Languages of Australia

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Languages of Australia
Main Australian English
Indigenous Australian Aboriginal languages, Tamil, Tasmanian languages, Torres Strait Island languages
Immigrant Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%), Italian (1.2%)
Signed Auslan
Yolŋu Sign Language and others

Although Australia has no official languages, English has been entrenched as the de facto national language since European settlement. [1] Australian English is a major variety of the language with a distinctive accent and lexicon, [2] and differs slightly from other varieties of English in grammar and spelling. [3] General Australian serves as the standard dialect.

In law and government, de facto describes practices that exist in reality, even if not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with de jure, which refers to things that happen according to law. Unofficial customs that are widely accepted are sometimes called de facto standards.

Australian English is the set of varieties of the English language native to Australia. Although English has no official status in the Constitution, Australian English is the country's national and de facto official language as it is the first language of the majority of the population.

Contents

According to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for close to 73% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are: [4] Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%) and Italian (1.2%).

Mandarin Chinese major branch of Chinese spoken across most of northern and southwestern China

Mandarin is a group of related varieties of Chinese spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of Standard Mandarin or Standard Chinese. Because Mandarin originated in North China and most Mandarin dialects are found in the north, the group is sometimes referred to as the Northern dialects. Many local Mandarin varieties are not mutually intelligible. Nevertheless, Mandarin is often placed first in lists of languages by number of native speakers.

Cantonese standard dialect of Yue language that originated in the vicinity of Guangzhou (Canton) in southern China

Cantonese is a variety of Chinese originating from the city of Guangzhou and its surrounding area in Southeastern China. It is the traditional prestige variety of the Yue Chinese dialect group, which has about 68 million speakers. While the term Cantonese specifically refers to the prestige variety, it is often used to refer to the entire Yue subgroup of Chinese, including related but largely mutually unintelligible languages and dialects such as Taishanese.

Vietnamese language official and national language of Vietnam

Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. It is the native language of the Vietnamese (Kinh) people, as well as a first or second language for the many ethnic minorities of Vietnam. As a result of Vietnamese emigration and cultural influence, Vietnamese speakers are found throughout the world, notably in East and Southeast Asia, North America, Australia and Western Europe. Vietnamese has also been officially recognized as a minority language in the Czech Republic.

A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual.

Over 250 Indigenous Australian languages are thought to have existed at the time of first European contact, of which less than 20 are still in daily use by all age groups. [5] [6] About 110 others are spoken exclusively by older people. [6] At the time of the 2006 census, 52,000 Indigenous Australians, representing 12% of the Indigenous population, reported that they spoke an Indigenous language at home. [7] Australia has a sign language known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 5,500 deaf people. [8]

Sign language Language which uses manual communication and body language to convey meaning

Sign languages are languages that use the visual-manual modality to convey meaning. Language is expressed via the manual signstream in combination with non-manual elements. Sign languages are full-fledged natural languages with their own grammar and lexicon. This means that sign languages are not universal and they are not mutually intelligible, although there are also striking similarities among sign languages.

Auslan is the sign language of the Australian Deaf community. The term Auslan is a portmanteau of "Australian Sign Language", coined by Trevor Johnston in the early 1980s, although the language itself is much older. Auslan is related to British Sign Language (BSL) and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL); the three have descended from the same parent language, and together comprise the BANZSL language family. Auslan has also been influenced by Irish Sign Language (ISL) and more recently has borrowed signs from American Sign Language (ASL).

In 2018, it was reported that 1 million people in Australia can't speak English. [9] [10]

Australian Aboriginal languages

It is believed that there were almost 400 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages at the time of first European contact. Most of these are now either extinct or moribund, with only about fifteen languages still being spoken among all age groups of the relevant tribes. [11]

Language death Process in which a language eventually loses its last native speaker

In linguistics, language death occurs when a language loses its last native speaker. By extension, language extinction is when the language is no longer known, including by second-language speakers. Other similar terms include linguicide, the death of a language from natural or political causes, and rarely glottophagy, the absorption or replacement of a minor language by a major language.

An indigenous language remains the main language for about 50,000 (0.25%) people. Australia has a sign language known as Auslan, which is the main language that approximately 10,000 deaf people use. Chinese is by far the most spoken foreign language, with 715,000 speakers as of 2016, and has even been considered to be put on signs across Australia, to encourage tourists to explore and interact with other people[ citation needed ].

People who speak descent Australian indigenous languages as a percentage of the population in Australia divided geographically by statistical such as local area, as of the 2011 census Australian Census 2011 demographic map - Australia by SLA - BCP field 2571 Speaks other language Australian Indigenous Languages Persons.svg
People who speak descent Australian indigenous languages as a percentage of the population in Australia divided geographically by statistical such as local area, as of the 2011 census

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island languages with the most speakers today are Upper Arrernte, Kalaw Lagaw Ya, Tiwi, Walmajarri, Warlpiri, and the Western Desert language.

