Ethnic variation in real time: Change in Australian English diphthongs

James Grama, Catherine Travis, Simon Gonzalez Ochoa

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Ethnic and ethnolectal variation in migrant communities have received much attention, but the manifestation and longevity of this variation is not yet well understood. Capitalising on Barbara Horvath’s foundational study of social variation in Australian English, and a comparable, recent corpus of sociolinguistic interviews (Sydney Speaks 2010s), we present a real-time test of ethnic variation in the speech of approximately 170 Australians over a 40-year period. We examine the speech of Anglo-, Italian- and Chinese-Australians, focusing on five diphthongs considered to be characteristic of Australian English. Analyses of over 20,000 tokens reveal no wholesale differences among ethnic groups, but they do reveal some differences in the progression and social conditioning of changes over time, which we argue are best understood in relation to the social nature of the changes undergone.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLanguage Variation – European Perspectives VIII
    Editors Hans Van de Velde, Nanna Haug Hilton and Remco Knooihuizen
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam/Philadelphia
    PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
    ISBN (Print)9789027259820
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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