoke.
Another sign of power shift was the use of the Frankish names instead of Anglo-Saxon names. Male names like William became normal fast, but female names changed a bit more slowly. The Normandic invasion didn’t have a lot of influence on place names, even though they had been changed a lot under influence of Scandinavian invasions two centuries before. During the Middle English period the English language changed dramatically both in grammar and vocabulary.
Whether the Norman intruders knew a lot about the English language or not, the requiries of the trading market must have had influence on the Norman people to speak a little English and be bilingual. Nevertheless it is known that Willem the Conqueror never had practical knowledge about the English language and couldn’t speak proper English for a long time.
The Early Modern English period is the stage of the English language used from the change from Middle English in the late 15th century to the change to Modern English during the mid- to late 17th century. In the Early Modern English period there were extensive sound changes in the English language, the English spelling though remained rather constant. The English language was further transformed by dialects, mainly of a standardised London-based dialect in government and administration and the effect of printing. The English language became clearly recognisable as Modern English by the time of William Shakespeare.
In the late 15th century there was a major change in the pronunciation of the English language called the Great Vowel Shift, this century was also the beginning of the Modern English period. Otto Jespersen was the first who studied the Great Vowel Shift, he was a Danish linguist and Anglicist and he coined the term Great Vowel Shift.
The Great Vowel Shift took place in England between 1350 and 1700. Due to the Great Vowel Shift all Middle English long vowels changed their pronunciation. In the 15th and 16th centuries the English language was becoming more standardized and the Great Vowel Shift has a big responsibility for many of the peculiarities of English spelling.
As said before, the biggest difference between the pronunciation of Middle English and Modern English is in the pronunciation of the long vowels. The pronunciation of the long vowels in Middle English had ”continental” values much like those in Italian and Standard German, but in standard Modern English they have entirely different pronunciations. Examples in the vowel pronunciation before the Great Vowel Shift and after the Great Vowel Shift can be illustrated from the three vowel sounds in words like mite, meet and mate. Before the Great Vowel Shift the pronunciation of mite, meet and mate were /i:/, /e:/ and /a??/, after the Great Vowel Shift in the Modern English period mite, meet and mate were /a??:/, /i:/, /e??/. For example: long e in meet was pronounced as /e??/, so Middle English meet sounded similar to Modern English mate /meet/; long a in mate was pronounced as /a??/, with a vowel like Modern English ah in father /f”??r/.
Another change in pronunciation known as the Great Vowel Shift were the change in the vowels /i: u:/, these became diphthongs. Diphthongs are types of vowels where two vowel sounds are connected in a gliding motion. Because of this gliding motion Diphthongs are often called Gliding Vowels. For example: ai in the words hide, my, like or life, au in the words mountain, amount and cow or ou in the words motion and own.
Not only affected the Great Vowel Shift the Standard English language but also other dialects in southern England and Northern England but in a different way. The long back vowels stayed unaffected in Northern English because the long front vowels had undergone an earlier shift. In Scotland was a different vowel system in the Scots language before the Great Vowel Shift, the long vowels [i:], [e:] and [a:] shifted to [ei:], [o:] shifted to [‘?] in Early Scots and [u:] remained unaffected.
Printing press was in the 1470s introduced to England by William Caxton and later Richard Pynson. The use and the adoption of the printing press speeded up the process of standardization of the English spelling.
The reason why the Great Vowel Shift took place are still highly debated, even though there were some important factors, like the large intake of loanwords from the Latin and Romanic or Neo-Latin languages of Europe during this time which had a completely different kind of pronunciation, which could have been important in the reason why the Great Vowel Shift happened.
Since the Great Vowel Shift, which began in the late 15th century and was completed in 1550, Modern English is spoken in England. Many texts from the early 17th century were considered to be in Modern English though with some differences in vocabulary. The works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible were some of the texts which were considered Modern English. Also English became a language in many regions around the world, such as the Indian subcontinent, North America, Australia, Africa and New Zealand through colonisation by the British Empire.
There are many dialects spoken in the Modern English language in diverse countries around the world including American English, Canadian English, Singaporean English, New Zealand English and many other countries it also includes Australian English and British English which our thesis is about.
There were many influences on Early Modern English which caused the transition to Modern English. Because of the lack of uniformity in spelling of Early Modern English a dictionary was published in England in 1755. The dictionary was influential in establishing a standard form of spelling and was written by Samuel Johnson. Another Dictionary was published for the United States in 1828 by Noah Webster. Also more people had access to get books in public libraries in the 19th century and many words from other languages entered the English language as a result of contacts with other countries. In World War 1 and World War 2 many people with different backgrounds, cultures and languages were thrown together which also helped to lessen the differences in dialects and accents. In the early 20th century the popularity of radio broadcasting increased and familiarised the population with vocabulary and accents which the people were not familiar with in their own localities, this phenomenon continued with television and film.
So the English language originally was a West-Germanic language but throughout the time it developed many times and is now one of the most spoken languages all over the world.

Sub question 2 Where did the Australian English language come from?

