Vaughan, Jill, Katie Jepson & Rosey Billington: Different words, same things

Vaughan, Jill, Katie Jepson & Rosey Billington

Togs or swimmers? Why Australians use different words to describe the same things‘, The Conversation, 5 January 2016

Uses maps to show the different words used by Australians to describe common items.

It’s often said that Australian English doesn’t vary much geographically – and it’s true that we don’t find the same striking linguistic differences across the country as in some other corners of the English-speaking world.

However, past and ongoing research has shown that there are some regional differences. Among the most obvious are the words people use for the same thing, such as swimwear – preferences for “togs”, “swimmers”, “cossie” or “bathers” vary markedly across the states and territories.

The authors look at possible reasons for these differences and suggest regional identity is a strong driver of choice of words. They argue that

certain words become strongly associated with a regional identity. When there is more than one option to choose from, individuals might use a particular word because it’s the most common term in their community, but also because that word indexes a broader group identity, such as Victorian versus New South Wales.

 

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