Australia does not have an official language, but English is widely accepted as the de facto method of communication. Australian English has been heavily influenced by British and American English but has a unique accent as well as some unique sayings grammar in comparison. Like New Zealand English, the Australian dialect is considered one of the newest branches of the English language. Around 250 indigenous languages are thought to have existed at the time of the first European contact, but less than 20 of these languages survive today.
Australian English is the only language used by around 70% of the population, but most Australian residents will have a working knowledge of English. Many first and second generation immigrants to the country are bi-lingual, but around 18% of the nation does not speak or understand English. Around 12% of the Aboriginal population speaks an indigenous language while at home.
There are many unique phrases to Australia which some tourists may find confusing. Watch out for mozzies (mosquitoes) and if someone says "fair dinkum", it means real, genuine, or true. Liquor stores in Australia are known as bottle-o's, and petrol stations can be called "servos" (service stations). The Australian lexicon seems never-ending, and there are many more phrases to learn if travelling down-under.
Minority languages in the nation include Mandarin Chinese, spoken by 2.5% of the population, Italian, spoken by 1.4% of the population, and Arabic and Greek, both spoken by approximately 1.3% of the population. There are also several indigenous dialects that are native to Australia such as the Aboriginal, Tasmanian, and Torres Strait languages. Sydney and Melbourne are considered major cosmopolitan areas and many different languages are spoken in these areas due to an influx of immigrants and the prevalence of multiculturalism in these cities.
This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018
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