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What does the “Canberra accent” sound like?

By richiedt 8 May 2015 28

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Yes folks. Apparently it’s a thing so I’m very interested in everyone’s thoughts.

What does the “Canberra Accent” sound like.

My feeling?

It’s a little bit toff with a good measure of Kambah twang thrown in. Vowels are sounded out quite roundly – like our roundabouts.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

If you want to join in the discussion on Twitter, please use #CanberraAccent.

Cheers

@RichardTuffin


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28 Responses to
What does the “Canberra accent” sound like?
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switch 9:40 am 22 May 15

Crazed_Loner said :

When I was in the US recently, someone asked me if I was from New Zealand. Oh, the Horror!

C’mon. They could’ve asked if you were from Tasmania.

As pointed out above, Americans have NFI about accents.

Crazed_Loner 10:43 pm 21 May 15

When I was in the US recently, someone asked me if I was from New Zealand. Oh, the Horror!

shellcase 2:42 pm 14 May 15

In my many daily travels around the ACT the only accent I notice is the “Briddish” thing you get with some Foreign Affairs, National Library or ANU types. My own is of Sydney, Southern Highlands and ACT origins; figure that one out.
Whenever away from the ACT I don’t say I’m from Canberra because I’m not, I’m from Gungahlin. That gets ’em scratching their heads.

ChrisinTurner 2:40 pm 14 May 15

You know they are from Canberra when you try to strike up a conversation and they first ask you “Is this an operational matter”.

Russ 5:57 pm 13 May 15

I had a guy around recently to quote on some work – he had some kind of British accent. About halfway into the visit, apropos of nothing, he asks “so, which part of the South of England are you from?” I had to admit I was born in Watson and had no English relatives whatsoever. I felt oddly self-conscious about my accent for the rest of the visit.

Evilomlap 3:31 pm 13 May 15

arescarti42 said :

Rollersk8r said :

People always picked me as British over Australian while in Canada and USA too, which is a common mistake, I guess?

I can’t comment on Canadians, but based on my experience living there, Americans are useless at identifying accents.

I even had one ask if I was Irish based on my accent.

I’d have to agree. I had the same thing when in the US. Almost everyone I spoke to asked me if I was from England. And, bizarrely, someone even said I sounded like I was from Virginia. That was a new one…

JimCharles 8:46 pm 12 May 15

switch said :

JimCharles said :

The remarkable AQI is fascinating and very confusing to observing foreigners, especially when Canberrans are doing it to each other.

WTF sort of TLA is AQI? Air Quality Index?

Australian Question Intonation.

switch 9:33 am 12 May 15

JimCharles said :

The remarkable AQI is fascinating and very confusing to observing foreigners, especially when Canberrans are doing it to each other.

WTF sort of TLA is AQI? Air Quality Index?

JimCharles 9:42 pm 11 May 15

I like the Queanbeyan accent just because it’s monotone and understated, very down to earth and genuine. Similar inflection to the UK, without the strong regional variations. Just say it like it is and don’t make a bloody fuss. Less is more.

Canberra is totally different, very uppy and singy. You don’t need to watch The Sound Of Music to hear Julie Andrews, just nip into any coffee shop and listen to the women greet each other in the morning.
The remarkable AQI is fascinating and very confusing to observing foreigners, especially when Canberrans are doing it to each other.
Somebody asks a question. The respondent answers with a statement, but makes it sound like another question. Originator replies, it sounds like another question, but it’s not, it’s just a normal conversation. They get higher and higher in pitch, matching and raising the stakes each time.
I can sit there for ages just happily eavesdropping, it’s like watching a game of tennis wondering which one will give it up first.
The most annoying thing is that it’s highly addictive and if enough people do it to you, you end up doing it back to them, even though you’re trying really hard not to.

Dondon 8:14 pm 11 May 15

Sorry you born and bred Canberrans, you don’t have an accent. Stop kidding yourselves.

John Moulis 5:00 pm 11 May 15

Maya123 said :

John Moulis said :

I’ve noticed variations between Canberra and Queanbeyan. For example Canberrans call a suitcase a port, whereas Queanbeyanites call it a bag or a case. Also people in Belco say Newcassle whereas people in Tuggers call it Newcarsle. People in Woden say devon whereas people in Gungahlin call it strass. The further south you go the more Scottish the accent sounds, for example people in Banks say “a wee bit” a lot. Note: The preceding is meant to be read with a touch of sarcasm 🙂

Never, never heard a suitcase here called a port in over thirty years by a Canberran. That’s a Queensland and northern NSW thing (I know that from having lived there), so maybe the person you heard say that came from one of those areas. It’s not a Canberra word.

I thought I made clear in the last sentence that this post was satirical. I was transposing regional variations from other parts of Australia and New Zealand onto Canberra and thus attempting to be humorous. Satire and sarcasm were quite common on the old RiotACT, it seems people have forgotten about it already.

