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How Australia Can Deal with the Fallout from Our Drunk Accent

Why improve ourselves when we could drag the rest of the world down with us?

by Lee Zachariah
Nov 4 2015, 12:00am

Screengrab via Google

Last week, Australia received the shocking revelation that our accent is the product of our drunk ancestors.

The news came from Dean Frenkel, a lecturer in public speaking and communications at Victoria University. In an article for The Age he explained that historical alcohol abuse was a contributing factor to our trademark drawl. If Frenkel had any evidence to back up his claims, he didn't burden The Age with it, and his claims have since been challenged by various linguists.

But regardless of the validity of Frenkel's claim. Australia took the news to heart, and the story spread far and wide on social media. After all, it confirms a lot of shitty things we Australians think about ourselves.

Cultural cringe is a national sport in Australia. We experience it most violently when we see a member of our population experience any form of international recognition. It's the global equivalent of how you'd feel if your dad got on stage to do an impromptu duet with Yeezy. To the rest of the world he's just some guy having a sick time, while you're in row L hiding under your seat and dying of embarrassment. Few countries are as suspicious of attention as we are.

That's why we were so quick to believe the drunk accent story. It fits with our self-image of being the world's most embarrassing wedding guest.

Our reaction was textbook morning after. Like when you get told you did something really shameful the night before and you're forced to text back: "Oh man, I was so drunk last night! I can't believe I sent you a pic of my cock/vomited on that cop/ruined the English language due to multi-generational alcoholism. Soz."

But, taking a moment to pause in reflection, is the way we speak really so terrible? Why can't we be proud of it? At least it's better than the South African accent. Let's stop being down on ourselves and admit it's kind of cute.

To be fair, Frenkel's concern runs deeper than likability. He's concerned we could be losing billions of dollars annually due to our poor communication skills. If he's right, it is something to be concerned about. But how do you chill out a whole country's way of speaking? Do we sober up our speech the same way we sober up people? Do you force children to take cold showers and drink coffee as a corrective? We tried that in Melbourne, and still nobody understands us when we say "hook turn."

Frenkel suggests teachers and educational institutions actively encourage students to talk heaps gooder. Sound advice, but it would take decades to affect any real change. Also, we're not a country particularly taken with the idea of self-improvement. If someone is doing something better than us, we don't try match them, we drag them down to our level.

When we realized a few months ago that the All Blacks were going to beat us in the World Cup, did we introduce a special new training regime for the Wallabies? No, we kicked all the Kiwis out of the country.

When Nicole Kidman lost the Oscar to Halle Berry in 2002, did we try improve Nic's acting? No, we had Australian costume designer Angus Strathie create a Catwoman costume that destroyed Berry's career. Nicole won an Oscar the next year.

Related: Watch our film, 'Aussie Outback Love Hunt'

The reasonable, Australian way to address our communication problem is to get every other English-speaking country completely fucking trashed. We're not going to act like it'll be easy to degrade the rest of the English-speaking world until they're as difficult to understand as we are, but at least we've already started.

Step One: Export more booze to the world than ever before. Achieved.

Not content with being associated with beer, we're now recognized as one of the world's leading producers of wine. Why on earth would Australia create wine unless we had an ulterior motive?

Step Two: Encourage international alcoholism by offering tax breaks to Hollywood productions that feature soused leads. Achieved.

Number of people begging for a new Pirates of the Caribbean film: zero. Yet Australia was more than willing to provide all the tax breaks necessary to make another film that promotes heroic alcoholism to the rest of the world.

Step Three: Make an Australian the leader of the world.

The closest we'll get to an Australian being in charge of the planet is by getting one of our own to head up the United Nations. And wouldn't you know it, former prime minister Kevin Rudd has been quietly campaigning for that job for some time. If his tenure as the head of the country is anything to go by, nothing will drive the planet to drink faster than Rudd setting the international agenda.

There's no scenario where we're going to put away the bottle, sit up straight, and embark on a program of self-improvement. That's not who we are. A secret, coordinated plan to drag the rest of the world down to our level, so they're as inebriated, slurred, and incomprehensible as we are, is ultimately far more plausible.

Follow Lee on Twitter.

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