Australian English is a big variety of the English language and is used in Australia; even though English is not the official language in the country most of the population use Australian English as their first language. In 1788, after the establishment of the colony of New South Wales, Australian English began to differ from British English and it was recognised as being different from British English in 1820. It originated from the intermix of former settlers from a great diversity of commonly intelligible dialectal regions of the British Isles and rapidly evolved into a distinct variety of English. Australian English is different from other varieties of English in accent, pronunciation, register, grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
History of the Australian English language
The first and earliest form of Australian English was originally spoken by the children of the settlers born into the colony of New South Wales. A new dialect was created by the first generation of children and was to become the language of the nation. The newborn Australian children in the colony were exposed to a large range of dialects throughout the British Isles, in precise from Ireland and South East England. The foreign-born children of the colony established the new dialect from the speeches they heard around them, and with it represented peer solidarity. Even though new settlers were arriving, this new dialect was bold enough to blunt other patterns of speech.
Many of the convicts were arrested in Ireland and some of them in Great Britain and in Australia a quarter of the convicts were Irish. Many of the Irish convicts spoke no English at all or spoke it rarely and very poorly. From non-English speaking parts of Britain were many other significant populations of convicts such as the Scottish Highlands and Wales. From the early 19th century, records show the dissimilar dialect that had appeared in the colonies since the first settlement in 1788, with the book Two Years in New South Wales written by Peter Miller Cunningham in 1827, describing the peculiar vocabulary and accent of the native-born colonists, different form their parents and with a strong influence of London. Anthony Burgess who was an English writer and composer once said that ”Australian English may be thought of as a kind of fossilised Cockney of the Dickensian era”.
The Australian Gold Rushes were phases of important migrations of locally and overseas workers to regions which had discoveries of gold accumulations. A large wave of immigration began in the 1850s whereby about two per cent of the community of the United Kingdom migrated to colonies of New South Wales and Victoria. According to Bruce Moore, a specialist in language, was the extensive input of the various accents that went into establishing the Australian accent from south-east England.
Australian English adopted some aspects of Aboriginal languages, primarily as names for flora and fauna, locations and local culture. Many of these words are localised and are not a part of general Australian use however words such as boomerang, wallaby, kangaroo, budgerigar and many others became international used words. Another example is hard yakka which means hard work. It originally was a word from the Jagera/Yagara language formerly spoken in Brisbane. Jagera is an extinct language of Australia. The word bung is also from origin an Aboriginal word which means ”dead” and sometimes with an extension to ”broken” or ”useless”. Also many towns or suburbs in Australia are named after Aboriginal words or influenced by Aboriginal words. Probably the best known example is the name of the capital of Australia, Canberra, it is named after a local language and means ”meeting place”.
In the midst of the starting changes in the 19th century was the introduction of spellings, words, terms and usages from North American English. There were some imported words which were later considered to be typically Australian words for example bushwhacker and squatter. The influence of the American language continued with the growing popularity of American films and the inflow of American military staff in World War II.
How is Australian English pronunciation different from the English pronunciation?
The main way in which Australian English differs from the Standard English language and other varieties of English is because of the unique way of pronunciation. It is similar with Southern Hemisphere accents and to in particular New Zealand English. Like most of the English dialects it is distinguished by its vowel phonology.
The Australian English vowels can be separated according to length. The long vowels consist of monophthong and diphthongs and the short vowels only consist of only monophthongs. Monophthongs are pure vowel sounds, their articulation at both the beginning and end are relatively fixed, they do not glide up or down towards new positions of articulation. In Australian English are also pairs of long and short vowels with overlapping vowel quality which give the language phonemic length distinction which is rather unusual among various dialects of English but not unknown elsewhere like in regional South-Eastern dialects of the United Kingdom and Eastern Seaboard dialects in the United States. Another big difference between British English and Australian English is the fact that many of the Australian words have sounds that are eliminated. For example, when you say ”good day”, the Australian speaker says ”G’day”. Also we must keep in mind that Australian accents differ from region to region which is like in England for example the population in Queensland often have a very strong nasal accent but people from Victoria, Canberra, New South Wales and Tasmania do not have this strong nasal accent but a slightly less strong variant. Also the Australian accent makes their sentences sound like questions.
How is Australian English pronunciation similar to the English pronunciation?
They both pronounce the ‘r’ at the end of a word silently and many words are often the same however American English differs from both. For example in America we visit the ”fitness center”, in Australia and the United Kingdom we visit the ”fitness centre”. Also the word order of a sentence is the same, as is the arrangement of a sentence. Also Australian English is quite similar to Cockney because of its rhyming slang.
There are many people, many from the United States, whom do not hear the difference between an Australian accent and a British accent which is of course a similarity however if you listen closely you can hear the Australian use slang words in their conversations. The main reason why they don’t hear a difference is because they speak in quite a similar tone and some of the regional dialects of Australian sound like regional dialects of British English.

Sub question 3 Where did British slang come from?

