It's official: there are three different types of Australian accents.

There is nothing more iconic than a thick Australian accent; the kind that elicits fond memories of Russell Coight.

But it’s not just Coight’s broad “‘ow ya gawen?” that you hear in everyday life (unfortunately).

There are countless variations of the Australian accent that only seem to be evolving. Our accents might be ever-changing, but linguists Arthur Delbridge and A.G. Mitchell still managed to sort them into the three categories in 1965: broad, general and cultivated.

These classifications were explained using points of reference such as:

Broad: The thick Aussie drawl (generally associated with the working class)

General: The most commonly heard English.

Cultivated: The “prestige” accent marked by a heavier adoption of the British accent.

Russell Coight in All Aussie Adventures. (Source: Network 10)

In order to understand this more clearly, one could use three recognised Australians as a point of reference.

Broad: Pauline Hanson.

General: Julia Gillard.

Cultivated: Cate Blanchett.

The Australian Journal of Linguistics put out a paper in 1997 that sought to provide greater clarity between how to classify the broad, general and cultivated accents.

Researchers analysed the vowel sounds of a variety of speakers in order to determine which features corresponded with each category of accent.

Speaking of Australia, what about that lamb ad? Agree? Disagree? (Post continues after audio.)


Dialectblog provided an example that helps explain this with the differing pronunciation of the word "buy".

A cultivated speaker would say buy with a higher vowel sound so it would mimic "bi".

A broad speaker's "buy" would sound more like an American's pronunciation of "boy". (I strongly recommend you put on an American accent to say "boy" in order to understand this.)

Many contemporary academics believe there has been a reduction in broad-accented speakers in recent times.

Crocodile Dundee undoubtedly spoke with a "broad" accent.

Academics David Blair and Peter Collins speculated in 2001 the reduction was the result of individuals actively attempting to escape the "working class - low brow" social stigma attached to broad-accented-speakers.

It was also speculated that ethnic speakers were similarly disassociating themselves from the trappings of the "low prestige" accents of their parents by adopting the "general" accent.

It seems a shame to think we're losing one of the most iconic accents, but as we've previously discussed — who's to say the "general" accent won't develop into something even better?