Posts categorised ‘Languages’

Wiki: Australian English accents

Unlike North America, Britain or Ireland, we don’t really have regional accents (although some features are more common in certain regions); instead our accents tend to be correlated with socio-economic status.

Traditionally, Australian English was described as having three accent groups:

  • Cultivated Australian: sounding very similar to RP, you can hear this accent in the speech of old …

Read more…

Wiki: Australian English

Australian English is the variant of English that I speak, obviously. Like a lot of people, I am interested in the features of my native dialect, how the developed, and how they compare to other varieties of English. This page is going to be the “landing page” of all kinds of topics related to that 🙂


Unlike Britain, Ireland or North America, we don’t really have regional …

Read more…

Link: “scolding water – John Wells’s phonetic blog”

Original post found at: http://phonetic-blog.blogspot.com/2010/02/scolding-water.html

This helped to explain a phenomenon I’ve noticed, where some words (like fault, false, alter, because – although that last one isn’t really explained by this link) are pronounced with the “lot” vowel by most people, but with the “thought” vowel by a minority (I want to say mainly by old people), in Australian English. I wondered if it was a lot-cloth split thing (and it probably is in the case of because), but where the vowel precedes [l] it didn’t seem to be that, so I had to keep looking. Finally I found that this phenomenon occurs in RP too, and this blog post describes the class of words affected as “words like salt”. At last, some confirmation that what I’ve noticed is a well-known “thing”!

Link: “Schism fears for Gaeilgeoirí”

Original post found at: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/schism-fears-for-gaeilgeoirí-1.1269494

Is there a city version of the Irish language? And if there is, how different is it from Gaeltacht Irish? A conversation I recently had with a speaker from Limerick, who is raising her daughter in Irish, revealed a fascinating fact. She never listened to Raidió na Gaeltachta. Was it that it was a Gaeltacht station and irrelevant to her, I asked? Only partly, she admitted. It was actually because she found the presenters very difficult to understand.

Yet this woman spoke fluent Irish. How could a fluent speaker of Irish have such difficulty with the national Irish-language radio station?

This article’s from 2010, but I found it really interesting nonetheless. The Irish language has been gaining popularity in Ireland’s cities, but speakers of this urban variant often struggle to understand speakers from the Gaeltacht, while Gaeltacht speakers often find the urbanites' speech weird and unpleasant to hear – to the point that members of the two groups often prefer to speak English with each other.

This article talks about the linguistic differences between Gaeltacht Irish (varieties passed on continuously from one generation to the next) and urban Irish (the result of language revival efforts, like Irish-medium schools). I appreciate that the author doesn’t just dismiss the latter as “bad Irish” or put down its speakers; he’s actually very positive about that community, even though he’s quite frank about the “simplified” nature of their Irish.

Link: “What is something Spanish speaking children commonly get wrong? /r/learnspanish”

Original post found at: https://www.reddit.com/r/learnspanish/comments/nxhjyv/what_is_something_spanish_speaking_children/

Thought this was an interesting Reddit thread on the things Spanish-speaking kids say when they’re learning how to talk 🙂 Unsurprisingly, many of them are the same classes of mistake that English-speaking kids make, like misconjugating irregular verbs as if they were regular, or mispronouncing certain phonemes to make them easier to say.

Link: “Is your kid studying a second language at school? How much they learn will depend on where you live”

Original post found at: https://theconversation.com/is-your-kid-studying-a-second-language-at-school-how-much-they-learn-will-depend-on-where-you-live-155219

The main thing I took away from this piece is that Victoria makes some of the most thorough recommendations for how much language-learning schoolkids should get, but in my experience no primary school student gets anywhere near 150 minutes of foreign language instruction per week. Try one-third of that at best. And kids end up not learning much except rote-memorised lists of numbers, days of the week, members of the family, etc. and basic pleasantries like “Hello, my name is…” and “How are you? I’m fine thanks.” The whole system needs a big overhaul.

Why I Still Find Spanish Imperatives Hard

I started learning Spanish over 11 years ago and I’m not too bad at it now, but I have to admit but one of the aspects I still find hella difficult is the imperatives – the “do this, don’t do that” form.

In English, imperatives are easy: you just use the bare infinitive (e.g. be, go, do), regardless of whether you’re talking to your best friend or your grouchy boss. …

Read more…

The Evolution of Canadian, Australian and NZ Englishes

On Quora, I once answered a question about why Australian and NZ English sound more like “British English” (really, the questioner meant the accents of southeast England) than Canadian English does. At the time I answered, a lot of the other answers were along the lines of “Canada is sooooo diverse and Australia isn’t so that’s why”, even though in reality the …

Read more…

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.