The first thing you need to know to understand what this thesis is about, is the definition of slang; slang is the use of informal words of expressions. Or like the dictionary states: “Vocabulary, idiom etc that is not appropriate to the standard form of a language or to formal contexts, may be restricted as to social status or distribution, and is characteristically more metaphorical and transitory than standard language” Slang is used by all types of people and social groups, but mostly used by young people.
What were the origins of British slang?
It’s difficult to say when slang started to become a thing, because it usually wasn’t written down or recorded. The British slang already existed for a long time before it had been written down the first time. The first books containing slang appeared around the 16th century. Examples of writers are Robert Copland and Thomas Harman.
The first plays containing slang also occurred around that time. They were plays of Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton and of course the famous William Shakespeare.
Some words that originally started out as slang became mainstream, and in 1698 the New Dictionary of the Canting Crew was published, containing some ‘civilian’ slang words and/or terms throughout the dictionary.
In 1785 Captain Francis Grose even started a new dictionary, exclusively made for slang words. The name of the dictionary was “The Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue”, which ran to more than five expanded editions.
After that more dictionaries started to follow and slang dictionaries almost became a regular thing. Around 1950 slang regularly started appearing in books and television.
What is Cockney Rhyming Slang?
The best known slang is probably Cockney Rhyming slang. Cockney Rhyming slang can be easily explained as taking an expression which rhymes with a word and then using that expression instead of the word.
Nobody knows why the Cockney slang started in the first place. Some people suspect it was to keep the outsiders outside, meaning that Cockneys sometimes wanted to speak to each other without other people understanding what they were saying. Other people just think that the Cockney slang started out on accident or as a joke.
Cockney Rhyming slang was used by Cockneys and other Londoners from the working class, but later some Cockney phrases started to become popular in other areas too. Some aspects of the Cockney language are heard in Cockneys and the Cockney accent were looked down upon, the London County Council even stated that “the Cockney mode of speech, with its unpleasant twang, is a modern corruption without legitimate credentials, and is unworthy of being the speech of any person in the capital city of the Empire”.
But there was a group of people who defended the Cockney language, saying that “The London dialect is really, especially on the South side of the Thames, a perfectly legitimate and responsible child of the old Kentish tongue”. Ever since people started to accept the Cockney accent and the Cockney language, and they didn’t think the accent was inferior to their accent and/or language any more.
Now you’ve read all these things about the Cockney language and accent, but it hasn’t been explained what a Cockney actually is. Well, the definition of a Cockney is easy; people with a Cockney accent or a Cockney heritage are usually seen as Cockneys, but the real Cockneys are the people who are born within the sound of the bells of the St. Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, London.
Some people say that the origin of the word Cockney started out during the 1700s, country folks would tell a story about people they called Cockaignes. Saying that the Cockaignes believed that the streets of London were paved with gold and that the houses were made of cake! As a result, anyone that moved from country to live in London began to be called Cockaignes. The name became corrupted into Cockneys.
What is the Welsh language?
The Welsh language emerged in the 6th century from Common Brittonic, the common ancestor of Welsh, Breton, Cornish and the extinct language Cumbric combined. Welsh originated in Wales, England.
The history of the Welsh language can be divided in four periods:
‘ Primitive Welsh
‘ Old Welsh
‘ Middle Welsh
‘ Modern Welsh
The period known as Primitive Welsh (6th century) is the period iright after Welsh emerged from Brittonic. A synonym for Primitive Welsh is Archaic Welsh.
The period known as Old Welsh started at about 800 AD and evolved into Middle Welsh around the 12th century. A lot of poems and a couple of prose have been written in the Old Welsh language. The oldest surviving text entirely in Old Welsh is believed to be the writing on a gravestone, now in Tywyn church, thought to date from the 7th century.
The period known as Middle Welsh started in the 12th century and evolved to Modern Welsh in the 15th century. The accent of Middle Welsh is quite similar to that of modern Welsh, with only a few differences. The letter u, which today represents /??/ in North Welsh dialects and /i/ in South Welsh dialects, represented the close central rounded vowel /??/ in Middle Welsh.
The period known as Middle Welsh started in the 15th century and it is the current period. It is spoken mostly in Wales, but a minority in the UK and Argentina also speaks it.

The following table contains some examples of the evolving of the Welsh language, from Old Welsh to Middle Welsh:
Old Welsh Modern Welsh English
tir tir land
lau llaw hand
diued diwedd end
ir yr, y the
nouid newydd new
guetig wedi after
cas cas hatred
hit hyd until
did dydd day
braut brawd judgement
in ois oisou yn oes oesoedd for ever and ever

What influence did the battle of Hastings have on the British language?
The Battle of Hastings was fought on October 14th 1066 between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold II, starting the Norman conquest of England. It took place at about 11 km northwest of Hastings. It took a long while, but in the end, Duke William II of Normandy won.
William was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey in 1066. It took 6 years for him to build up his conquest of England, and faced constant challenges both there and in Normandy. One of his first actions as king was to build an abbey on the site of the Battle of Hastings in the modern-day town of Battle, England. The high altar of the abbey was built on the site where Harold was killed.
The Normans started moving to England and made England their home. The Normans settled in quite easily, and they even married the natives. To understand each other, the Normans and English had to know the same language. As they spoke, a new language started to emerge. It was a blend of the Germanic Old English and Norman ‘Old French.’
Old English words hardly had more than two syllables and they were rough and to the point. Norman words were much more elegant and less harsh. Today, we call the blend of the two languages Middle English.
The Battle of Hastings effectively ended the rule of the Anglo-Saxon rule. Norman nobles and lords were established in the country.

