Video Tutorial: The Cultivated Australian English Accent
There was a time before the Mainstream Australian English accent existed. During the colonial period, speakers of English in Australia generally spoke with British accents. Throughout the 19th century, the notion of a separate “Australian Accent” possibly didn’t exist at all.
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However, towards the 19th century, some differentiation began, and the first derogatory comments arose that contrasted the Australian English speakers to the British “standard” Received Pronunciation speakers.
As the local vowels and consonants started to resemble a delivery of their own at the bottom of the world, some Australian English speakers began to modify their speaking manner to be a closer match to the British accent. And this is what lead to a specific pronunciation manner which is now called Cultivated Australian English.
The very term “Cultivated Australian English” might make you think it is the best variation to use.
But don’t be mistaken.
In its name, Cultivated Australian English does sound like it’s posher, educated and the “best” way to speak, but that’s not necessarily the case.
The cultivated Australian English accent is not a superior way to speak English in Australia. No accent is better than another. Accents are just a set of sounds that follow a rule-based system (most of the time).
But with different speaking patterns, some listeners may form a negative or positive bias about you.
The most important thing is to present your message ethically and sincerely. However, if you want to modify your tone and delivery, you can add a bit of a cultivated sound system to your speaking for moments when you want to sound more formal or subjectively “crisp and clear.”
There is also not one accent of English in Australia!
It’s easy to consider the mainstream Australian accent as divided into 2 extremes, broad Australian accent and cultivated Australian English but it’s actually more a continuum.
Many Australian English speakers show a mix of features that adjust according to their environment. It’s not uncommon to find a Mainstream Australian accent that contains a blend of broad, cultivated and general accent features.
Speakers can scale their delivery and formality and sound broad at the pub and cultivated in a job interview.
There is not one standard Australian English pronunciation system! But if there are any rules to follow to move your speaking to a more cultivated pronunciation pattern, what sounds matter the most?
The Cultivated Australian English Accent has the same set of sounds as the Broad Australian Accent and the General Australian Accent. What differs is how the sounds are rendered.
Today I’ll share 3 key features that you want to amplify to move your speaking closer to a cultivated Australian English accent if that’s your goal.
1. Vowel lengths
The cultivated Australian English accent is usually produced with tighter vowel durations. Getting this correct, depends on the impact of your regular speech patterns. So if you tend to speak with a broader accent, you’ll want to make your vowel lengths shorter on these vowels: /eɪ/, /iː/ /aɪ/, /oʊ/, /aʊ/ & /u:/.
If English is not your first language, adjustments will need to take into account the vowel positions you’re calibrated to. Our team will give you specific information on how to modify your vowels in the right direction to convey the rules of Cultivated Australian English accent.
Creating the right vowel durations across your speaking for Cultivated Australian English accent will switch up your speech rhythm and speech melody. It may even increase your speech speed slightly.
Cultivated Australian English accent is typically less nasal.
Can you stop speaking through your nose? Well, no. You need your nose for sounds like /m/ as in Mum, /n/ as in “no” and /ŋ/ as in “sing.”
So don’t stop speaking through your nose.
Your nasal cavity is part of your vocal tract and it’s really important for acoustics.
If you think you speak too much “in your nose”, you’re probably sending too much soundwave through your nose, relative to your mouth.
We’ll show you how to adjust your voice tone, and help you sound less nasal.
This will cause a dramatic change to your voice tone, projection and even formality.
3. Explosive /t/
One of the quickest ways to move your speaking closer to a cultivated accent is by producing a sharp and crisp /t/ sound in all cases.
You can see many examples of this in the tutorial below. It’s very easy to apply and understand, so make sure you check the video and let me know how you go!
Pronounce your coffee order with a Cultivated Australian English AccentPut a Face to Voice Science
Both video & transcript will be published at 8pm AEST on the 23rd of August, 2020, so if you get to this page earlier than then, don’t forget to turn on the YouTube Premiere reminder button.
The Aussie Accent is not the only way to speak English.
In fact, in Australia, we have numerous different forms of English pronunciation, and I’d argue that all of them are as legitimate and official as each other.
Your speaking is not inferior if you live in Australia but don’t have an Aussie accent.
Currently, there are more non-native speakers of English than native, so no one can tell you that using a mainstream Aussie accent is the only correct way to speak if you live in Australia.
Don’t forget, ever that your voice and your message matter enormously.
Share your thoughts and insights without fear, no matter how clear you are.
Thank you so much for watching. I hope this vlog has given you some new insights into the Aussie accent. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
Ciao for now,
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Cox, F. (2006). Australian English pronunciation into the 21st century. Prospect, 21(1), 3-21.
Fletcher, Janet & Evans, Nicholas. (2002). An acoustic phonetic analysis of intonational prominence in two Australian languages. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 32. 123 – 140. 10.1017/S0025100302001019.
Mompean, Jose A. & Gómez, F. (2011). Hiatus Resolution Strategies in Non-rhotic English: The Case of /r/-liaison. 17-21.
Moore, B. (2010). Speaking our language: The story of Australian English. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.
Penney, Joshua & Cox, Felicity & Szakay, Anita. (2019). Glottalisation of word-final stops in Australian English unstressed syllables. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 1-32. 10.1017/S0025100319000045.