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A Professor Says Australians Talk the Way They Do Because Early Aussie Settlers Were Drunk

New information traces the familiar Australian accent back to early settlers and their drunken get-togethers.
October 28, 2015, 9:01pm
Popular Australian actor Chris Hemsworth having a drink, just like his forefathers. Screenshot via 'Age of Ultron'

For every accent, there's an associated stereotype. The Southern drawl makes people sound warm and friendly; Valleyspeak suggests an affiliation with the mall; and of course British accents conjure images of either lowdown crooks or Posh Spice (depending on the region). The Australian accent has long been regarded as laid-back and super sexy to Americans, but according to Dean Frenkel, a public speaking and communication lecturer at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australians developed their distinctive dialect because the country's early settlers were often very drunk.

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In an article published this week in The Age, Frenkel argues that "Aussie-speak" was originally a "cocktail of English, Irish, Aboriginal, and German." But since the Australian "forefathers regularly got drunk together," as you do when you're settling a new country, they unwittingly added a drunken slur to Australian speech patterns.

That explains the Aussie tendency to drop off Ls from words (as in "Austraya"), draw out Ss ("yesh"), and slur vowels ("good noight"), among other things. It doesn't seem like there's really anything wrong with this, but Frenkel argues that "the average Australian speaks to just two-thirds capacity," while the other third of mouth muscles required to pronounce words are "sedentary as if lying on the couch."

Frenkel goes on to connect this underutilization of speech capacity to "Australia's lack of cultural substance," which, I don't know, seems kind of harsh for a country that just wanted to have a few drinks and a good time.

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