Australian English: Where Does It Come From?

If you ask North American students, “What are the benefits of studying in Australia,” they’ll tell you a number of things. One particular perk that students mention again and again is that there is no language barrier. Americans speak English, Canadians speak English, and Australians speak English. Right?

…well, not completely. We’ve already discussed the differences between Australian English and what we’re used to on this side of the world: variances on food terminology and the words that we use when we talk about university. But where do these terms come from? What stories lie behind their meanings? The Australian National University’s Australian National Dictionary Centre explains it all! This website hosts a lexicon which breaks down Australian words and sayings, their definitions, and how they came about. Click here to check it out for yourself.

Dag unfashionable dork nerd socially awkward

An authentic dag specimen found in its natural habitat

For example, a popular Australian expression is the word “dag.” In modern Australian culture, “dag” means “any unfashionable or non-stylish person.” However, that’s not what the word meant when it was first coined in the 1870s. “Dag” was originally used to describe “a lump of matted wool, feces, and dirt hanging from the rear end of a sheep” (Ewwwwww). How then, did the word evolve to its present-day definition? Find out here.

Do you like words and writing? Are you studying in Australia? Apply to be a student blogger! More information here.

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