The English language also got much bigger in the years after the Battle of Hastings. Thousands of French words were added to the English language, making it one of the largest vocabularies of any language people speak.
Sub question 4 Where did the Australian Slang come from?
What were the influences of the Aboriginal languages?
Probably one of the most important influences on Australian English has been the Aboriginal languages. Many Aboriginal words have been adopted within Australian English, for example ‘boomerang’ and ‘kangaroo’ which are two of the words you immediately think of when we talk about Australia.
Under the Australian Aborigines were at least 600 dialects when the first fleet arrived in 1788. Within Australia there are many Australian Aboriginal languages, they exist up to twenty-seven language families and are all native to the Australian Aborigines of Australia and some islands excluding the Tasmanian languages and the eastern Torres Strait Island languages. Tasmania was separated from Australia and not much of the Tasmanian languages were preserved and much was lost before it was recorded. Also the Tasmanian Aboriginal people remained isolated from Australia, and the outside world, for about 10,000 years. Little is known about their languages and so there’s no classification for them, however it seems they have had phonological similarities with languages of Australia. The comparisons between these languages are not clear at this time, although there has been significant progress in recent decades.
The comparisons between the Tasmanian languages, the eastern Torres Strait Island languages and the Australian Aboriginal languages are not clear at this time, although there has been significant progress in recent decades.
In the beginning of the 21st century less than 150 aboriginal languages remained in daily use and about twenty aboriginal languages are extremely endangered. Only 10% of the languages which do survive are being learned by children and in addition to that these languages are mostly used, and located, in the most isolated areas.
Right now the most used language of Australia is English, other spoken languages are native languages such as the Aboriginal languages but as seen before, many of these languages are not spoken anymore.
What were the influences of the Convicts?
In between 1788 and 1868 about 162,000 convicts were transported to several Australian penal colonies by the British government. In the 16th century the British government began to transport the criminals to overseas colonies however the American colonies declined with the move towards American independence and the government needed to find alternative sites to stop further overcrowding of British prisons.
In 1770 mister James Cook charted and claimed possession of Australia’s east coast for Britain. Because of the isolation of the continent Australia was considered ideal for a penal colony and in 1787 the first convict ships set sail for Botany Bay. They arrived in 1788 to found Sydney and it was the first European settlement in Australia. Later other penal colonies were chartered in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. In 1868 the last convict ship arrived in Western Australia.
After the prison time of the convicts most stayed in Australia and joined other settlers, some even rose to prominent positions in the Australian society. About 20% of the modern Australians are descendants from transported convicts. Because of the spreading of convicts with different backgrounds, languages and accents it is possible they caused changes in the English language in Australia and had their own slang. Also some of the convicts escaped into the bushes and were left behind with the Aboriginal people, the Aboriginals also had their own slang and with the influence of convicts this could be another reason why the convicts had an influence on the Australian language and slang.
Most of the convict slang had to do with the convict system. Many of their specific terms disappeared however there are still some words which are used in Australian slang, such as ‘magpies’ and ‘canaries’ which described the black and yellow, or complete yellow uniforms which the convicts worn. ”Canary Birds”, by Phillipe de Vigors Ink and watercolour, 1849
Slang examples
Here are some examples of Australian slang words and what they mean in British English. A good lurk means a good job, Australian people are called Aussies and an idiot is called a dill or a drongo. BBC once made an article about ”Your favourite Australian Slang examples” which contained a lot of funny phrases like He played a Barry which means he did shockingly badly, Barry refers to Barry Crocker and rhymes with shocker. Barry once sang the theme tune for an Australian soap called Neighbours. Another comical example is Like a mad woman’s breakfast which means all over the place or messy. Another less-friendly example is May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny door down and that is a way of wishing someone bad luck.
There are also a few ‘regular’ slang words which are used more often and are good to know when you visit Australia. For example when Australians say Cya this arvo in class they mean see you this afternoon, when they’re talking about an earbashing they’re talking about a constant chatter however if they tell you that you are spiffy then you are great looking. In Australia many people walk on thongs, which are flip flops and when they need to go to the dunnie, they need to go to the toilet. Also Australians very often use an adjective used as an intensive: bloody ”it’s bloody hot in here”. And last but not least when Australians bid you goodbye they will probably say ”hooroo mate”.
The key question
Is the difference between British Slang and Australian Slang really as big as we think?
At first we thought that the differences between Australian slang and British slang would be very big, especially since Australia and the United Kingdom are a long way apart from each other. But when you look into the grammar, they are actually very much alike.
That makes a lot of sense when you think about it, Australia used to be a colony from the British. Their jails were full, so they put a lot of convicts on a boat and sent them to Australia to start a life there.
The convicts kept speaking English to each other, and so did their kids and their grandkids and so on. But the language from the convicts may have been influenced by the native Australians, that is how the slang and accent from the convicts in Australia became more independent from the people in England. However the natives may have influenced the language. However I find it still very hard to hear the difference between Australian English and British English.

Table of contents

Introduction””””””””””””””””””””3

Sub question 1: ”””””””””””””””””””.4
Where did the English language come from?
– What are the origins of the English language’? Old English
‘ Middle English
‘ Early Modern English
‘ Modern English
Sub question 2: ”””””””””””””””””””.8
Where did the Australian English language come from?
– History of the Australian English language
– How is Australian English pronunciation different from the English pronunciation?
– How is Australian English pronunciation similar to the English pronunciation?
Sub question 3: ””””””””””””””””””’11
Where did British slang come from?
– What were the origins of British slang?
– What is Cockney Rhyming slang?
– What is the Welsh language?
– What influence did the battle of Hastings have on the British language?
Sub question 4: ””””””””””””””””””’14
Where did the Australian Slang come from?
– What were the influences of the Aboriginal languages?
– What were the influences of the Convicts?
– Slang examples

The key question: .””””””””””””””””””15
Is the difference between British Slang and Australian Slang really as big as we think?
Introduction
This year we got the assignment to write a thesis about a subject of your choice. We choose the subject English and decided to do a research about Australian slang and British slang. The reason we picked this particular subject is because we both are very interested in the English language.
The reason we decided to write a thesis about Australian slang and British slang is because Anouk’s mother was born in Australia and lived there for a while and could tell us a lot about the slang they use in Australia, besides we would like to learn a lot more about the Australian (and English) language and culture and this assignment is a great opportunity to learn more about their language and culture both academically as socially.
Sub question 1 Where did the English language come from?

