Young native-speaking males emphasizing deep voices

Recently a possibly new speech pattern has come to my attention and I am wondering whether it is genuine or whether I am mistaken. It is young, male native speakers emphasizing a deep, “rough” voice. I’ve heard e.g. Americans and Australians do this, it can sound quite a bit forced and not genuinely “hulkish” (like … Read more

Are there specific situations where one spelling variant is recommended over another?

I am not a native speaker of English so I get confused when writing since there are sometimes two different spellings of words in English — by which I mean an American spelling and a British spelling. Are there specific situations where one spelling is recommended over the other? Answer I’m from the UK, but … Read more

Is ‘yeah-nah’ a uniquely Australian idiom?

There is a response in Australian English that means “Yes I hear you and empathise with your situation, but no this course of action won’t work for me.” [Yeah-Nah] I assumed this was a normal part of the English language, until I saw other discussions claiming this to be unique to Australian English. That didn’t … Read more

Were American, Australian, and New Zealand English dialects ever spoken in Britain before the colonization of these lands?

Were American, Australian, and New Zealand English dialects ever spoken in Britain before the colonization of these lands? Answer Languages change. Otherwise, we’d still be speaking like Chaucer. The British settlement of America started in the 17th century; there has been lots of time since then for several different American dialects to develop. The British … Read more

What’s the origin of “dinkum”?

Dinkum as a noun means work, especially hard work. As an adjective, like fair dinkum, it means honest or genuine. Other than saying it’s chiefly Australian and New Zealand, the OED simply says “Origin unknown” and has a first quotation from 1888 for the noun and 1894 for the adjective. But why dinkum? What is … Read more

Is “early mark” only used in Australia and New Zealand?

What countries is “early mark” used in? It means being let out of something, typically school, early. only reports it being mentioned in Urban Dictionary, and it doesn’t have information on what varieties of English use it. Google ngram isn’t very useful – too many uses of early mark without it having the meaning … Read more

Dinky cars (toy cars)

I came across this term while proofreading an unpublished poem by an Irish poet. The context is not important so I’ll just say that it is clear that it means “toy cars”. I Googled the term and see that it refers to a brand-name of die-cast toy car made by the British company Meccano starting … Read more

Should pronunciation of the r in “heart” be the same as r in “rabbit”, in UK English?

My 5 yr old daughter was given a task by her teacher to “find as many things as she can that have the sound r” with examples of rabbit, barrow, and ruler (all r’s were underlined in the 3 words). She was criticised by the teacher for answering with the word “heart”, because “it’s the … Read more

What are the ‘distances’ among the major English dialects?

Yes, I admit, as an AmE speaker, that all non-North American accents sound the same: BrE, Irish, Scottish, Australian and South African. Or rather, I can tell they are different if placed side by side as in the excellent 21 accents but I can’t name them off in isolation, unless I pick out one very … Read more