Learning an Australian Accent
WHAT WILL YOU DOWNLOAD?
The download to learn an Australian Accent contains sixty-four (64) minutes of systematic instruction in MP3 sound files. You’ll also get a printable PDF of the instruction manual. It contains summaries of the audio lessons and full transcripts of the drill words, phrases, and passages.
AUSTRALIAN ACCENT: WHAT WILL YOU LEARN?
You’ll first learn a general Australian accent. You’ll then learn to modify it to create three different styles or levels of intensity.
- Lesson 1 teaches the Australian accent’s resonance or voice placement. In other words, you’ll learn how to move and shape your mouth to create the Australian sound focus.
- Lesson 2 gives the unique Aussie vowel pronunciations. Among them is the distinctive Australian pronunciation of the “AR” combination as in START. You’ll work on many of the vowels as extensions of the mouth posture learned in Lesson 1.
- Lesson 3 shows you how to drop R sounds that follow other vowels. However, it also teaches when and how R-drops DO NOT happen.
- Lesson 4 clarifies similarities and differences between Australian and Cockney. There are many similarities. So, this lesson helps you to avoid slipping from one to the other.
- Lesson 5 puts it all together in several drill passages. Firstly, it reminds you about the voice placement. Next, it drills the pronunciation phrase by phrase before leading you to a normal speaking pace. Finally, it shows you how to soften and intensify the accent as required for different characters. This lesson also briefly demonstrates changes for creating a New Zealand impression.
MORE ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN ACCENT
There’s no mystery about why Australian and Cockney accents have so many similarities, especially in the pronunciation of vowels. With its history as a British penal colony, a fair percentage or Australia’s first English speakers were Londoners. I sometimes joke that the Aussie accent resembles “Cockney through the nose.” That’s not totally accurate. The accent does have an “assimilated nasality” with nasal consonants spilling over some to their adjacent vowels. But most of Aussie speech’s “twangy” resonance doesn’t come from actual spill of sound through the nose. Rather, it’s caused by what I a “velar resonance,” with the sound bouncing off the soft palate before exiting the mouth.
LEARNING AUSTRALIAN ACCENT FOR TODAY’S ACTORS
There used to be a joke about the American perception of this accent. A few decades ago, Americans thought Australians were English when hearing them speak. Now, it’s the other way around.” Yes, most of today’s English speakers are at least somewhat familiar with the sound of Australian speech. This increasing awareness perhaps began with the movie Crocodile Dundee and the Aussie-travel promotions done by its star, Paul Hogan. Since then, the late Steve Irwin’s TV show, The Crocodile Hunter, gave the accent additional worldwide exposure. Nowadays, most Aussie-born film and TV personalities speak their “native tongue” when interviewed. Among them are Rachel Ward, Russell Crowe, and Nicole Kidman. In addition, most are familiar with the native speech of Hugh Jackman, Toni Collette, and Bryan Brown. Some films that increased awareness of the accent were The Year of Living Dangerously and Gallipoli.
- I’ve said for years that, along with several linguists, I identify three major styles of Aussie accents. I call them “harsh” Australian, “soft” Australian, and (perhaps jokingly) Australian “trying to sound posh English.” Directors and actors must decide which is appropriate for given characters.
- The world of theatre and film has an increasing number of scripts by Australian playwrights. (PERSONAL NOTE: The Coming of Stork by David Williamson is one I appeared in on the LA stage in 1984.) Other much-performed Aussie writers are Joanna Murray-Smith and Dan Lee.