Crikey! Has the “Aussie” dialect of English become that colloquial that foreigners have no hope in understanding us? In some cases yes, but is it really a bad thing? Does our “evil twin sister” form of the pompous, well-behaved Old English language give us a uniqueness in culture that International students are intrigued by and want to learn more about it? In my opinion and from personal experiences, yes it does.
As Australia is a fairly new country and is essentially made up of migrants, “Australian English vocabulary is a hybridisation of Gaelic, Welsh, Scots, London Cockney, Indigenous, Malay…”(Angelo, 1994). This has given Australian English its unique dialect made up of informality and colloquialisms. Now, when we throw international students into this culture, mumbling sentences at them at 1 million miles an hour such as “Aymatey,gonnagetonthepisswivyaoldpalafterthefootythisarvo?” is probably going to get a very “…..” response from poor old Edgar from Germany who thought he had quite a good grasp on the English language. In the reading ‘International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, its stated “Students mentioned that it was particularly difficult to understand the Australian accent out in the community”. This is mostly due to our tendencies to mumble and slur words, when foreign students listen to clear and accurate accents when learning English e.g. instead of classically saying “going to” we mash the words together to form “gonna”. These sort of words confuse the daylight out of students and in some cases deter them from speaking to locals. Yes, it is a lazy and colloquial form of language, but that’s what foreigners love about Australia! Take into account the recent tourism campaign “Where the bloody hell are you?”. The stereotypically relaxed, informal message of Australia that the campaign is conveying to the globe, complements our relaxed and informal “Australian language”.
Even though it may be a daunting prospect for international students to understand our “lingo”, the best way to experience the culture is to fully embrace and immerse yourself in it. Find a common ground with some of locals even if its just simply talking about what you had for “brekkie” (breakfast). Whilst us as Australians need to understand that our form of English is not globally taught so patience and constant communication will ensure a culturally-rich experience for the internationals. Here’s a video that will definitely give you a headstart. Cya round you little ankle-biters!