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Facts About Australia Languages

Facts About Australia Languages
torres strait island language
(Last Updated On: October 24, 2023)

Language is the key marker for an ethnic group. It allows us to communicate and share our values and beliefs of a particular culture and builds up society. The people of a country are represented by the language they speak. But do you know that there is a country which has no official language? Well, the question may get you curious but don’t worry, we are here to answer it! Have you ever heard about the Australian language?

With a population of more than 25 million, it’s no surprise that Australia is home to a diverse collection of languages. Although there is no official language of this country, the majority of the people speak English. Some of the people speak other indigenous languages. Different communities use different language mediums to interact. You must be curious to figure out the national language of these indigenous people.

If you are a linguist willing to discover the Australian language, then you’re at the right place! This article will explain all the languages that people speak in Australia. So, let’s start!

How Many Languages Are Spoken in Australia?

Australia is a linguistically and culturally diverse country with influences from more than 160 languages. But collectively, Australians have more than 200 spoke languages. Out of all the spoken languages, only 40 languages are commonly used. In the 2011 census, about 78.6% of Australians speak English at home.

The Australian population at the 2016 census was 23.4 million people, with one in five Australians now speaking a language other than English at home.

languages spoken in australia
australia language

In the past, there were hundreds of Aboriginal languages, but many of them have become extinct since 1950, and most surviving lingoes have very few speakers. The main reason behind the eradication of Aboriginal lingoes is the Early European settlement in Australia. The immigrant patterns of the indigenous people have changed drastically along with the culture.

Languages of Australia

Since no language has official status in Australia, it is hard to predict the actual mother tongue of this country. But according to an estimation, the top five list of languages spoken by the indigenous people of Australia includes Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%), and Italian (1.2%). A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual.

The primary dialect in Australia is General Australian or Australian English language which differs in some ways from American and U.K. English in terms of spelling and grammar. According to the 2011 analysis, it indicates that Australians speak English only as compared to non-English speakers. Overall, about 76.8% of people speak English only while 18.2% are non-English speakers.

Apart from the common languages, some tongues are emerging with time in the culture. These include Punjabi, Filipino/Tagalog, and Arabic. Sydney, which is the most multicultural city of Australia estimates that about 30% population does not speak English at home. Sydney and Melbourne house more than 65% of non-English migrants who in general speak some 240 foreign languages.

Many migrants use their mother tongue and therefore they have smattering English. As a result, about 1 million indigenous people cannot speak the dominant language i.e. English which is a huge number especially in a country of about 20 million people out of which 15% (3 million) residents speak a second language at home. This information will enable you to understand the importance of each language. Checkout our latest blogpost about where did Spanish language originate!

Aboriginal Languages

Australian Aboriginal community has the longest cultural history that dates back to more than 60,000 years. In 1788, when the first European Fleet arrived in Australia, there were only 250 indigenous languages spoken by indigenous people. All of these lingoes have origin and experience evolution from a single-family consisting of about 700 dialects.

Out of those 250, only 20 are the common ones which people speak. Teachers teach these languages in schools regularly. One of the most common aboriginal languages is Kriol which contains many English words with different meanings and is usually spelled in a phonetic style. Moreover, there is no one Aboriginal person who is not affected by the stolen generations.

Tasmania or Palawa Languages 

Tasmania languages are also the indigenous lingoes of Tasmania Island and they are the indigenous language speakers. Because of the short wordlist, it has only five to six tongues. According to some records, understanding six languages was not easy to understand but a lingua franca is necessary sometimes.

aboriginal languages
tasmania language

But there is no clarity about which lingua franca it would be including Creole, Koinem, Pidgin, or a mixed language. From history, the last records of this tongue as a means of communication were found in the 1830s. The last full-blooded Tasmanian died in 1888.

The last Tasmanian speaker died in 1905. Today Tasmanian Aborigines speak English. Creoles are pidgin languages that develop as the primary language of a community. Apart from all of this, there are a lot of minority languages as well.

Torres Strait Island Language 

Torres Strait Island language that has the most speakers in Australia today include Upper Arrernte which people of Arrernte speak belonging to the Northern Territory. There are about 4500 native speakers, Kalaw Lagaw Ya spoken by the Torres Strait Islanders, now mostly replaced by Torres Strait Creole. There are about 1000 native speakers of this tongue.

Tiwi has spoken by the Tiwi of Northern Coast having 2000 native speakers. In the Northwest Territory, Warlpiri people speak Warlpiri language. About 2,300 native speakers remain and it’s one of the largest remaining aboriginal Australian languages. While in the Walmajarri and related people of Western Australia, usually people speak Walmajarri. Less than 300 native speakers are remaining.

In the desert areas of South Australia, about 7,400 people speak dialect cluster languages of Western Desert. Around 13% of Indigenous people belong to Western Australia and 10% in South Australia.

Facts About Australian Languages

Australian languages own many facts and factors. Some of them are given below:

  • The heavy influence of the Aboriginal language is a key fact in Australia. The Australian National Dictionary in 2016 records reveals that about 500 regular words are from the Aus E vocabulary. These words are common to use in our daily life to describe the national flora and fauna, certain geographical locations, and especially the colonial settlements. Pronunciation is very prominent in this lingo.
  • The Irish touch is also crucial. One of the earliest settlers in the land, the Irish population today counts up to 70,000. And the most prominent effect of Irish linguistics over AUS E is that people speak it in style ‘Broad Australian’ accent.
  • The native speakers use a lot of consonants while speaking. There’s a fundamental style that these speakers adopt. British or American settler does not speak it but native Australian does.
  • Although Australian languages are consistent they are different. Language scholars around the world acknowledge Aus E as the most regionally homogenous dialect spoken in the world. However, there does exist a fine-line difference between the accents residents speak. And this is not because of the geographical separation – but for the class difference.
  • Inclination towards abbreviations is one feature that is undergoing changes that are essential for the ‘cool’ and ‘leisurely’ attitude of the Aussies. As proclaim demographic experts, the people of Australia tend to communicate by saying less and expressing more emotionally. And this, in effect has given rise to a long list of abbreviations used in daily livelihood at every spectrum- ranging from government offices, corporate sectors, peer groups, etc.
Facts about Australia language

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