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Alcohol blamed for ‘lazy’ Aussie accent

An “alcoholic slur” sustained through the heavy drinking of early settlers in Australia is the cause of the country’s accent, a communication expert has claimed.

Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee, whose character is frequently held up as a classic Australian stereotype

The claims, made by Dean Frenkel, a lecturer in public speaking and communications at Victoria University, reduce the distinctive Australian accent to merely a drunken slur.

While most experts agree that the Australian accent developed through a mixing of dialects of early settlers, whose residents included convicts and settlers from across Britain and Ireland, this latest theory put alcohol at the forefront of its cause.

“Our forefathers regularly got drunk together and through their frequent interactions unknowingly added an alcoholic slur to our national speech patterns”, Frenkel wrote in a piece for The Age. “For the past two centuries, from generation to generation, drunken Aussie-speak continues to be taught by sober parents to their children.”

Frenkel said poor communication was “not related to class” but was evident among all sectors of Australian society.

“The average Australian speaks to just two thirds capacity – with one third of our articulator muscles always sedentary as if lying on the couch; and that’s just concerning articulation,” he wrote.

“Missing consonants can include missing ‘t’s (impordant), ‘l’s (Austraya) and ‘s’s (yesh), while many of our vowels are lazily transformed into other vowels, especially ‘a’s to ‘e’s (stending) and ‘i’s (New South Wyles), and ‘i’s to ‘oi’s (noight).”

Appealing to Australian schools to teach verbal expression and delivery so that Australian might become a “cleverer country”, Frenkel claimed that the Australian drawl had cost the country billions of dollars.

“It all starts with our education curriculum”, said Frenkel. “Basic education commonly refers to the three “R”s – reading, writing and arithmetic. But there is a missing “R” and a gaping hole in the Australian education system – the fourth “R”, rhetoric. If we all received communication training, Australia would become a cleverer country.”

The academic’s comments were met with equal praise and incredulity from readers, including Australians and those from other countries.

One Indian national responded: “Fully agree with Dean Frenkel — Australians have a serious speech impediment. As someone born in India, left India at the age of 24, spent 10 years in America and then moved to Australia, my spoken English is far more clear and much easier to understand than that of a vast majority of Australians — several people have told me so (including Australians).”

Another dismissed his article as “silly and elitist”.

“Communication is all about understanding. If we Australians can understand each then that’s good enough. Our regional differences are far less than the differences found within the UK and the USA. I have a German friend who can’t understand the German that those who live Bavaria speak.”

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