English / Year 10 / Language / Language variation and change

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Curriculum content descriptions

Understand that Standard Australian English in its spoken and written forms has a history of evolution and change and continues to evolve (ACELA1563)

Elaborations
  • investigating differences between spoken and written English by comparing the language of conversation and interviews with the written language of print texts
  • experimenting with and incorporating new words and creative inventions in students’ own written and spoken texts
  • understanding how and why spelling became standardised and how conventions have changed over time and continue to change through common usage, the invention of new words and creative combinations of existing words
General capabilities
  • Literacy Literacy
ScOT terms

Language conventions,  English language

Video

Four Corners: Devon, Polony, Stras or Fritz?

How much is your use of the English language influenced by where you live? Would it be possible to work out where in Australia somebody comes from just by listening to them speak? In this clip from a 1975 episode of Four Corners, find out how words and expressions we use every day might be revealing more about us than we realise.

Audio

Radio National: The original pronunciation of Shakespeare

Have you ever been in a situation where someone is speaking to you in English but you cannot understand them? William Shakespeare wrote in English but sometimes it is difficult to understand his English. In 'Lingua Franca' the linguist David Crystal talks about mounting a production of 'Romeo and Juliet' using Shakespeare's ...

Audio

Big Ideas: Evolving English and the impact of television

Imagine if the English language never evolved. What would we be speaking? Possibly Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxon tribes, a language written down using runes known as the 'futhorc'. English continues to evolve, but it takes the media to bring new words into common usage. So which form of media is responsible ...

Audio

Radio National: Gender convergence in teenager swearing

Explore how the use of swearing by teenagers is changing. Maria Zijlstra talks to Mike Thelwall, Professor of Information Science at the University of Wolverhampton, about the upsurge in swearing on social networking sites, especially among girls. He contends that, in the UK in particular, swearing is losing its shock value ...

Video

Radio National: Understanding Aboriginal English

Australian English has evolved to adopt terms from Aboriginal languages, some of which are widely used. 'Yakka' and 'bung' are two examples. Can you think of some more? Aboriginal communities have likewise adopted English terms, like 'deadly' but with different meanings, creating 'Aboriginal English'. Can you think of some ...

Video

Four Corners: Pretty polly How politicians speak

If politicians are the 'voice of the people', does their way of speaking resemble that of the people? In this clip from 1975, listen to Professor John S Gunn describe what he sees as a uniquely Australian rhythm of speech. Then see how many similarities and differences you can find as you listen to some brilliant imitations ...

Video

Four Corners: Pronunciation wars

How much attention must broadcasters pay to the pronunciation of words? Watch language experts and ABC staff discussing the preferred pronunciation of 'Don Quixote', a fictional Spaniard who appears in the novel bearing his name and in several significant artistic works. This clip reveals the importance placed upon the ...

Video

Four Corners: Core speech with extras, thanks

A national survey in the 1960s indicated that the use of spoken English was surprisingly similar throughout Australia. This challenged the notion of 'regionalism', which suggested that people from different places would use language in different ways. In this clip, two leading academics discuss regionalism and suggest that ...

Video

Can We Help?: The keys to clearer explanations

G'day cobber! Are you a true-blue, dinky-di Aussie? Australian slang can be quite bewildering for anyone who is new to this country and even for those who've lived here quite a while. In this clip Professor Kate Burridge explores how to use verbal and non-verbal language to explain difficult concepts.

Audio

Big Ideas: Evolving English and the role of social media

How many times have you heard teenagers berated for using the term 'like'? Yet this term has existed at least since 1586 when the term, 'Yon man is like out of his mind' was written into history. The truth is, our language is constantly evolving, with new words added, others dying off and some resurfacing again. In this ...

Video

Four Corners: I speak, you guess

Listen to the voices of a small selection of students from around Australia to see if you can guess where they live. Is place the most important thing that shapes their language, or are there other factors that influence how people speak?

Audio

Radio National: History of the words 'Aussie' and 'battler'

Which is correct? Ozzie or Aussie? And what does a battler have to do with it? Learn about the origin of these terms from the lexicographer Bruce Moore, who wrote the book 'What's their story? A history of Australian words'. He says that a battler has variously been referred to as a bird, a swagman or a prostitute. Could ...

Audio

When is wrong grammar right?

Do adults or teachers ever correct how you say something? Do they tell you your grammar is wrong? Even when everybody you know says it that way? Find out who is wrong and who is right with language expert Professor Roly Sussex.

Audio

Radio National: Ways of talking

The ways that people talk can reveal much about themselves, and can also cause strong responses in listeners. Julian Burnside reads from his book 'Word watching' about the controversy over the pronunciation of the letter 'h', and how the pronunciation of words starting with 'h' has changed over the centuries. He suggests ...

Video

Can We Help?: Naming words: significant social effects

The names we give people and places hold great significance for us. But have you ever thought about how this simple act can impact on others? Naming is a powerful tool. Watch this clip as Professor Kate Burridge explains the ways that language can have significant social effects.

Audio

Radio National: Using the word 'you' in English

Have you ever wondered why we use the word 'you' to refer to both one 'you' or many of 'you'? Or have you ever heard anyone refer to many of 'you' using the once grammatically incorrect word 'youse'? This program considers the words we use when we are talking to each other face to face. It also looks at the use of the word ...

Interactive

Syllabus bites: Visual literacy

A resource with information, study guides and resources on visual literacy to support the English K-10 Australian Curriculum in English. It provides a series of activities, guidelines and tasks about visual texts from a variety of sources. Contains writing scaffolds, templates and proformas for responding and composing ...

Interactive

Syllabus bites: types of sentences

A web page resource with information, teacher guides and activities on types of sentences to support the Australian Curriculum in English K–10. It has detailed activities, links to resources and quizzes.

Video

Othello: Is Iago the vilest villain?

Some characters we just love to hate! Iago, the villain in Shakespeare's 'Othello', is a perfect example: scheming, manipulative but oh-so-clever. James Evans and actor Damien Ryan both of Bell Shakespeare, discuss the complex role of Iago. Evans explains just how skilfully Shakespeare employs language to fashion the dark ...

Video

Othello: The birth of the green-eyed monster

You'd never want to get into an argument with Shakespeare, who certainly knows how to use words to convince! A key moment in Othello is in Act 3, scene 3, where Iago plants the seeds of doubt in Othello's mind about his wife's faithfulness. It is a study in masterful manipulation, as illustrated by Hazem Shammas and Damien ...