Did Booze Help Create The Australian Accent?

By Keri Blakinger 11/17/15

One professor thinks he's figured out what created the country's unique dialect.

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While some have posited that the sound is a combination of dialects, a professor at Victoria University, Dean Frenkel, has concluded that the Australian accent is really just the result of the “drunken slur” of early settlers.

“The Australian alphabet cocktail was spiked by alcohol,” he wrote in The Age last month. “Our forefathers regularly got drunk together and through their frequent interactions unknowingly added an alcoholic slur to our national speech patterns. For the past two centuries, from generation to generation, drunken Aussie-speak continues to be taught by sober parents to their children.”

Most Aussies speak at what Frenkel calls “two-thirds capacity.” One third of the mouth muscles aren’t doing any work in terms of articulation. Also, the accent tends to omit certain vowels and consonants – just like a drunk person slurring their speech.

He considers whether the cause of this could be a matter of inferior brain functioning but ultimately concludes it’s just a matter of ancestral drunkenness.

“Missing consonants can include missing t’s (Impordant), l’s (Austraya) and s’s (yesh), while many of our vowels are lazily transformed into other vowels, especially a’s to e’s (stending) and i’s (New South Wyles) and i’s to o’s (noight),” Frenkel wrote.

Although this analysis of how the “lazy” Australian accent sounds unique is not new, Frenkel’s account of the cause is unorthodox. Most experts believe the accent was born sometime in the 1820s or 1830s as a result of dialectic mixing between colonial settlers – mostly from England, Ireland, and Germany – and aboriginal peoples.

According to a Macquarie University linguist quoted in The Telegraph, “[Colonial Australians] would have created the new dialect from elements present in the speech they heard around them in response to their need to express peer solidarity. Even when new settlers arrived, this new dialect of the children would have been strong enough to deflect the influence of new children.”

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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