, pub-6663105814926378, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Held Back by Our Lazy Tongues 4289

Held Back by Our Lazy Tongues

Held Back by Our Lazy Tongues

Australia has “a national speech impediment,” said Dean Frenkel. I’m not talking about our accent, a charming mishmash of English, Irish, Scottish, German, and other regional accents. Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter of TV fame, had a rugged accent but was an excellent communicator, and his many foreign viewers could follow him easily. And, at its best, the Australian accent can be musical, like the way the actor Geoffrey Rush speaks. But it is rarely at its best. “Like slurring drunks, most sober Australians pickle their speech with lazy, restricted, and heavy articulation.” Our politicians
are some of the worst offenders. They “can’t even pronounce basic words” like “Australia,” which they slur into “Astraya,” or “manufacturing,” which comes out “mannerfactring.” This sloppy diction is a legacy of the colonial era, when “a rebellious speech manner, unclear pronunciation, and an Aussie accent asserted Australian identity against British imperial clarity.” Australians were suspicious of anyone who spoke too well—and we still are. But times have changed, and if Australia  is to succeed in the global marketplace, we must be able to communicate clearly and effectively. As it
is now, to Brits and Americans, we sound like “the slow kid in the world classroom.”

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