Tasmanian languages

Torres Strait languages

Two languages are spoken on the islands of the Torres Strait, within Australian territory, by the Melanesian inhabitants of the area: Kalaw Lagaw Ya and Meriam. Meriam Mir is a Papuan language, while Kalaw Lagaw Ya is an Australian language

Pidgins and creoles

Two English-based creoles have arisen in Australia after European contact: Kriol and Torres Strait Creole. Kriol is spoken in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, and Torres Strait Creole in Queensland and south-west Papua.

Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin was a pidgin used as a lingua franca between Malays, Japanese, Vietnamese, Torres Strait Islanders and Aborigines on pearling boats.

Immigrant languages

There has been a steady decline in the percentage of Australians who speak only English at home since at least 2001. According to the 2001 census, English was the only language spoken in the home for around 80% of the population. By the 2006 census it had fallen to close to 79%, while in the 2011 census, that number had fallen to 76.8%. According to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for close to 72.7% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are: [12]

A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual.

Sydney areas where significant population of Chinese (red), Vietnamese (yellow), Arabic (dark green), Greek (light blue), Turkish (brown), Serbian (light green) and Korean (pink) speakers lived in 2006 Sydney language groups.png
Sydney areas where significant population of Chinese (red), Vietnamese (yellow), Arabic (dark green), Greek (light blue), Turkish (brown), Serbian (light green) and Korean (pink) speakers lived in 2006
Melbourne areas where Chinese (red), Vietnamese (yellow), Arabic (dark green), Macedonian (orange), Turkish (brown), Italian (light green) and Maltese (pink) were predominantly spoken in 2006 Melbourne language groups.png
Melbourne areas where Chinese (red), Vietnamese (yellow), Arabic (dark green), Macedonian (orange), Turkish (brown), Italian (light green) and Maltese (pink) were predominantly spoken in 2006

See also

Related Research Articles

Australian Aboriginal languages language family

The Australian Aboriginal languages consist of around 290–363 languages belonging to an estimated 28 language families and isolates, spoken by Aboriginal Australians of mainland Australia and a few nearby islands. The relationships between these languages are not clear at present. Despite this uncertainty, the Indigenous Australian languages are collectively covered by the technical term "Australian languages", or the "Australian family".

Torres Strait Creole is an English-based creole language spoken on several Torres Strait Islands, Northern Cape York and South-Western Coastal Papua. It has approximately 25,000 mother-tongue and bi/tri-lingual speakers, as well as several second/third-language speakers. It is widely used as a language of trade and commerce. Torres Strait Creole has six main dialects: Papuan, Western-Central, TI, Malay, Eastern, and Cape York. Its main characteristics show that it is a Pacific Pidgin, but the future in X [i] go VERB aligns it with Atlantic Creoles. Related languages are Pijin of the Solomon Islands, Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea, and Bislama of Vanuatu. The other creoles of Australia are more distantly related, being descendants of the Pidgin English that developed in and around Sydney after the colonisation of Australia.

Torres Strait Islanders ethnic group

Torres Strait Islanders ( ) are the indigenous people of the Torres Strait Islands, part of Queensland, Australia. They are distinct from the Aboriginal people of the rest of Australia, and are generally referred to separately. There are also two Torres Strait Islander communities on the nearby coast of the mainland at Bamaga and Seisia.

Murray Island, Queensland locality in Queensland, Australia

Murray Island, also called Mer in the native Meriam language, is a small island of volcanic origin, the most easterly inhabited island of the Torres Strait Islands archipelago, just north of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is populated by the Melanesian Meriam people, which has a population of around 485 as of 2006 census. The Murray Group comprises three islands: Murray Island (Mer), Dauar Island (Dauar) and Waier Island (Waier).

Kalaw Lagaw Ya language

Kalau Lagau Ya, Kalaw Lagaw Ya, Kala Lagaw Ya([kala laɡau ja]), or the Western Torres Strait language, is the language indigenous to the central and western Torres Strait Islands, Queensland, Australia. On some islands, it has now largely been replaced by Torres Strait Creole.

Yankunytjatjara is an Australian Aboriginal language. It is one of the Wati languages, belonging to the large Pama–Nyungan family. It is one of the many varieties of the Western Desert Language, all of which are mutually intelligible.

Kriol is an English-based creole language that developed from a pidgin used initially in the region of Sydney and Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia in the early days of European colonisation. Later, it moved west and north. The pidgin died out in most parts of the country, except in the Northern Territory, where the contact between European settlers, Chinese and other Asians and the Indigenous Australians in the northern regions has maintained a vibrant use of the language, spoken by about 30,000 people. Despite its similarities to English in vocabulary, it has a distinct syntactic structure and grammar and is a language in its own right.

Garadjari is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken by the Karajarri people.

Meriam or the Eastern Torres Strait language is the language of the people of the small islands of Mer, Waier and Dauar, Erub, and Ugar in the eastern Torres Strait, Queensland, Australia. In the Western Torres Strait language, Kalaw Lagaw Ya, it is called Mœyam or Mœyamau Ya. It is the only Papuan language in Australian territory.

