Australian English over time: using sociolinguistic analysis to inform dialect coaching

Benjamin Purser*, James Grama, Catherine E. Travis

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Depictions of Australian English in theater and film by non-Australian performers are often met with negative public reactions by Australian audiences. This partially stems from misconceptions about Australian vowel pronunciations (e.g., that mate and might are homophones); however, there is also a general lack of awareness about how Australian English has changed over time. Research in dialect coaching has long argued that dialect practitioners and learners must have sociolinguistic awareness of the phonetic reality of the dialect being represented. This paper is a resource to assist in the development of such awareness. Research methods from sociolinguistics and phonetics are applied to provide a detailed description of Australian English vowels as evidenced in a large, longitudinal corpus of spontaneous speech data. The corpus captures the speech of 95 Anglo-Celtic Australians in Australia’s largest city, Sydney, and includes recordings made at two points in time (1970s and 2010s) with speakers born between 1914 and 1999. The empirical description of vowel productions over time presented here provides a guide for dialect coaches and performers alike for application in their work with Australian English.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)269-291
    Number of pages23
    JournalVoice and Speech Review
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


    • Australian English
    • Dialect coaching
    • dialect performance
    • language change
    • phonetics
    • sociolinguistics
    • vowels


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