AE 528 – My Country: Migrants Learn Aussie Slang Faster Than English-Speaking Migrants

Learn about Australian English, news, and current affairs in this episode of My Country on the Aussie English Podcast where I talk about a recent article that talks about migrants learning Aussie slang.

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AE 528 – My Country: Migrants Learn Aussie Slang Faster Than English-Speaking Migrants

Good morning, guys! What’s going on? I have an article here for you today, this is a good one. This is a pretty interesting one and I think you guys are going to be happy to hear this so, ”Non-English-Speaking Migrants Catch On Quickly to Aussie Lingo”. So, it was a really good article talking about how migrants who come to Australia and don’t speak English as their first language, actually pick up slang terms and slang expressions in Australian English. The kind of Aussie lingo that Aussies use faster than English speaking migrants who come here. So, let’s check it out.

”The unique Australian lexicon can be confusing for the uninitiated, but new research has actually found that non-English-speaking migrants pick up the local dialect quicker than their English speaking counterparts”.

So, that’s pretty interesting and I guess it shows that if you already speak English, you’re less concerned with learning slang, learning, you know, local expressions, you can already communicate, you’re less phase about it whereas obviously if you are a migrant from overseas who doesn’t speak English as your first language and you’re learning English as your second language, you’re much more likely to dive in and try and learn some of these expressions and slang terms.

”Fair shake of the sauce bottle”. ”Blow the froth off a few”. ”Carry on like a pork chop”. There are turns-of-phrase that can be baffling for many not least of all those who are freshly arrived in the country. The origins of such curious terms have been lost to most in the mists of time, but it appears those without an English-speaking background are not at all scared to jump into this linguistic melting pot”.

So, I mean this is a really cool thing to see, right? Because as an English teacher and as someone who teaches Australian English, I’m always encouraging my students to learn Australian slang, to learn Australian expressions, to really dive in and absorb the culture and try and be like the native speakers.

Obviously, you’re never going to be a native English Australian speaker, right? You weren’t born here. You don’t speak it since you were a baby, you haven’t spoken it since you were a baby, but it means a lot when you try and dive into the culture, when you try and pick up these slang expressions, when you try and learn these slang words and vocabulary and you really try and take this culture on in your own, right?

It means a lot to us and I think, I think it’s the same anywhere no matter the way you’ve migrated to, people can… they feel a lot more comfortable when you’re speaking like they are, right? No matter what language it is, I’m sure if you’re a foreigner going somewhere and learning that language, if you work your arse off to really pick up the nuances, the expression the locals used to speak like the locals, even though it’s obvious you’re not a local, it really means a lot to those people and it makes them feel more comfortable and obviously Australia is no different.

So, researchers at the Australian National University School of Literature Language and Linguistics have found that migrants learning English as their second language use these Aussie words and phrases at the same rate, at the same rate as Australian born people. Wow! That’s really cool.

So, lead study author Dr. Ksenia Gnevsheva, hopefully I saw that correctly, although I doubt it, said that participants were shown 50 items that have distinctly Australian or American references. All of these objects have different names in Australia and Australian and English and American English. For instance, the ice cooler, you would call it ‘esky’ in Australia and Americans would probably call it ‘a cooler’ or ‘lollies’ and ‘candy’, ‘flip-flops’ versus ‘thongs’, and so on and so forth, she’s told CBS News.

The study involved testing for groups of people in Australia, native Russian speakers who’s first working exposure to the English language was here. American migrants who experience Australian English as their second English dialect, native Russian speakers who had lived in America before coming to Australia and native Australian speakers. That’s an interesting, It’s interesting that they just kept it to Russians, though I guess, you know, you want to control for everything like that.

While the American group adopted the Australian descriptor for the objects just 20 percent of the time, so only one in five Americans actually start using these slang terms, as many as eight out of ten Russian speakers, sorry, Russians speaking English as their second language opted for the Australianisms.

That’s brilliant! So, almost 80 percent or 80 percent or more, right? Their language was actually more malleable than that of native speakers in English the American English speakers because they acquired and used more Australian English words. There is no such an emotional connection? Ah, there is no such emotional connection to words for the second language speakers so, they are obviously not too fazed with holding on to the original word or whatever, they’ll let it go and they’ll pick up the new one.

“It’s all about communication. They use the words that first come to mind. In a second test, the same four groups listen to words spoken in Australian and American accents and were asked if they were real or not. And once again the group with English as a Second Language was best at identifying them correctly. More evidence of their ability to adapt well and what Dr. Gnevesheva’s own linguistics preferences when it comes to the local dialect. My favourite Australianism I think is Lolli, she laughed, I like the word ‘lollies’ so like the way it sounds”.

Anyway, really cool article, guy’s, really cool article and this is obviously evidence, this scientific study is obviously evidence that you guys can learn slang, you can learn slang expressions and in fact you’re more likely to learn these slang expressions and really absorb the culture that you dive into, that you, you know, you migrate into Australia you’re more likely to pick it up than native speakers of English from other countries, you know, and that’s a 20 percent to 80 percent difference so, that’s pretty crazy, right? Four out of five of you are likely to pick up Australianisms, Australian slang, whereas if you’re from America, Britain New Zealand only one in five people are likely to pick up Australianisms.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this one, guys! It’s an interesting article. Check it out. Have a read and I’ll see you soon! Peace!


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