Pronunciation model: Australian English

View the key for Australian English here.

Australia has relatively subtle regional pronunciation differences compared with Great Britain, though this is not to deny that differences exist and are growing (see Bradley 2008). Like many of the varieties now covered in the OED, the focus for the Australian English model is the middle of three points on a spectrum of pronunciation. Rather than the high-prestige ‘Cultivated’ form or the low-prestige ‘Broad’ form, our model is intended to reflect the variety of the majority, known as ‘General’.

The model is predominantly based on the main features of Australian English described by Horvath (2008), with consideration of the contrasts portrayed in Bruce Moore’s (2004) Australian Oxford Dictionary (AOD). The vowel keywords and their symbols are given in the table below. Note that the final column lists a range of vowels in unstressed syllables.

 KEYWORD  Symbol  KEYWORD  Symbol  KEYWORD  Symbol  KEYWORD  Symbol
 KIT  ɪ  FLEECE  iː  NEAR  ɪə  HAPPY  i
 DRESS  e  GOOSE  uː  SQUARE  eə  LETTER  ə
 TRAP  æ  PALM  ʌː  CURE  ʊə  RABBIT  ə
 BATH  ʌː  START  ʌː  FACE  æe  ADDED  ə
 LOT  ɔ  NURSE  ɜː  PRIDE  ɑe  BEAUTIFUL  ə
 CLOTH  ɔ  NORTH  ɔː  VOICE  oɪ  PIANO  i
 STRUT  ʌ  FORCE  ɔː  MOUTH  æɔ  AGO  ə
 FOOT  ʊ  THOUGHT  ɔː  GOAT  oʊ  BECAUSE  ə + i

Australian English is not a rhotic variety, so /r/ sounds pattern more similarly to British English than American English. However, some speakers ‘flap’ /t/ between vowels (in words such as bitter or in phrases such as get out) in a similar way to U.S. speakers. This appears to be an increasing phenomenon, although there remains variability and at least three other types of /t/ are documented: a British-like /t/, one with /s/-like frication, and a possibly more context-restricted glottal stop. Our Australian English model condenses these into simply ‘unflapped’ and ‘flapped’ transcriptions, /t/ and /d/ respectively, and both forms are given. Purely for consistency, the unflapped pronunciation is given first in each case.

Sources

Bradley, D. 2008. Regional characteristics of Australian English: phonology. In: K. Burridge & B. Kortmann, eds. Varieties of English 3: the Pacific and Australasia. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp.111-123.

Horvath, B.M. 2008. Australian English: phonology. In: K. Burridge & B. Kortmann, eds. Varieties of English 3: the Pacific and Australasia. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp.89-110.

Macquarie Dictionary Online. 2015. Macquarie Dictionary Publishers, an imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd, www.macquariedictionary.com.au.

Moore, B. 2004. The Australian Oxford Dictionary. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.