Variation Across Three Generations in Australian English: Selected Features from an Online Questionnaire


  • Minna Korhonen University of Helsinki


The purpose of this paper is to show how present-day Australian English (henceforth AusE) usages vary with regard to certain linguistic features that have been reported to differ in their usage in British English (BrE) and American English (ArnE). The data for the study were gathered by using an online questionnaire. The linguistic features to be discussed in this paper include verb morphology (sneak and dive), marginal modals (need and dare) and the variable -leis spelling in words such as mango( e)s. Due to limitations of space, I am not able to present exhaustive results of the questionnaire. The features chosen to be discussed here showed some of the most interesting cross-generational differences in the study. I will, therefore, concentrate on the differences in usage between three generations. By examining the generational variation, it is possible to see some indication as to what direction AusE development is taking. Furthermore, the features in question rarely come up often enough in either spoken or written corpus material (except maybe the marginal modal need), so the questionnaire method used here is a good way of tackling the question of variation regarding these features.

Author Biography

Minna Korhonen, University of Helsinki

MA, Postgraduate studentResearch InterestsThe topic of my PhD study is social variation in and speaker attitudes towards Australian English. The research material consists of approximately 33 hours of recorded interviews with 71 informants representing three generations. I collected the material in the small country town of Blayney in New South Wales in 2005 and 2006. I have transcribed the material orthographically and I am currently compiling it into a corpus of spoken data.In my PhD study, I examine a variety of linguistic features (lexical, phonological and syntactic), most of which show differences in their usage between British English and American English. My research concentrates on the following themes: the degree to which AusE follows either BrE or AmE; how AusE has changed during the last three generations; and the direction AusE is taking. In addition to linguistic features, I also investigate the speakers’ attitudes towards their language and to which extent (if any) they correlate with the informants’ actual language use.In addition to research on Australian English, I am interested in book editing and publishing. I am currently studying towards the Postgraduate Certificate in Editing (to be completed in 2009) organised by the Macquarie University and have worked as an editorial assistant for several scholarly books.




How to Cite

Korhonen, M. (2007). Variation Across Three Generations in Australian English: Selected Features from an Online Questionnaire. Linguistica Atlantica, 27, 59–64. Retrieved from