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Mapping Australian English: An exploration of perceived and reported regional variation




Kingstone, Sydney

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The exploration of Australian English (AusE) social and perceptual dialectology is in its infancy. While there has been an increase in interest regarding different forms of AusE speech variation over the past 40 years, the consensus of AusE linguistic research still lies with an approach that focuses on social varieties (roughly determined by social class) and downplays regional variation. This focus on social variation, pioneered by Mitchell and Delbridge (1965), has dominated AusE linguistics for the past 60 years. As Australia has grown as a nation, this has led to a mismatch between folk perceptions of AusE variation and linguistic analysis of AusE production. Folk perceptions help to paint a much more complex picture of AusE by comparing folk-linguistic beliefs and experiences with linguistic understandings and expertise. This thesis is an attempt to further the field of AusE dialectology through an examination of folk linguistic perceptions. This thesis seeks to examine the following questions: a. Do nonlinguist native speakers of AusE perceive speech differences across Australia? b. How has AusE dialectology changed since the formative works of Bryant (1992)? c. Can the study of AusE dialectology benefit from the inclusion of folk perceptions of AusE variation? The significance of this thesis lies in its breadth of methods and focus. This will be the first study of its kind in Australia. No study has gathered and compared both attitudinal and dialectological data across every state in Australia. This study aims to widen the research into variation in AusE by demonstrating the sociocultural relevance of including speaker perceptions as part of the larger understanding of language varieties.






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