Attitudes, Accents and Advice for the Holidays

Attitudes, Accents and Advice for the Holidays

This article has been written by Liam McAlary, a Years 7 – 12, VCE Legal Studies and VCE English Language Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Liam then please check out his page here.

Hey guys, here is my article for July. This article will cover a couple of things related to unit 4 Area of Study 1, being attitudes to different varieties of Australian English (which are useful for your essays), and a very brief overview of the Australian accent. Finally, I will briefly discuss the mid-year school holidays.

Firstly, the attitudes towards varieties of Australian English. The attitudes towards Australian English are unlikely to be an essay topic in their own right (however it is not impossible), although they are something that students can use to strengthen their arguments, such as those related to how acceptable variations are in certain contexts (see question 8 of the 2016 as an example). Additionally, they may also pop up as a supplementary or secondary party of a question, which would then require you to address them.

The two main attitudes towards language that require discussion for the purposes of this course (by that I mean the two that are expressly mentioned on the study design), are prescriptivism and descriptivism.  Prescriptivists are concerned with the use of language that is, “right,” “proper,” or, “correct.” They believe that these rules are inflexible, and they tend to not be particularly tolerant to variations of language. Conversely, descriptivists are more concerned with the language that people do use, as opposed to what they should use. Descriptivists tend to be more tolerant to variation from the Standard and do not judge people for using variations. Descriptivism can be summed up with a simple sentence. “Non-Standard does not mean substandard.”

Please note that no matter how much of a descriptivist your teacher is, they will mark your writing as a prescriptivist.

Examples of prescriptivism and descriptivism are prevalent in the media, although prescriptivism is especially prominent. This article is one such example of prescriptivism in the media:

This article is old (from 2014) so it is not great as an example to actually quote in an essay, however it does give a very good demonstration of a prescriptivist attitude towards language. Some of the things worth noting in this article are how the writer discusses how Steve Irwin’s manner of speaking contained, ‘imperfections,’ and describing examples of connected speech processes as being, “speech mistakes.” Moreover, the writer also says that the standard of written communication is, “unacceptably low,” and that Australia has a national, “speech impediment.”

Secondly, I will now very briefly discuss the Australian accent. There is a continuum of accents, with the broad Australian accent at one end, the cultivated accent at the other, and the general Australian accent (which 90% of Australians speak with) in between. The broad accent places a heavy emphasis on many of the, “classic,” features of the Australian accent, whereas the cultivated accent has a closer resemblance to the British accent (the cultivated accent is exceptionally rare nowadays).

Moreover, the Australian accent is also a significant marker of Australian national identity, and in the Sounds of Aus documentary (which I’m certain you will have watched or will watch very soon), Dr Bruce Moore stated that the accent, “defines Australian language and identity.” I could go into much more detail, but I have a whole article devoted to the accent already, which can be found here:

Finally, the school holidays (which will have started by the time you are reading this). These school holidays are a bit different from the others as you are just starting to move into unit 4. My advice would be to use these holidays to revise over unit 3 and to start looking at exam style questions on unit 3 content. Further, I would also try and use these holidays to try and get useful yet time consuming tasks out of the way, making your notes for example (especially for subjects such as legal studies or business management). If you can get a lot of these out of the way, it gives you a good opportunity to use term 3 to do more and more practice questions, to better prepare you for SACs and exams. Of course, it is also important to make the most of the break and to recharge your batteries, as term 3 is exceptionally demanding.

Anyway, that’s all for now and I hope you have found this article useful.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: Discussion of Scott Morrison’s election announcement.An Overview of Formal Language and Preparing for your first English Language SAC.


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Attitudes, Accents and Advice for the Holidays