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Is Australia about to descend into civil struggle over whether a deep-fried potato snack is rightfully called a “potato cake” or a “potato scallop”? From some current headlines, you could be forgiven for considering so.

A collection of maps exhibiting differences in words used across Australia sparked fierce debates on-line over the virtues of calling a barbecued sausage served in a single slice of bread a “sausage in bread” or a “sausage sandwich”.

Given that these maps were put together as part of an academic activity for students participating in the Linguistics Roadshow, the huge interest in the way in which Australian English is used across the nation took us by surprise. But, perhaps it shouldn’t have.

It’s often stated that Australian English doesn’t vary much geographically – and it’s true that we don’t discover the same putting linguistic variations across the country as in another corners of the English-talking world.

However, previous and ongoing analysis has shown that there are some regional differences. Among the obvious are the phrases folks use for the same factor, similar to swimwear – preferences for “togs”, “swimmers”, “cossie” or “bathers” range markedly across the states and territories.

Words for swimwear round Australia Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan ‘Mapping words around Australia’

Where do these linguistic differences stem from?

Australian English developed from the speech of colonists from numerous components of the British Isles, so generally the word used in a selected Australian region is the results of one possibility profitable out amongst individuals from different British backgrounds.

Others could be derived from the names of people or brands, or borrowed from native Indigenous languages.

Each word has its personal history, but many words across the nation have a shared history – that’s what makes these exceptions stand out.

What’s fascinating is simply how neatly some of this variation lines up with state strains, which means that there’s something extra than simply the historical choices made by colonists or the gap between completely different areas contributing to those differences.

Striking examples of this phenomenon could be seen for border towns corresponding to Albury-Wodonga, where a short walk across the bridge means you’ll hear a majority of individuals using a special word for swimwear.

More ‘bathers’ on the Victorian side of the border, extra ‘swimmers’ on the New South Wales facet. Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan ‘Mapping phrases round Australia’ Whether you call your swimwear, togs, bathers, swimsuit, budgie smugglers doesn’t matter, the actual fact is you must buy high quality Australian Made chlorine resistant swimwear, if you’d like your swimwear to be snug and last.

This is as a result of certain phrases become strongly associated with a regional id.

When there may be a couple of option to choose from, individuals might use a particular word because it’s the most common term of their neighborhood, but also as a result of that word indexes a broader group id, similar to Victorian versus New South Wales.

Words are notably good at doing this kind of work: they very easily turn out to be id markers that people orient to.

Pronunciation variations can also operate in this method: does “dance” rhyme with “aunts” or “pants” for you?

Other sorts of variation can fly beneath the radar as a result of they’re extra subtle, or part of a change in progress.

Many Australians are not conscious, for instance, that in parts of Victoria “celery” is pronounced extra like “wage” – hear out for it subsequent time you’re in “Malbourne”!

When we communicate we tend to use the phrases, pronunciations and linguistic patterns that we hear most frequently within the communities we live in.

Identity is a dynamic and ongoing process that all of us actively participate in, and we use the variation inherent in language to express who we’re at any given moment.

What is Australian English?

Australian English is really a broad cowl time period for several types of English used across the country, including the varieties used by different Indigenous and ethnocultural teams.

This is cross-reduce by the linguistic preferences of people representing different age groups, gender identities, and social and cultural backgrounds, with totally different vocations, pursuits and networks.

We are part of many communities simultaneously and might specific our belonging in varied ways.

Someone could be an Australian, a Thai descendent, a soccer player, a lady, a student of drugs, and a Tumblr user, and be very adept at gauging the totally different areas they participate in and selecting how they wish to identify inside them.

This is an important a part of what languages do – they permit us to communicate not just info, but one thing about who we’re.

‘Sausage sandwiches’ are preferred in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Rosey Billington, Lauren Gawne, Kathleen Jepson, and Jill Vaughan ‘Mapping phrases round Australia’So, subsequent time you find yourself arguing about sausage sandwiches versus sausages in bread, keep in mind that whichever time period you utilize, you’re contributing to the dynamic linguistic variety of Australia.

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