Australian English


Just a brief post today. For anyone who has been reading this blog, you may have noticed that although I sometimes use US English spellings (I was very careful to edit Enemies Closer to contain US English spellings to ensure it didn’t annoy any potential American readers), most of my posts adhere to the conventions of Australian English. Why? Well, because I’m Australia, of course!

Although I can be a bit of pedant when it comes to English in general, my approach generally is to modify my work to meet the needs of the target market. Writing a blog that has the potential to reach people speaking and writing a variety of different Englishes makes this a little bit difficult, so to make things easy on myself, I choose to write in Australian English.

Australian English spellings are a combination of British and US English spellings and usage often comes down to what is easiest. We drop the -me off the program (except for those of us still tied to the motherland by the apron strings – fewer and fewer people fall into this category these days). But we keep the ‘u’ in neighbour, colour and honour (just because – we can be ornery like that). Centre is Australian; center is not. Focused and focussed are both common, although the latter is generally considered a spelling error by people who know English well (like me – it’s one ‘s’, people!). And -ise verb endings are correct while -ize endings are not (too American!).

Australian English has made some wonderful contributions to language – words such as boomerang, kangaroo, barrack, digger and dunny – many borrowed from local Aboriginal dialects and if you have any interest in linguistics, it’s definitely a great language to immerse yourself in, particularly if you are doing it as you travel around Australia. But it would be a shame if everyone became too familiar with Australian English because it’s hilarious listening to foreigners struggling to get it right. One of my favourite “laughing at Americans who just don’t get it” moments was listening to Tom Cruise trying to prove his Aussie credentials when married to Nicole Kidman by talking about snuggling up under the donna. Doona, Tom, it’s a doona (also known as a quilt or duvet). Classic!


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