Sherwood Probus learns Australian English

Professor Roly Sussex of the Institute of Teaching and Learning Innovation at The University of Queensland was our guest speaker at our April meeting. His topic was “Australian English and where it is going”. Roly is well known through his weekly broadcast on the ABC and his column in the Courier Mail Weekend Magazine.

He is an entertaining speaker and throughout his talk he gave examples of Australian English, which has increasingly become more acceptable. An early written example was the Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis published in 1915. He was able to drop into a wide range of accents and colloquialisms to demonstrate his points and show the many regional differences.

What are the common features? A preference for using first names instead of titles and surnames; use of Americanisms in some spellings and words; and especially the use of diminutives, such as Rocky for Rockhampton, Bundy for Bundaberg. Other well-known diminutives, which don’t need explanation, are cab sav and barbie (not the doll). I find though that we tend to lengthen short words and shorten long ones! Apparently women are more responsible than men for changes in the way we speak, such as the high rise tone at the end of sentences.

Neil Page thanked Roly for his interesting talk and presented him with a “Certificate of Appreciation” and a Probus Pen.

Rolly & Neil

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