Prince of Wales Island (Queensland) island in Australia

The Prince of Wales Island is an island of the Torres Strait Islands archipelago at the tip of Cape York Peninsula within the Endeavour Strait of Torres Strait in Queensland, Australia. The island is situated approximately 20 km (12 mi) north of Muttee Heads which is adjacent to Bamaga and south of Thursday Island.

Yam Island (Queensland) island

Yam Island, called Yama or Iama in the Kulkalgau Ya language or Turtle-backed Island in English, is an island of the Bourke Isles group of the Torres Strait Islands, located in the Tancred Passage of the Torres Strait in Queensland, Australia. The island is situated approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of Thursday Island and measures about 2 square kilometres (0.77 sq mi).

The Ngarinyin language (Ungarinjin), or Eastern Worrorran, is a moribund Australian Aboriginal language of Western Australia. With less than one hundred living speakers, Ngarinyin is considered a critically endangered language, though there are efforts being made to documenting speech and grammar structures before it becomes extinct, including the specifics on the terms of the kinship system of the language.

Wambaya is a Non-Pama-Nyungan West Barkly Australian language of the Mirndi language group that is spoken in the Barkly Tableland of the Northern Territory, Australia. Wambaya and the other members of the West Barkly languages are somewhat unusual in that they are suffixing languages, unlike most Non-Pama-Nyungan languages which are prefixing.

There are three languages spoken in the Torres Strait Islands, two indigenous languages and an English-based creole. The indigenous language spoken mainly in the western and central islands is Kalaw Lagaw Ya: a language related to the Pama–Nyungan languages of the Australian mainland. The other indigenous language spoken mainly in the eastern islands is Meriam Mir: a member of the Trans-Fly languages spoken on the nearby south coast of New Guinea and the only Papuan language native to Australia. Both languages are agglutinative, however Kalaw Lagaw Ya appears to be undergoing a transition into a declensional language while Meriam Mìr is more clearly agglutinative. Yumplatok, the third language, is a non-typical Pacific English Creole and is the main language of communication on the islands.

Gooniyandi is an Australian Aboriginal language now spoken by about 100 people, most of whom live in or near Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia. Gooniyandi is an endangered language as it is not being passed on to children, who instead grow up speaking Kriol.

Nunggubuyu or Wubuy is an Australian Aboriginal language, the traditional language of the Nunggubuyu people. It is the primary traditional language spoken in the community of Numbulwar in the Northern Territory. The language is classified as severely endangered by UNESCO, with only 272 speakers according to the 2016 census. Most children in Numbulwar can understand Nunggubuyu when spoken to, but cannot speak it themselves, having to reply in Kriol. To counter this, starting in 1990, the community has been embarking on a revitalisation programme for the language by bringing in elders to teach it to children at the local school.

Gurindji Kriol is a mixed language which is spoken by Gurindji people in the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory (Australia). It is mostly spoken at Kalkaringi and Daguragu which are Aboriginal communities located on the traditional lands of the Gurindji. Related mixed varieties are spoken to the north by Ngarinyman and Bilinarra people at Yarralin and Pigeon Hole. These varieties are similar to Gurindji Kriol, but draw on Ngarinyman and Bilinarra which are closely related to Gurindji.

Jurruru is an extinct Australian Aboriginal language formerly spoken in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Its name has also been spelt Chooraroo, Choororoo, Churoro, Djuroro, Djururo, Djurruru, Dyururu, Jururu, Thuraru, Tjororo, Tjuroro, Tjururo, and Tjururu.

Nicholas Thieberger is an Australian linguist and an ARC Future Fellow in the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. He helped to establish the PARADISEC archive in 2003 and currently serves as its Director. Thieberger is also the Editor of Language Documentation & Conservation, an academic journal which focuses on language documentation and conservation.

Gurindji is a Pama–Nyungan language spoken by the Gurindji and Ngarinyman people in the Northern Territory, Australia. The language of the Gurindji is highly endangered, with about 592 speakers remaining and only 175 of those speakers fully understanding the language. There are in addition about 60 speakers of Ngarinyman dialect. Gurindji Kriol is a mixed language that derives from the Gurindji language.

References

Citations

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  2. Moore, Bruce. "The Vocabulary Of Australian English" (PDF). National Museum of Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  3. "The Macquarie Dictionary", Fourth Edition. The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, 2005.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. "A mission to save indigenous languages". Australian Geographic. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  6. 1 2 "National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2005". Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
  7. Australian Bureau of Statistics (4 May 2010). "4713.0 – Population Characteristics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006". Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  8. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2007). "20680-Language Spoken at Home (full classification list) by Sex – Australia". 2006 Census Tables : Australia. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  9. https://www.northernstar.com.au/news/turnbull-government-may-introduce-english-test-for/3441552/
  10. https://www.northernstar.com.au/news/turnbull-government-may-introduce-english-test-for/3441552/
  11. McConvell, P. & N.Thieberger. 2001. State of Indigenous Language Report. http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2001/publications/technical/indigenous-languages.html
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

Sources