What are the origins of the English language?
The English language is actually a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects. It really started when the three Germanic tribes arrived, who invaded Britain during the fifth century and we call this the Old English period (450 ‘ 1100AD). The tribes who invaded Britain were the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. They crossed the North Sea from what we now call Denmark en northern Germany. The language that the inhabitants of Britain spoke at that time was a Celtic language.
The Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes mixed their Germanic dialects and used a vocabulary which was completely different from other European languages of the same period. For example the word ”English” was in Old English ”Englisc” and comes from the Angles’ name. The Angles were named from their land of origin; Engle. What we now call Old English arised out of the many languages and dialects of the invaded tribes.
Most of the people who spoke a Celtic language were pushed west and north by the Germanic tribes in the direction of what we now call Wales, Scotland and Ireland. One Group migrated to the Brittany Coast of France where you can still find people who speak the Celtic language of Breton today. The Latin language also remained in Wales, Scotland and Ireland and was later reintroduced to England by missionaries from Celtic and Roman churches.
The influence of the Celtic language upon Old English was barely noticeable. In fact, very few Celtic words remained in the English Modern language. But many of place and river names have Celtic origins, for example: Dover, Cumberland, Thames, Trent, Severn. The most famous work in Celtic language is a poem written by an unknown Anglo-Saxon poet and the poem is called Beowulf. It’s considered as the oldest surviving long poem from the Old English period, most English speakers nowadays can barely figure out what it says.
In the 10th and 11th century, the North Germanic language Old Norse had a big influence on Old English. Old Norse was spoken by the Norsemen who invaded the North East of England and settled themselves there. Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons spoke almost the same language but from different departments of the Germanic language. Even though their vocabulary was almost the same, their grammars were much An example of Old English more different.
A Group of people who also had a big influence on the English language and culture were the Vikings. They interacted a lot with the ordinary people and the Christianization of the Danes encouraged this contact even more. The English language borrowed about two thousand words from the Old Norse for example: bag, hit, law, same, sky and more.
Old English was spoken until sometime in the twelfth or thirteenth century.
The Norman Conquest began in 1066 with the invasion and occupation of the United Kingdom by an army of Norman, Breton, Flemish and French soldiers under the instructions of William the Conqueror; duke of Normandy and later William I of England. This was also the event which began the transition from Old English to Middle English. From his home base in northern France William the Conqueror invaded the British Island and settled himself there with his nobles and court. William destroyed the opposition with a brutal hand and robbed the Anglo-Saxon earls of their property, sharing it to the ones that supported him (mainly the Normans).
One of the most obvious consequences of the conquest was the introduction of the Anglo-Norman language, a north western dialect of the Old French language, as language of the most important classes of population. Old-English disappeared as the language of the most powerful people. French words intensively intruded the English language. Middle English became a mixture of Roman and Germanic languages. The Old French language would be the court language for centuries to follow. Not until 1363 there was a parliamentary meeting in the language that the ordinary people spoke.
Another sign of power shift was the use of the Frankish names instead of Anglo-Saxon names. Male names like William became normal fast, but female names changed a bit more slowly. The Normandic invasion didn’t have a lot of influence on place names, even though they had been changed a lot under influence of Scandinavian invasions two centuries before. During the Middle English period the English language changed dramatically both in grammar and vocabulary.
Whether the Norman intruders knew a lot about the English language or not, the requiries of the trading market must have had influence on the Norman people to speak a little English and be bilingual. Nevertheless it is known that Willem the Conqueror never had practical knowledge about the English language and couldn’t speak proper English for a long time.
The Early Modern English period is the stage of the English language used from the change from Middle English in the late 15th century to the change to Modern English during the mid- to late 17th century. In the Early Modern English period there were extensive sound changes in the English language, the English spelling though remained rather constant. The English language was further transformed by dialects, mainly of a standardised London-based dialect in government and administration and the effect of printing. The English language became clearly recognisable as Modern English by the time of William Shakespeare.
In the late 15th century there was a major change in the pronunciation of the English language called the Great Vowel Shift, this century was also the beginning of the Modern English period. Otto Jespersen was the first who studied the Great Vowel Shift, he was a Danish linguist and Anglicist and he coined the term Great Vowel Shift.
The Great Vowel Shift took place in England between 1350 and 1700. Due to the Great Vowel Shift all Middle English long vowels changed their pronunciation. In the 15th and 16th centuries the English language was becoming more standardized and the Great Vowel Shift has a big responsibility for many of the peculiarities of English spelling.
As said before, the biggest difference between the pronunciation of Middle English and Modern English is in the pronunciation of the long vowels. The pronunciation of the long vowels in Middle English had ”continental” values much like those in Italian and Standard German, but in standard Modern English they have entirely different pronunciations. Examples in the vowel pronunciation before the Great Vowel Shift and after the Great Vowel Shift can be illustrated from the three vowel sounds in words like mite, meet and mate. Before the Great Vowel Shift the pronunciation of mite, meet and mate were /i:/, /e:/ and /a??/, after the Great Vowel Shift in the Modern English period mite, meet and mate were /a??:/, /i:/, /e??/. For example: long e in meet was pronounced as /e??/, so Middle English meet sounded similar to Modern English mate /meet/; long a in mate was pronounced as /a??/, with a vowel like Modern English ah in father /f”??r/.
Another change in pronunciation known as the Great Vowel Shift were the change in the vowels /i: u:/, these became diphthongs. Diphthongs are types of vowels where two vowel sounds are connected in a gliding motion. Because of this gliding motion Diphthongs are often called Gliding Vowels. For example: ai in the words hide, my, like or life, au in the words mountain, amount and cow or ou in the words motion and own.
Not only affected the Great Vowel Shift the Standard English language but also other dialects in southern England and Northern England but in a different way. The long back vowels stayed unaffected in Northern English because the long front vowels had undergone an earlier shift. In Scotland was a different vowel system in the Scots language before the Great Vowel Shift, the long vowels [i:], [e:] and [a:] shifted to [ei:], [o:] shifted to [‘?] in Early Scots and [u:] remained unaffected.
Printing press was in the 1470s introduced to England by William Caxton and later Richard Pynson. The use and the adoption of the printing press speeded up the process of standardization of the English spelling.
The reason why the Great Vowel Shift took place are still highly debated, even though there were some important factors, like the large intake of loanwords from the Latin and Romanic or Neo-Latin languages of Europe during this time which had a completely different kind of pronunciation, which could have been important in the reason why the Great Vowel Shift happened.
Since the Great Vowel Shift, which began in the late 15th century and was completed in 1550, Modern English is spoken in England. Many texts from the early 17th century were considered to be in Modern English though with some differences in vocabulary. The works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible were some of the texts which were considered Modern English. Also English became a language in many regions around the world, such as the Indian subcontinent, North America, Australia, Africa and New Zealand through colonisation by the British Empire.
There are many dialects spoken in the Modern English language in diverse countries around the world including American English, Canadian English, Singaporean English, New Zealand English and many other countries it also includes Australian English and British English which our thesis is about.
There were many influences on Early Modern English which caused the transition to Modern English. Because of the lack of uniformity in spelling of Early Modern English a dictionary was published in England in 1755. The dictionary was influential in establishing a standard form of spelling and was written by Samuel Johnson. Another Dictionary was published for the United States in 1828 by Noah Webster. Also more people had access to get books in public libraries in the 19th century and many words from other languages entered the English language as a result of contacts with other countries. In World War 1 and World War 2 many people with different backgrounds, cultures and languages were thrown together which also helped to lessen the differences in dialects and accents. In the early 20th century the popularity of radio broadcasting increased and familiarised the population with vocabulary and accents which the people were not familiar with in their own localities, this phenomenon continued with television and film.
So the English language originally was a West-Germanic language but throughout the time it developed many times and is now one of the most spoken languages all over the world.

