Colloquialization versus densification in Australian English

a multidimensional analysis of the Australian Diachronic Hansard Corpus (ADHC)

Haidee Kruger*, Adam Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Colloquialization has been identified as one of the most important factors in short-term language change, and has been proposed as playing a particularly important role in Australian English. At the same time, some studies have observed the contrasting trend of densification (as one manifestation of anti-colloquialization), where information is condensed into fewer words—a characteristic of written language unlike the more diffuse expression expected in spoken styles. There is limited research into the dynamic between these complementary patterns of language change using large diachronic corpora and comprehensive sets of features associated with colloquialization and densification. This paper addresses these gaps by applying the multidimensional method of Biber (1988) to the Australian Diachronic Hansard Corpus (1901–2015). A quantitative analysis (at both the macro-level of factor (or dimension) scores and the micro-level of individual features) provides substantive evidence for the effects of both processes of language change. It is proposed that five factors (editorial policy, communicative aims of the register, intended audience, production mechanisms and broader social context) interact in shaping the relationship between these two processes in this register.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-328
Number of pages36
JournalAustralian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Australian English
  • colloquialization
  • densification
  • Diachronic Corpus
  • Hansard
  • language change
  • multidimensional analysis

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