Donna speaks out about Australian accents at the Australian Embassy

Why an Australian accent is good

I'm hear to tell you why Australian Accented English is as desirable as a British or American accent and perhaps even BETTER!!!

At the end of my short talk- I want you to understand that not only will students visiting Australia learn English, have a fantastic time in the outdoors, enjoy barbies, go to the beach and play sports, but they may be lucky enough to pick up the hint of an Aussie Accent.

I want you to understand why Australian English is a good accent to have.

But FIRST!

Where did a negative image of Australian English come from???
Two words! Crocodile + Dundee
- Crocodile Dundee had come out in 1986 then Crocodile Dundee TWO in 1988

The world thought ALL Australians talked like that

I came to Japan in 1996, started my narration career in 1997.

- No one wanted an Australian accent except NHK news
I would have to do UK or US english.
- when I auditioned for the Shinkansen in 2002 which I then recorded in 2003 I was told by the agency not to mention Australia!!!
- Most songs I've recorded for Benesse, EEC and Yamaha have been US English

REGIONAL ACCENTS

No matter where you go in the world there are many global variants of English- Carribean, Singapore, India, China, South Africa..and French!
Within the UK or US there are many types of English accent
You have Southern American, New York and Queens English and people who talk like David Beckham. You have Tokyo Japanese and Tohoku Japanese- Paul Hogan is Tohoku!!!

Wherever you go, English speakers HAVE to learn to listen and understand different types of English-

In the 1990s there was an NHK program which taught that Australians said DYE instead of DAY

So by the time I came in 1996 was a prejudice against Aussie English.

What is Aussie English?
- There are THREE Aussie accents
10% speak like Bob Hawke, Steve Irwin and Julia Gillard & PAUL HOGAN

10% speak like Malcolm Fraser and Cate Blanchett & Heath Ledger

80% speak like Nicole Kidman and Kevin Rudd.

Crocodile Dundee is a rare Regional accent

However, NOW Aussie English is more popular and is gaining acceptance even in Japan

What's happened to change the perception of Aussie English?

One year after Titanic, In 1999 Kate Winslet took the role of a young Australian girl in Holy Smoke and Heath Ledger became famous overnight in 10 things I hate about you

BOTH USED AUSTRALIAN ENGLISH- this was new to Hollywood.

But a breakthrough came with Moulin Rouge in 2001- I'll never forget my shock at hearing Aussie English on the big screen in an "international movie"

Nicole Kidman, Heath Ledger, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts, Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush, Baz Luhrma, Rachel Griffiths, Toni Collette- all these actors are constantly being interviewed and the world has finally learned that Aussie English sounds attractive!

We don't all sound like Paul Hogan!

With the growth of CNN and 24 hour news coverage, the whole world became used to hearing Aussie accents from journalists based in the UK and Australia.

In 2007 I rerecorded the Tokaido Shinkansen using a cultivated Australian accent. A documentary I recorded about Climate Change in 2007 won an award in New York for MICO a subsidiary of NHK- and I used Aussie English.
Now in April 2010 NHK's 2nd series of Little Charo has a main character- Charo's MUM- played by ME is using Aussie English- probably the first time in educational programming in Japan

Why is Aussie English a good accent to have?

Australia is a small, friendly, cultured country.
Aussie English reflects this. Unlike American English and a lesser extent UK English, it is politically and socio-economically NEUTRAL.
Aussie English is not snobby, not bossy or haughty.

TO FINISH!!

But here's the sad news- most students will never pick up a Aussie English Accent unless they study there for years.

My husband as taught returnees for years at Dokkyo University and more often than not could only tell someone had lived many years in the US, UK or Australia by their vocabulary- not their accent (heaps! is the word that identified students who'd lived a long time in Australia)

It takes years to become a good enough speaker to also pick up an accent. But if they don't come back with a wonderful Aussie accent, they will come back with many happy memories of spending time in friendly, beautiful Australia!

1 Response

  1. Yuko
    I love Aussie accent and lingo so I enjoyed to listen it. I hope Australian don't loose their accent.

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