Sub question 2 Where did the Australian English language come from?

Australian English is a big variety of the English language and is used in Australia; even though English is not the official language in the country most of the population use Australian English as their first language. In 1788, after the establishment of the colony of New South Wales, Australian English began to differ from British English and it was recognised as being different from British English in 1820. It originated from the intermix of former settlers from a great diversity of commonly intelligible dialectal regions of the British Isles and rapidly evolved into a distinct variety of English. Australian English is different from other varieties of English in accent, pronunciation, register, grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
History of the Australian English language
The first and earliest form of Australian English was originally spoken by the children of the settlers born into the colony of New South Wales. A new dialect was created by the first generation of children and was to become the language of the nation. The newborn Australian children in the colony were exposed to a large range of dialects throughout the British Isles, in precise from Ireland and South East England. The foreign-born children of the colony established the new dialect from the speeches they heard around them, and with it represented peer solidarity. Even though new settlers were arriving, this new dialect was bold enough to blunt other patterns of speech.
Many of the convicts were arrested in Ireland and some of them in Great Britain and in Australia a quarter of the convicts were Irish. Many of the Irish convicts spoke no English at all or spoke it rarely and very poorly. From non-English speaking parts of Britain were many other significant populations of convicts such as the Scottish Highlands and Wales. From the early 19th century, records show the dissimilar dialect that had appeared in the colonies since the first settlement in 1788, with the book Two Years in New South Wales written by Peter Miller Cunningham in 1827, describing the peculiar vocabulary and accent of the native-born colonists, different form their parents and with a strong influence of London. Anthony Burgess who was an English writer and composer once said that ”Australian English may be thought of as a kind of fossilised Cockney of the Dickensian era”.
The Australian Gold Rushes were phases of important migrations of locally and overseas workers to regions which had discoveries of gold accumulations. A large wave of immigration began in the 1850s whereby about two per cent of the community of the United Kingdom migrated to colonies of New South Wales and Victoria. According to Bruce Moore, a specialist in language, was the extensive input of the various accents that went into establishing the Australian accent from south-east England.
Australian English adopted some aspects of Aboriginal languages, primarily as names for flora and fauna, locations and local culture. Many of these words are localised and are not a part of general Australian use however words such as boomerang, wallaby, kangaroo, budgerigar and many others became international used words. Another example is hard yakka which means hard work. It originally was a word from the Jagera/Yagara language formerly spoken in Brisbane. Jagera is an extinct language of Australia. The word bung is also from origin an Aboriginal word which means ”dead” and sometimes with an extension to ”broken” or ”useless”. Also many towns or suburbs in Australia are named after Aboriginal words or influenced by Aboriginal words. Probably the best known example is the name of the capital of Australia, Canberra, it is named after a local language and means ”meeting place”.
In the midst of the starting changes in the 19th century was the introduction of spellings, words, terms and usages from North American English. There were some imported words which were later considered to be typically Australian words for example bushwhacker and squatter. The influence of the American language continued with the growing popularity of American films and the inflow of American military staff in World War II.
How is Australian English pronunciation different from the English pronunciation?
The main way in which Australian English differs from the Standard English language and other varieties of English is because of the unique way of pronunciation. It is similar with Southern Hemisphere accents and to in particular New Zealand English. Like most of the English dialects it is distinguished by its vowel phonology.
The Australian English vowels can be separated according to length. The long vowels consist of monophthong and diphthongs and the short vowels only consist of only monophthongs. Monophthongs are pure vowel sounds, their articulation at both the beginning and end are relatively fixed, they do not glide up or down towards new positions of articulation. In Australian English are also pairs of long and short vowels with overlapping vowel quality which give the language phonemic length distinction which is rather unusual among various dialects of English but not unknown elsewhere like in regional South-Eastern dialects of the United Kingdom and Eastern Seaboard dialects in the United States. Another big difference between British English and Australian English is the fact that many of the Australian words have sounds that are eliminated. For example, when you say ”good day”, the Australian speaker says ”G’day”. Also we must keep in mind that Australian accents differ from region to region which is like in England for example the population in Queensland often have a very strong nasal accent but people from Victoria, Canberra, New South Wales and Tasmania do not have this strong nasal accent but a slightly less strong variant. Also the Australian accent makes their sentences sound like questions.
How is Australian English pronunciation similar to the English pronunciation?
They both pronounce the ‘r’ at the end of a word silently and many words are often the same however American English differs from both. For example in America we visit the ”fitness center”, in Australia and the United Kingdom we visit the ”fitness centre”. Also the word order of a sentence is the same, as is the arrangement of a sentence. Also Australian English is quite similar to Cockney because of its rhyming slang.
There are many people, many from the United States, whom do not hear the difference between an Australian accent and a British accent which is of course a similarity however if you listen closely you can hear the Australian use slang words in their conversations. The main reason why they don’t hear a difference is because they speak in quite a similar tone and some of the regional dialects of Australian sound like regional dialects of British English.

