On Monday an Australian communications expert claimed his country's accent is the result of a "drunken slur" stemming from Australia's early settlers and their habit of being hammered all the time. This should surprise no one. It's a wonder this connection is only being made now, in 2015. For reference, here is a pitch-perfect impression of the Australian accent.
The expert, Dean Frenkel, is a lecturer in public speaking and communication at Victoria University (pronounced VIK-TOREE-UR UNI-VARSAH-TAYE). He made the claim in the Australian paper the Age. "The Australian alphabet cocktail was spiked by alcohol," he writes. "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."
Frenkel's piece isn't designed to insult so much as inform, and in it he calls on Australian schools to put more emphasis on linguistics. He also asks his fellow countrymen to stop it with the missing consonants and "lazily transform[ing]" vowels into other vowels.
"The average Australian speaks to just two thirds capacity with one third of our articulator muscles always sedentary as if lying on the couch," he writes. "And that's just concerning articulation."
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The Telegraph helpfully reminds us that the Australian accent has long been beset upon, "known for its flat tone, nasality, and elision to syllables." Many dialects mingle in the Australian accent—English, Irish, Aboriginal, and German—and a number of attempts to explain the Australian drawl have been floated over the years, most famously that "Australians mumble to avoid swallowing flies."
There's an interesting and incredibly thorough wikiHow for anyone interested in successfully mimicking an Australian accent. It's a 12-step process that includes practical tips like turning R sounds at the end of words into "ah" and replacing hard A's with "aye." It also contains sentences like "The accent itself requires using your tongue, cheeks, and lips to almost 'chew' the words as you say them."
"The Australian accent is sort of like going down a step in smartness, you could say," Australian actor and teen heartthrob Callan McAuliffe once told Movieline. "You guys [Americans] pronounce things as they're spelled. We add and abbreviate stuff."
Frenkel seems to agree, writing, "the communication skills of most average Americans would be just below that of Australia's best speakers."
But Frenkel believes there is hope for his country yet. "The holes in our education system reflect holes in our culture," he writes, calling for a fourth 'R'—rhetoric—to be added to the classroom culture alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic. Not doing so, he says, is costing the country not only some long overdue respect, but money. "Poor communication is evident among all sectors of Australian society and the annual cost to Australia may amount to billions of dollars," he writes, which is pretty impressive considering Australians already enjoy a low rate of unemployment, a steady economy, a robust education system, and a GDP growing at a faster rate than America's.
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