Is the cultural cringe alive and kicking? Adolescent mythscapes of Australian English in Queensland and Victoria

Louisa Willoughby, Donna Starks, Kerry Taylor-Leech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Although there is a growing literature on grammatical, lexical and phonological aspects of Australian English, there are comparatively few studies of attitudes towards this variety of English. What literature there is tends to be either anecdotal or based on media language or on findings from experimental, subjective reaction tests where samples of speech are matched against those produced by speakers of other varieties of English. This study aims to add to existing research through an examination of responses of Australian adolescents to the following question: When you think about "Australian English", tell me the first three things that come into your mind. The findings fall into three broad overlapping categories: (i) comments about language features; (ii) comments about attitudes towards those features; and (iii) comments about culture. All three categories contain responses which suggest that young Australians associate Australian English with rural and informal lifestyles. Those who provide attitudinal judgments either describe the variety in neutral terms or give it evaluations typical of those reported for broad and vernacular varieties of English. Of particular interest is the frequency with which categories overlap and intersect, and the mythscapes they construct of Australian language and identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-50
Number of pages20
JournalAustralian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Australian English
  • adolescents
  • mythscapes
  • language attitudes
  • language and identity


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