Holden Caulfield 2:59 pm 11 May 15

Rollersk8r said :

rubaiyat said :

To me it is somewhere between Patagonian Welsh and Tuvan throat singing, but it varies even within the ACT.

It is a little bit like getting a Kiwi to say “six” or a Canadian to say “about”

Get somebody from Tuggeranong to say “tram” and you can pick the Tuggers whine instantly. 😉

I think you’re on to something with the pronunciation of certain words. Everyone from Canberra calls it “Canbra”. Barely two syllables.

Whereas I know a few interstate people, who’ve lived here for ten years, who still say it like wrapping their tongue around a foreign technical term “Can-ber-RA”.

One of my pet hates from outsiders is calling us Can-berry-uns.

We’re Canberrans.

Rollersk8r 2:01 pm 11 May 15

rubaiyat said :

To me it is somewhere between Patagonian Welsh and Tuvan throat singing, but it varies even within the ACT.

It is a little bit like getting a Kiwi to say “six” or a Canadian to say “about”

Get somebody from Tuggeranong to say “tram” and you can pick the Tuggers whine instantly. 😉

I think you’re on to something with the pronunciation of certain words. Everyone from Canberra calls it “Canbra”. Barely two syllables.

Whereas I know a few interstate people, who’ve lived here for ten years, who still say it like wrapping their tongue around a foreign technical term “Can-ber-RA”.

Maya123 6:35 pm 10 May 15

John Moulis said :

I’ve noticed variations between Canberra and Queanbeyan. For example Canberrans call a suitcase a port, whereas Queanbeyanites call it a bag or a case. Also people in Belco say Newcassle whereas people in Tuggers call it Newcarsle. People in Woden say devon whereas people in Gungahlin call it strass. The further south you go the more Scottish the accent sounds, for example people in Banks say “a wee bit” a lot. Note: The preceding is meant to be read with a touch of sarcasm 🙂

Never, never heard a suitcase here called a port in over thirty years by a Canberran. That’s a Queensland and northern NSW thing (I know that from having lived there), so maybe the person you heard say that came from one of those areas. It’s not a Canberra word.

miz 8:24 pm 09 May 15

It’s a mix of Sydney and Melbourne, though Melbourne accent has noticeably morphed over the last decade or so, eg (weirdly) they now say they love in MALbourne, but pronounce the name ‘Malcolm’ as MELcolm. Maybe there are too many Kiwis there now!

John Moulis 6:58 pm 09 May 15

I’ve noticed variations between Canberra and Queanbeyan. For example Canberrans call a suitcase a port, whereas Queanbeyanites call it a bag or a case. Also people in Belco say Newcassle whereas people in Tuggers call it Newcarsle. People in Woden say devon whereas people in Gungahlin call it strass. The further south you go the more Scottish the accent sounds, for example people in Banks say “a wee bit” a lot. Note: The preceding is meant to be read with a touch of sarcasm 🙂

rubaiyat 6:30 pm 09 May 15

To me it is somewhere between Patagonian Welsh and Tuvan throat singing, but it varies even within the ACT.

It is a little bit like getting a Kiwi to say “six” or a Canadian to say “about”

Get somebody from Tuggeranong to say “tram” and you can pick the Tuggers whine instantly. 😉

mr_spoon 8:55 am 09 May 15

I get a lot of being mistaken for a Brit (even by Brits) but I do have a plummy accent – a lot like Whitlam’s, I think. Around Canberra I hear all three of the recognised variations on Australian English (broad, general, cultivated – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variation_in_Australian_English#Broad.2C_general_and_cultivated_Australian) although I think even the cultivated register has lost it compared to those lovely plummy intonations you hear in old ABC broadcasts.

But more importantly, where do you stand on the potato scallop vs potato cake dilemma?

Grail 9:26 pm 08 May 15

My brother and I were brought up in Canberra. Our history includes Higgins Primary, St John the Apostle, SFX, Marist Bros Pearce. We pretty much watched the same TV together.

I have the toff-ish Canberra accent, my brother doesn’t (but neither does he have the Aussie drawl mate).

I suspect the Canberra Accent might be common to people who were raised around pommy bastards like diplomats, senior plublic service in the ’70s, ten bob Poms, etc.

Oh, and Tom Baker as Dr Who, which I watched more faithfully than my brother.

Maya123 6:20 pm 08 May 15

Matt Watts said :

There is no accent. There have been strong influences from Melbourne and regional NSW over the long term, but nothing is dominant.

No, no, don’t say that. The Melbourne accent is one of the worst. Now you have me worried, as lately I have been less able to recognise it. Now from your comments I’m thinking that might be because I’ve developed a bit of a Melbourne accent. Nooooo…..

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