The penal settlements.
The first settlements were penal colonies and until 1868, when transportation ceased, a vocabulary similar to that in a slave society described the life of the convicts. A major distinction was maintained between bond and free, as in free emigrant, free native, free labourer, free servant, and the distinction between free and freed. The settlements were populated in part by convicts and the attendant military forces, in part by free settlers. Though convicts who had served their sentences or obtained pardons (known from 1822 as emancipists) became free in their own eyes and those of the law, they often had difficulty escaping the stigma of servitude and obtained only a measure of freedom, being known by the exclusives or exclusionists as free convicts or freed men.

Concomitantly, the land was explored and opened up for settlement and the stock-raising industry was developing. Squatters (stock-raisers or graziers occupying large tracts of Crown land under lease or licence) moved inland from the limits of location (the frontier of settlement) into the back country or back of beyond in search of land suitable for runs (tracts of grazing land) or stations (ranches). They looked for open land (free from forest or undergrowth), seeking open forest or open plains, and using words like brush (dense natural vegetation), bush (the distinctive Australian natural vegetation), mallee or mulga (forms of natural vegetation giving their name to their habitat), and scrub (generally, poor vegetation) to describe features of an unfamiliar environment. The stock industry employed overseers or superintendents (both convict terms), stockmen, and rouseabouts (general hands). Drovers travelled stock long distances overland, the original overlanders driving stock from New South Wales to South Australia. The importance of sheep in opening up the country and establishing a frontier society was such that the occupational vocabularies of droving and shearing figure largely in Australian literature.

The goldfields.
Gold was discovered in the 1850s, leading to movement between the Californian, Australian, and New Zealand goldfields. Rushes (first used of the sudden escape of a number of convicts and then of the sudden movement of a number of miners to a particular place or goldfield) followed when a prospector (gold-finder, gold-hunter, gold-seeker) made a find and established a claim. A number of mining terms originated in Australia, but many are shared with other varieties of English, and the importance of the discovery of gold, and of the rushes that followed, lies in the mobility it encouraged and the effect of this on the homogeneity of the accent.

A growing sense of national identity was fostered by involvement in the First World War. The line between formal and informal usage is perhaps less rigidly drawn in Australia than elsewhere, colloquialisms being more generally admissible than in Britain. In informal usage, the suffixes -ie or -y and -o or -oh are freely attached to short base words (roughie a trick, tinnie a can of beer, bottle-oh a bottle merchant, plonko an addict of plonk or cheap wine, smoko a work break) and clippings (Aussie an Australian, arvo an afternoon, barbie a barbecue, Chrissy Christmas, compo workers’ compensation, derro a derelict or down-and-out, reffo a refugee).

Interesting News

Pidgin Language


Pidgins are “on-the-spot” languages that develop when people with no common language come into contact with each other. Nobody speaks a pidgin as their first language. Usually a pidgin language is a blend of the vocabulary of one major language with the grammar of one or more other languages. The major languages are usually the languages of the former major colonial powers, such as EnglishFrench, and Portuguese. For example, the establishment of plantation economies in the Caribbean, with large groups of slaves from different language backgrounds who came from West Africa, gave rise to a number of pidgins based on EnglishFrenchSpanishDutch, and Portuguese. However, there are also pidgins spoken in parts of Africa, South America, and southeast Asia that are based on languages other than those of the colonial powers. A good example of a non-European pidgin is the Chinook Jargon that was once used by American Indians and European traders in the Pacific Northwest.

The term pidgin has nothing to do with birds. The word, first attested in print in 1850, is thought to be the Chinese mispronunciation of the English word business. There are other theories about the origin of the term.

Because of their limited function, pidgin languages usually do not last very long, rarely more than several decades. They disappear when the reason for communication diminishes, as communities either move apart, one community learns the language of the other, or both communities learn a common language (usually the official language of the country). For instance, Pidgin Russian spoken in Manchuria disappeared when Russian settlers left China after World War II. The same is true of Pidgin French which disappeared from Vietnam after the French left the country. However, this is not always the case. Chinese Pidgin English (Chinglish), developed in the 17th century in Canton (Guandong), China,and survived for almost three centuries. Its use spread from master-servant relationships to those between English and Chinese traders and bureaucrats. It continued in use until about the end of the 19th century, when the Chinese started to switch to standard English.