A voice expert reveals the mystery behind the Australian accent

A voice expert reveals the mystery behind the Australian accent

The Aussie accent can be shocking at the best of times, even to people who’ve spoken it all their lives, but most would struggle to identify what makes it so distinct from other English language accents.

Voice coach Amy Hume, who teaches at the University of Melbourne, has revealed the crucial quirks that form the backbone of the Australian accent and why American actors find it so hard to try it.

It all depends on how we pronounce the letter R and how it changes depending on the words we use, she told news.com.au.

The Australian accent is non-rhotic, which means that we only pronounce the letter R when it is followed by a vowel, whereas in rhotic accents like Irish or American, it is pronounced whenever ‘she appears.

She gave the example of the pronunciation of “over the river” – Australians wouldn’t pronounce the “R” at the end of words the same way Americans would.

They would, however, do it at the end of “over” if the phrase became “over on the river”.

Another key part of the Aussie accent – and something most Australians don’t even realize they’re doing – is the use of the “intrusive R”.

“People elsewhere will hear it and say, ‘You just said an R where there’s no R’, but we here don’t tend to hear it,” Ms Hume said.

“So that can be a bit of a giveaway for an actor who has to do an Australian accent. Sometimes you’ll think, ‘They didn’t quite get it’, and that might be one of the things we notice. .

The intrusive R normally appears in words with an “aw” sound, usually when there is no R in the word at all and when the following sound is a vowel.

For example, when “draw” is pronounced on its own there is no R sound at the end, but in “drawing” most Aussies would weave in an R before the “ing”.

“The vowels are shaped by the position of the speaker’s tongue in their mouth, so the tongue muscles tone up according to your accent. So the muscles of our tongues are quite low in the mouth, so all of our vowels are quite far in the mouth,” Ms. Hume said.

Americans, on the other hand, have a raised accent that uses more of the front of the face and more active lips and cheeks, while Australians stay in comparison and have less lip movement.

Ms Hume, who has 10 years of voice coaching experience, explained the puzzling reason why the Australian accent differed from American and New Zealand accents, linking it to our early settlers.

She said Irish, Scottish and English accents merged to create a new accent – the Australian accent – in the late 1700s.

During this period, English accents had become non-rhotic, meaning they did not pronounce Rs.

The English settlers who found themselves in America, however, belonged to a period when accents were rhotic, meaning they pronounced their Rs.

“That’s why there’s rhoticity in American accents,” Ms. Hume said.

The New Zealand accent, on the other hand, came largely from the large influx of Scottish settlers into the country, which explains the many parallels between Scottish and Kiwi accents.

Ms Hume also pointed to a particular trend among Australians aged 25 and under.

The pronunciation of ‘yuh’ sounds, for example in ‘news’, was changing to sound more like ‘noos’ due to the heavy consumption of American media.

A voice expert reveals the mystery behind the Australian accent

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