Is there such a thing as a Melbourne Accent?
Have you ever wondered if there is a distinct Melbourne Accent?
If so, what does it sound like?
In my view, if you live in Melbourne, I’d say the Melbourne accent sounds like you.
I really mean that.
Every day at Voice Science, I work with clients who want to sound more local, but what does this mean?
Because when I move around the city, I hear lots of different local sounds.
And we don’t all sound the same.
I got caught in a paradox today while titling this weekend’s vlog: Tune in to A Melbourne Accent…
I was actually scared to call it that, which is shocking to me because I’m pretty brave with putting myself out there in public!
What was I scared about?
I was thinking, what if someone says- “You don’t sound like you’re from Melbourne”, or “I’ve never heard anyone speak in Melbourne who sounds like you.”
These comments do happen on my YouTube channel. There’s never a dull moment waking up to them.
While everyone is entitled to their point of voice and interpretation, sometimes it’s a bit complicated!
But I’ve rolled with it.
Yes, you can tune in to my Melbourne accent in the vlog below. Is it an accurate representation of a Melbourne accent?
Yes. And not by virtue of where I’m from.
Be mindful of what you say about yourself
There are a few things I want you to action.
1. Don’t apologise for English being your second language, ever.
This doesn’t make sense. 2 languages is better than one, so perhaps people that only speak English and nothing else owe you an apology.
2. Think carefully about how you respond to job interview questions around communication.
Never use “English is my second language” as a negative topic for discussion if talking about your communication skills. If you need help advocating for this topic in job interviews, get on the phone and have a quick chat with me. I’d be happy to show you how to advocate in this area because the way you speak about your bilingualism is important and can build up the multi-lingual community or make things even more difficult for everyone.
3. Focus on your clarity.
It’s not a problem to show traces of your first language in your spoken English. In fact, it’s a great asset.
What’s essential is that you express yourself confidently and comfortably.
Only if your pronunciation is feeling awkward and challenging in English should you consider clarification work.
But in that instance, our team will first advocate for you to make sure the goals are realistic.
I’ve been living in Melbourne on and off for 20 years, but the time out of Australia did alter my vowels. There’s a bit of a Euro sound in my vowels, and the English/Spanish Creole vowels we use at home are like something from a movie! But this suits me fine. I’d not change it for the world pronouncing English without diphthongs when I can around the apartment because it helps my opera singing vowels and it’s fun.
So after 20 years in and out of Melbourne, Asia, Eastern Europe can I say this is a Melbourne accent. I have a Melbourne accent because Melbourne is my home.
And you can do the same.
I don’t care if you only just arrived here from Copacobana, Darwin, Abuja or Kerala. Your accent is Melbourne.
This year Melbourne became its own tight-knit fortress. You can say we were shut off from the rest of Australia but let’s re-frame that. We should instead consider that these difficult 9 months have tightened the bonds between us and with that comes a responsibility.
We must look for mutuality and act with empathy and support of each other.
So if you live in Melbourne, and you’re speaking, what accent are you using?
A Melbourne accent.
Don’t see it any other way.
The Melbourne accent sounds like you; it sounds like me; it sounds like the person you just walked past. The Melbourne accent is in the words you heard that you understood as much as in the words you heard that you didn’t understand.
We’re not here to sound like we’re from Melbourne. We are Melbourne. Stand tall, stand proud, you’ve been through a lot these past months, let it be a medal for your right to claim you’re from Melbourne now, more than ever. Don’t let something as silly as “my accent” or “pronunciation” is not good enough to feel like you don’t belong here or sound “right.”
Because I don’t know about you, but I had a few options to get out of here in the past months but try as hard as I might, I felt Melbourne in lockdown is better than any other open city. Why? Simply because I love it and leaving feels like dropping the ball on the team. We’re all one team, no matter how we sound or where we’re from because we do it together.
So if you want to listen to my Melbourne accent, you can tune in below. I hope you like it as much as I like yours.
Tune in to my Melbourne Accent
Both video & transcript will be published at 8pm AEST on the 18th of October, 2020, so if you get to this page earlier than then, don’t forget to turn on the YouTube Premiere reminder button.
Clarity and confidence matter more than your sound.
Thank you so much for watching. I hope this vlog has given you some new insights things to think about if you need to advocate for your speaking and identity in Melbourne. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
Ciao for now,
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.
get your pronunciation assessed by our teamA Complete Audit that you Can Start in 5 minutes from now!
If you want to get some feedback on your English pronunciation, you’ve got to see Your Personalised Pronunciation Audit.
When you enrol you’ll score yourself a total audit into every single sound of English so that you learn which sounds need more work. We’ll also do a fun vocal health survey and spot check aspects of your social communication to make sure you are speaking as comfortably and as confidently as you can.
You might also like
- (2011) Location, Location, Location! Regional Characteristics and National Patterns of Change in the Vowels of Melbourne Adolescents, Australian Journal of Linguistics, 31:3, 275-303,