Standard Australian English: the sociostylistic broadness continuum

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Australian English (henceforth AusE) is one of the core global varieties of English, positioned alongside other inner circle (native language) Englishes such as British English, New Zealand English, Canadian English, and American English (Kachru 1986: 130, 1992: 356; McArthur 1998: 5). It is accepted as a standard form, having achieved endonormative stabilisation (Schneider 2007: 124) in parallel with postcolonial independence and sociopolitical maturity (Cox and Palethorpe 2007). AusE is increasingly considered an influential new variety of orientation in East Asia (Leitner 2004: 342; Foulkes 2006: 498), displaying its own unique internal norms incorporating distinctive linguistic characteristics of phonology, syntax, vocabulary and idiom. Australia is unmistakably a diverse multicultural society with approximately 40 per cent of its inhabitants either born overseas or with at least one parent born overseas (Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2006a: 34). The multicultural character of the nation has increased markedly since the dismantling of the White Australia framework and the inception of multiculturalism as government policy in 1978 (Joppke 2004: 244). These changes have led to increased linguistic diversity within the Australian community which boasts over 200 commonly used languages including many endangered, but some robust, indigenous languages (ABS 2006a: 43; National Indigenous Languages Survey (NILS) 2005). Australia does, however, remain overwhelmingly Anglo-dominant, with 83 per cent of the population speaking only English at home (ABS 2006a: 43). The vast majority of speakers use AusE as their native language as this is the variety of those who are born and/or raised in Australia and it remains a powerful symbol of Australian national identity. Variations that occur within this national variety serve the dual social function of symbolising sociodemographic as well as ethnocultural group membership (Collins and Blair 2001:11).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStandards of English
Subtitle of host publicationCodified varieties around the world
EditorsRaymond Hickey
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781139847667
ISBN (Print)9780521763899, 9781107515659
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Publication series

NameStudies in English Language


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