An intonational change in progress in Australian English

Gregory Guy, Barbara Horvath, Julia Vonwiller, Elaine Daisley, Inge Rogers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Many speakers the current Australian English often use a high-rising intonation in statements. This usage, which has been termed Australian Questioning Intonation (AQI), has a nonpropositional, interactive meaning (checking for listener comprehension) and interacts with the turn-taking mechanism the conversation. A quantitative study the the use the AQI in Sydney reveals that it has the social distribution characteristic the a language change in progress: higher rates the usage among working-class speakers, teenagers, and women. Real time data confirm this, showing that the form was almost nonexistent in this speech community two decades earlier. The social motivations the this innovation are examined in terms the local identity and the entry the new ethnic groups into the community, and possible linguistic sources are discussed. The utility the quantitative methods in studying meaningful linguistic variables is demonstrated. (Australian English, language change in progress, intonation, sociolinguistic variation, social class, social motivation).

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)23-51
    Number of pages29
    JournalLanguage in Society
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1986

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Linguistics and Language


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