How to Speak with an Australian Accent for American Dummies
I am not Australian. However, I have spoken to my Australian boyfriend everyday now for 222 days (equaling to approximately 7.29379 months), have just recently visited Australia for just over a month, got accepted for a working visa to move there, and listen to heaps, yes heaps, of Australian music. I can successfully tell the difference between Aussie and New Zealand accents, (which is much more difficult than you would think), and have to bite my tongue as Australian slang naturally pops in my head now. I’m not saying that I have absolutely perfected the accent, not even close, but I do dream in one (and yes, that one is perfect).
All I am out to do is help you learn the tricks of this bizarre accent and for you to be able to pull off a fake, yet passable Aussie accent, even if it’s only to other Americans. Hopefully with enough dedication and practice, you will able to pull it off well enough to fool other people, possibly to pick up someone at the bar because, let’s face it, who doesn’t like accents? Or, maybe it will be for a more practical reason so us alien Americans don’t just sit there, nodding with a goofy grin on our faces (which I’m definitely guilty of) the next time a dreamy Australian is talking to you when in reality we’re thinking what the hell is this person saying? the whole time.
It may still be English, but you always have to be on your toes when you’re speaking to an Aussie. It’s the only diversion of the English language in which it is perfectly acceptable to shorten, lengthen, or hell, make up an entirely new word and sling it into the conversation with no warning whatsoever. With all that being said, let’s begin with a few pointers.
What Not To Do:
You’re biggest mistake will come from assuming that the American stereotypes of Australian accents are correct, so let’s establish what these are now to avoid potential laughter directed in your direction.
· Erase the iconic catch phrase, “Throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate!”, out of your mind completely. You will never hear an Australian say this because they don’t even use the word shrimp; it’s prawn.
· “Crikey” is not as popular as you think. Actually, I have never heard an Australian say that. Not even once. Not even as a joke.
· There is a lot more to the Australian accent than ending every sentence with “mate”. . . wait, maybe not.
· Crocodile Dundee is not a suitable persona to imitate, although the famous phrase, “Now that’s a knoife!”, has a perfect example of the commonly used diphthong found in the Australian accent. But we will elaborate more on this in Part IV.
· Please don’t try to get in the correct mindset and drink Foster’s while you are reading this. It is most definitely not the Australian word for beer and is nearly impossible to find in Australia.
Now we are ready to get started.
Part I: The Golden Rule: Don’t ever pronounce R’s at the end of words– evah.
Being that this is your first step, the term “The Golden Rule” might sound a bit intimidating, but if you can master this simple (and most important) rule, you are well on your way to learning a propah Aussie accent. This step is quite self-explanatory: any word ending with “r” will now be pronounced as “ah”, or “uh”, if you will. So, for example, the word “together” will be pronounced “tew-geth-ah”, “car” will be “cah,” etc… This will be the most addicting part of learning the Aussie accent and you might find yourself doing this to words in your head as you think, or maybe even begin to say aloud after a few drinks. I would like to take a moment to pause here and congratulate you because with this one simple step, you have also just learned how to speak like a New Englander. I think I’ll just go have a cup of clam chowdah to celebrate.
Part II: Lazy Language Lingo
Do you really think Aussies have time to pronounce words in their entirety when they’re so busy lying on the beach all day? Nah mate, nah. They are going to cut down their words to the bare minimum. Afternoon? Way too long. Let’s make it arvo. So the sentence, What do you guys have planned this afternoon? would now become What d’youse got planned this arvo?
Aussies also shorten nearly every word by ending it with “-ie”. Present? Pressie. Breakfast? Brekkie. Sunglasses? Sunnies. Mosquito? Mozzie. This happens so often that when I was asked if I knew what the Aussie word for a popsicle was, I felt proud and confident of my answer.
So,do you know what we call popsicles?
Close, but no.
Okay, I have no idea.
And that, my friend, is why you should never assume anything about the Aussie accent.