Chronically Drunk First Settlers Caused Aussie Accent, Professor Says

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An Australian professor is crediting heavy and habitual use of alcohol by colonial settlers for the development of the awesome Aussie accent.

Dean Frenkel, a professor of public speaking and communications at Victoria University in Melbourne, makes the argument in The Age.

“The Australian alphabet cocktail was spiked by alcohol,” Frenkel writes in the piece from earlier this week. “Our forefathers regularly got drunk together and through their frequent interactions unknowingly added an alcoholic slur to our national speech patterns. For the past two centuries, from generation to generation, drunken Aussie-speak continues to be taught by sober parents to their children.”

The professor also credits a solid dollop of culture clash for the way Australians speak English. The Australian dialect blends the way English people, Irish people, German people and Aboriginal people spoke to each other back in the day — when they were good and wasted.

Frenkel is not happy about the way Australians speak English. He believes that his fellow countrymen don’t articulate syllables well enough. They use “d” when the sound should be “t,” for example, add an “o” sound when it clearly shouldn’t be there (e.g., “noight” instead of “night”) and sometime ignore the letter “l” altogether (e.g., “Austraya”).

“Poor communication is evident among all sectors of Australian society and the annual cost to Australia may amount to billions of dollars,” Frenkel warns, because Australians speak poorly and don’t receive enough education in public speaking.

Frenkel praises the U.S. education system for emphasizing rhetoric and for generally training students to communicate orally at a high level — a level higher, at any rate, than what is standard in Australia.

He also glorifies Aboriginal culture for its use of rhetoric “to teach essential survival information.” “In fact rhetoric has much in common with didgeridoo and boomerangs,” the rhetoric professor writes.

A didgeridoo is a really long wind instrument used by indigenous Australians of northern Australia.

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