Sub question 3 Where did British slang come from?

The first thing you need to know to understand what this thesis is about, is the definition of slang; slang is the use of informal words of expressions. Or like the dictionary states: “Vocabulary, idiom etc that is not appropriate to the standard form of a language or to formal contexts, may be restricted as to social status or distribution, and is characteristically more metaphorical and transitory than standard language” Slang is used by all types of people and social groups, but mostly used by young people.
What were the origins of British slang?
It’s difficult to say when slang started to become a thing, because it usually wasn’t written down or recorded. The British slang already existed for a long time before it had been written down the first time. The first books containing slang appeared around the 16th century. Examples of writers are Robert Copland and Thomas Harman.
The first plays containing slang also occurred around that time. They were plays of Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton and of course the famous William Shakespeare.
Some words that originally started out as slang became mainstream, and in 1698 the New Dictionary of the Canting Crew was published, containing some ‘civilian’ slang words and/or terms throughout the dictionary.
In 1785 Captain Francis Grose even started a new dictionary, exclusively made for slang words. The name of the dictionary was “The Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue”, which ran to more than five expanded editions.
After that more dictionaries started to follow and slang dictionaries almost became a regular thing. Around 1950 slang regularly started appearing in books and television.
What is Cockney Rhyming Slang?
The best known slang is probably Cockney Rhyming slang. Cockney Rhyming slang can be easily explained as taking an expression which rhymes with a word and then using that expression instead of the word.
Nobody knows why the Cockney slang started in the first place. Some people suspect it was to keep the outsiders outside, meaning that Cockneys sometimes wanted to speak to each other without other people understanding what they were saying. Other people just think that the Cockney slang started out on accident or as a joke.
Cockney Rhyming slang was used by Cockneys and other Londoners from the working class, but later some Cockney phrases started to become popular in other areas too. Some aspects of the Cockney language are heard in Cockneys and the Cockney accent were looked down upon, the London County Council even stated that “the Cockney mode of speech, with its unpleasant twang, is a modern corruption without legitimate credentials, and is unworthy of being the speech of any person in the capital city of the Empire”.
But there was a group of people who defended the Cockney language, saying that “The London dialect is really, especially on the South side of the Thames, a perfectly legitimate and responsible child of the old Kentish tongue”. Ever since people started to accept the Cockney accent and the Cockney language, and they didn’t think the accent was inferior to their accent and/or language any more.
Now you’ve read all these things about the Cockney language and accent, but it hasn’t been explained what a Cockney actually is. Well, the definition of a Cockney is easy; people with a Cockney accent or a Cockney heritage are usually seen as Cockneys, but the real Cockneys are the people who are born within the sound of the bells of the St. Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, London.
Some people say that the origin of the word Cockney started out during the 1700s, country folks would tell a story about people they called Cockaignes. Saying that the Cockaignes believed that the streets of London were paved with gold and that the houses were made of cake! As a result, anyone that moved from country to live in London began to be called Cockaignes. The name became corrupted into Cockneys.
What is the Welsh language?
The Welsh language emerged in the 6th century from Common Brittonic, the common ancestor of Welsh, Breton, Cornish and the extinct language Cumbric combined. Welsh originated in Wales, England.
The history of the Welsh language can be divided in four periods:
‘ Primitive Welsh
‘ Old Welsh
‘ Middle Welsh
‘ Modern Welsh
The period known as Primitive Welsh (6th century) is the period iright after Welsh emerged from Brittonic. A synonym for Primitive Welsh is Archaic Welsh.
The period known as Old Welsh started at about 800 AD and evolved into Middle Welsh around the 12th century. A lot of poems and a couple of prose have been written in the Old Welsh language. The oldest surviving text entirely in Old Welsh is believed to be the writing on a gravestone, now in Tywyn church, thought to date from the 7th century.
The period known as Middle Welsh started in the 12th century and evolved to Modern Welsh in the 15th century. The accent of Middle Welsh is quite similar to that of modern Welsh, with only a few differences. The letter u, which today represents /??/ in North Welsh dialects and /i/ in South Welsh dialects, represented the close central rounded vowel /??/ in Middle Welsh.
The period known as Middle Welsh started in the 15th century and it is the current period. It is spoken mostly in Wales, but a minority in the UK and Argentina also speaks it.

