Western Australian English

Western Australian English is the collective name given to the variety or varieties of English spoken in the Australian state of Western Australia (WA).


Some of the vocabulary used in Western Australia is unique, within both Australia and the wider world.[1][2]

Several terms of British origin have survived which are rarely used in other parts of Australia. One example is verge, meaning the area between a road and a paved footpath, which is known by the term nature strip in the rest of Australia. Some words have been shortened, for example, the term bathers is commonly used in place of bathing suit or togs as used in other parts of Australia. Some original terms have also been invented in WA, and have since found their way into common usage. An example of this is the term home open, describing a house on the market which is open for public inspection.[3]

There are also many unique, invented slang words, such as ding, referring to an Australian immigrant of Italian descent (this word is often considered derogatory and/or offensive), or munted, referring to an object which is misshaped or unsightly. A 285-millilitre (10.0 imp fl oz; 9.6 US fl oz) glass of beer in Western Australia is referred to as a middy.

Some pronunciations also differ from those used in the rest of Australia. For example, people from WA tend to pronounce loquat with a "k" sound (/ˈloʊkət/) instead of the "kw" (/ˈloʊkwɒt/ or /ˈloʊkwət/) used elsewhere.

Many words from the Aboriginal language have found their way into Western Australian English. Examples include gidgee (or gidgie), a Noongar word for spear, as used in modern spear fishing; and gilgie (or jilgie), the Noongar name for a small freshwater crayfish of the South West. Another word of likely Aboriginal origin is boondy (pronounced with ʊ, like the vowel in bull), which means a rock, boulder, or small stone.[4] Among Western Australians, the term sand-boondy or more commonly boondy is well-recognised as referring to a small lump of sand (with the granules stuck together), often thrown at one another by children in the playground.

Other Aboriginal words that have been included more widely into relatively common regional Western Australian parlance include "wongi" (talk) and "milli-milli" (paper).


Most Western Australians speak with either a general Australian accent or a broad Australian accent. Those who grew up in suburban Perth typically speak with a general Australian accent, and those from regional areas ("from the country") speak with a broad accent.

Centring diphthongs

Centring diphthongs are the vowels that occur in words like ear, beard, air and sheer. In Western Australia, there is a tendency for centering diphthongs to be pronounced as full diphthongs. Those in the eastern states will tend to pronounce "fear" and "beer" without any jaw movement, while Western Australians tend pronounce them more like "fe-ah" and "be-ah", respectively.[5][6]


As also found in South Australian English, the tendency for some /l/ sounds to become vowels (/l/ vocalisation) is more common than other states. "Hurled", for example, in Western Australia has a vocalised /l/, leading to the pronunciation "herwd", whereas in other states the /l/ is pronounced as a consonant. The "l" is vocalised; for example, "milk" sounds like "miuwk" and "hill" sounds like "hiw".

See also


  1. Maureen Brooks and Joan Ritchie, Words from the West: A Glossary of Western Australian Terms. Oxford University Press (1994). ISBN 0-19-553628-2
  2. Rhonda Oliver, Graham McKay and Judith Rochecouste, "Lexical Variation among Western Australian Primary School Children", Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 22, no. 2 (1 October 2002) pp. 207 - 229.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  4. Bruce Moore (2008). "Speaking Our Language: The Story of Australian English" (PDF). Oup.com.au. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  5. "regional accents | Australian Voices". Clas.mq.edu.au. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  6. "Strine is feeling the strain - National". Smh.com.au. 2005-01-29. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
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