Monday, July 14, 2014

In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire...

I saw a map of languages spoken at home in Melbourne, by area. There were no surprises for me, except for an African language in West Heidelberg. While I know why, I am a little surprised to learn that.

I have heard of regrets from children of immigrants who never learnt the language of their parents and can't communicate with their grandparents, as their grandparents don't speak English at all and who may or may not even live overseas.

Now overseas born parents seem really focused on their children learning the language and culture of their home country, and surely that is not a bad thing.

It isn't, as long as it not at the expense of the language of world, English. Sorry Grace, French does not cut it in world usage.

I sort Australian English and accents into about six groups. There is the very well spoken, and there are not many of them. They live on a different planet to most Australians and I am hard pressed to think of one. Then there is the more academic style English, often slightly laborious but quite correct and has the best annunciation but still sounding Australian.

Then there is normal Australian, which I think I and R speak and most of my Aussie blog readers would speak. It may sound a bit odd to people of England and quite confusing to people in the US.

For native Aussies, there are two more accents, the country accent, not so great and with weird vowel sounds dropping of word endings and a rising at the end of sentences as if they are questions. Worse is the inner city rough accent, that often uses words from New York street life. There will often be the word 'dude' in a sentence. I really don't know where these people who say dude fit into the mix and is a temporary element of modern speech or permanent. I can barely tolerate being referred to as mate from a stranger, or bud, but sorry, I am not a dude.

Curious to me is the wog accent, and sorry, I can't think of a word to replace wog, but these are people who are born in or grow up in Australia but have partly picked up their parents' accent. I find the wog accent quite attractive, but I don't know such an accent will get speakers of such very far in high flying careers.

While it is all very admirable that children learn to speak the language of their immigrant parents, to speak Australian English well, without sounding posh or rough, is ever so important. Speaking Australian English well should be the parents' primary focus and another language secondary.

It may be a character fault of mine, but I am inclined to judge people by the way they speak.

23 comments:

  1. Andrew, you are right . If you are an immigrant you have to speak language of the country where you have decided to live and what's more it is parents' duty to learn speaking their children language of the country which have chosen . It is my point of view. Their native language it is very important because everybody should have known their ancestors and roots and can communicate with their relatives.

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    1. I agree Gosia. We have Australian friends who live in Thailand but they make no attempt to learn the local language. I don't understand this.

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  2. Oh yes. I am glad that I was brought up to use English correctly, butI regret that I didn't learn my father's native language (German). And resent the americanisms which are creeping into our vernacular. Dude is just the top of the ice-berg. And an ugly tip it is.

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    1. EC, yes, I used dude as an example but there are so many of them. Perhaps they will be lost as the speakers age. I think though for children to learn another language at home, it has to be spoken by both parents and in daily use.

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  3. Until I went overseas I didn't really notice the Australian speech was different, if I can understand you it 's ok if not well I just don't know what you are saying.
    Merle............

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    1. Merle, there is a pretty good argument that if I can understand, what does it matter? But I don't know that I agree with that.

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  4. My sister speaks Australian English very well. Her voice is soft, with each word enunciated clearly and easily understood. Very different to myself and my brother. Why? R and I have congenital hearing loss, my sister does not. Our voices are flat and loud and we cannot carry a tune, while my sister sings quite nicely. She used to have a smattering of German, being 4 years old when leaving Germany, but maybe she has forgotten it. I never learned it, living in Australia since before my first birthday I grew up speaking English. German sounds harsh to me, so I never wanted to speak it.

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    1. Interesting River. I know a person who has a congenital hearing loss and he has trained himself very well to speak, but I can still hear in his voice that there is a problem.

      So that would be your sister who you visited so long ago. I think your brother seems like a pretty ok bloke.

      I would have agreed with you about the harshness of the German language, until we were in the country and we heard no harshness of German at all. Odd.

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  5. I always thought that my private school Australian education had given me a 'plumby' almost English accent and was surprised when I was living in London that I was immediately pegged as an Australian by my vowel sounds. Surprised but pleased too.

    It has always intrigued me that Australian born and educated people of Italian descent seem to have their own style of Australian accent regardless of where in Australia they were born and educated. Those of Greek descent seem to have yet another unique version of Australian accent.

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    1. To me Victor, you speak well and fluently, but I can't say you sound posh. It is an odd thing to be picked as an Australian in a country where there are so many different accents.

      You put the Italian/Greek thing so much better than my crude attempt. The nuances they retain of their parental accents is quite fascinating.

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  6. Well we seemed to understand one another! Loved the title of this post.

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    1. Yes Fun60, not too many, 'what was that?'. Not everyone will get the title of the post, but most will.

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  7. There's also a significant difference between SA and Eastern States Australian in pronunciation with even a few different words as well and Lebanese and the various versions of indigenous Australian are also apprently influenced by other language accents.

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    1. Indeed there is Belle. I kind of understand about the Lebanese, but perhaps to my disadvantage, I really don't understand why indigenous Australians speak as they do. Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Lived in melb for 23 years but travel to USA yearly for the last 20 years. travel to USA yearly. Strangely, no Americans ever had difficulty with my accent, unlike the Aussies and I thought I have an Aussie accent.

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    1. MM, that is interesting. I have heard some Aussies really struggle to be understood by Americans.

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  9. English language and how it is spoken is an intriguing subject. Have you ever heard or read Roly Sussex, he may not be heard in southern states not sure but he is brilliant with languages and origins and the whole gambit of language. We heard him speak at U3A winter school, he digs up amazing stats about words. TOH spoke Swiss Germna was educated in high German, learnt French while living in French part of Switzerland and then learnt English when he came here. He wouldn't teach our kids to speak Swiss because he was trying to improve his English.So they couldn't communicate with their grandparents but they managed with sign language and a smattering of Swiss and English on both sides.I soon lost my English accent as I was only young when I arrived here. Learning a language is supposed to put off dementia.

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    1. Diane, I did not even think of you as an example, but you are a terrific one. I am guessing your daughters did not pick up any Euro accent and speak perfectly pleasant Australian. R was 21 when he arrived in Australia and has pretty well lost his accent, although he can turn it back on. I will stick with computers to put off dementia, much as I would like to speak, say French.

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  10. Accent is a peculiar thing.. Many of the friends I grew up with have a definite 'Rhodesian' accent and yet apparently I sound like an English cricket presenter :) Must admit a pet hate is that questioning rise at the end of a sentence that always makes me want to say 'are you asking or telling' :)

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    1. Grace, surely that your compatriots had a different heritage is the reason? I shall try to quickly dissociate a mental image merge of you and Henry Blofeld.

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  11. I'm still annoyed to this day that my Nan didn't teach my Mother & her siblings Italian. Ah well.
    I have a mixed accent, sometimes the Brit parts come out, it's mostly Aussie though.

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    1. Fen, quite Brit, I think, from you voice post some time ago.

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