The following table contains some examples of the evolving of the Welsh language, from Old Welsh to Middle Welsh:
Old Welsh Modern Welsh English
tir tir land
lau llaw hand
diued diwedd end
ir yr, y the
nouid newydd new
guetig wedi after
cas cas hatred
hit hyd until
did dydd day
braut brawd judgement
in ois oisou yn oes oesoedd for ever and ever

What influence did the battle of Hastings have on the British language?
The Battle of Hastings was fought on October 14th 1066 between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold II, starting the Norman conquest of England. It took place at about 11 km northwest of Hastings. It took a long while, but in the end, Duke William II of Normandy won.
William was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey in 1066. It took 6 years for him to build up his conquest of England, and faced constant challenges both there and in Normandy. One of his first actions as king was to build an abbey on the site of the Battle of Hastings in the modern-day town of Battle, England. The high altar of the abbey was built on the site where Harold was killed.
The Normans started moving to England and made England their home. The Normans settled in quite easily, and they even married the natives. To understand each other, the Normans and English had to know the same language. As they spoke, a new language started to emerge. It was a blend of the Germanic Old English and Norman ‘Old French.’
Old English words hardly had more than two syllables and they were rough and to the point. Norman words were much more elegant and less harsh. Today, we call the blend of the two languages Middle English.
The Battle of Hastings effectively ended the rule of the Anglo-Saxon rule. Norman nobles and lords were established in the country.

The English language also got much bigger in the years after the Battle of Hastings. Thousands of French words were added to the English language, making it one of the largest vocabularies of any language people speak.
Sub question 4 Where did the Australian Slang come from?
What were the influences of the Aboriginal languages?
Probably one of the most important influences on Australian English has been the Aboriginal languages. Many Aboriginal words have been adopted within Australian English, for example ‘boomerang’ and ‘kangaroo’ which are two of the words you immediately think of when we talk about Australia.
Under the Australian Aborigines were at least 600 dialects when the first fleet arrived in 1788. Within Australia there are many Australian Aboriginal languages, they exist up to twenty-seven language families and are all native to the Australian Aborigines of Australia and some islands excluding the Tasmanian languages and the eastern Torres Strait Island languages. Tasmania was separated from Australia and not much of the Tasmanian languages were preserved and much was lost before it was recorded. Also the Tasmanian Aboriginal people remained isolated from Australia, and the outside world, for about 10,000 years. Little is known about their languages and so there’s no classification for them, however it seems they have had phonological similarities with languages of Australia. The comparisons between these languages are not clear at this time, although there has been significant progress in recent decades.
The comparisons between the Tasmanian languages, the eastern Torres Strait Island languages and the Australian Aboriginal languages are not clear at this time, although there has been significant progress in recent decades.
In the beginning of the 21st century less than 150 aboriginal languages remained in daily use and about twenty aboriginal languages are extremely endangered. Only 10% of the languages which do survive are being learned by children and in addition to that these languages are mostly used, and located, in the most isolated areas.
Right now the most used language of Australia is English, other spoken languages are native languages such as the Aboriginal languages but as seen before, many of these languages are not spoken anymore.
What were the influences of the Convicts?
In between 1788 and 1868 about 162,000 convicts were transported to several Australian penal colonies by the British government. In the 16th century the British government began to transport the criminals to overseas colonies however the American colonies declined with the move towards American independence and the government needed to find alternative sites to stop further overcrowding of British prisons.
In 1770 mister James Cook charted and claimed possession of Australia’s east coast for Britain. Because of the isolation of the continent Australia was considered ideal for a penal colony and in 1787 the first convict ships set sail for Botany Bay. They arrived in 1788 to found Sydney and it was the first European settlement in Australia. Later other penal colonies were chartered in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. In 1868 the last convict ship arrived in Western Australia.
After the prison time of the convicts most stayed in Australia and joined other settlers, some even rose to prominent positions in the Australian society. About 20% of the modern Australians are descendants from transported convicts. Because of the spreading of convicts with different backgrounds, languages and accents it is possible they caused changes in the English language in Australia and had their own slang. Also some of the convicts escaped into the bushes and were left behind with the Aboriginal people, the Aboriginals also had their own slang and with the influence of convicts this could be another reason why the convicts had an influence on the Australian language and slang.
Most of the convict slang had to do with the convict system. Many of their specific terms disappeared however there are still some words which are used in Australian slang, such as ‘magpies’ and ‘canaries’ which described the black and yellow, or complete yellow uniforms which the convicts worn. ”Canary Birds”, by Phillipe de Vigors Ink and watercolour, 1849
Slang examples
Here are some examples of Australian slang words and what they mean in British English. A good lurk means a good job, Australian people are called Aussies and an idiot is called a dill or a drongo. BBC once made an article about ”Your favourite Australian Slang examples” which contained a lot of funny phrases like He played a Barry which means he did shockingly badly, Barry refers to Barry Crocker and rhymes with shocker. Barry once sang the theme tune for an Australian soap called Neighbours. Another comical example is Like a mad woman’s breakfast which means all over the place or messy. Another less-friendly example is May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny door down and that is a way of wishing someone bad luck.
There are also a few ‘regular’ slang words which are used more often and are good to know when you visit Australia. For example when Australians say Cya this arvo in class they mean see you this afternoon, when they’re talking about an earbashing they’re talking about a constant chatter however if they tell you that you are spiffy then you are great looking. In Australia many people walk on thongs, which are flip flops and when they need to go to the dunnie, they need to go to the toilet. Also Australians very often use an adjective used as an intensive: bloody ”it’s bloody hot in here”. And last but not least when Australians bid you goodbye they will probably say ”hooroo mate”.
The key question
Is the difference between British Slang and Australian Slang really as big as we think?
At first we thought that the differences between Australian slang and British slang would be very big, especially since Australia and the United Kingdom are a long way apart from each other. But when you look into the grammar, they are actually very much alike.
That makes a lot of sense when you think about it, Australia used to be a colony from the British. Their jails were full, so they put a lot of convicts on a boat and sent them to Australia to start a life there.
The convicts kept speaking English to each other, and so did their kids and their grandkids and so on. But the language from the convicts may have been influenced by the native Australians, that is how the slang and accent from the convicts in Australia became more independent from the people in England. However the natives may have influenced the language. However I find it still very hard to hear the difference between Australian English and British English.

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