Australia has no official language, English has been established as the de facto national language and is spoken by the majority of the population. Apart from English, Australians speak more than 200 other languages, making Australia one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse countries in the world.

Australian English has a unique vocabulary and accent, diversifying itself from British and American variants of the English language. Australian English is more similar to British English in this sense, however the Australian variant has a more colorful everyday vernacular – the so-called “strine” – which makes it easier to differentiate from the British variant. Strine or Ozspeak is characterized by abbreviations, profanities, hyperboles, vulgar expressions and various word-tweakings; strine is a slang which originated from the early convicts of Cockney in London and Ireland, after which it developed into a rebellious subculture. The uses of strine and slang words vary from state to state, and the Australian English is comprised of many words with an Aboriginal descent.

Australian English: A Colorful Vernacular Shaped by History

The Australian Aboriginal community dates back to around 60,000 years and has the longest cultural history in the world. Out of the 250 indigenous languages of Australia, only 20 have survived to this day, and they are taught in schools and spoken regularly. The most common aboriginal language is Kriol; Kriol contains many English words which have different meanings and are usually spelled in a phonetic style.

Preserving Indigenous Heritage: Aboriginal Languages in Australia

Other indigenous languages of Australia include the Tasmania or Palawa languages, which were the indigenous languages of Tasmania Island, and the Torres Strait Island languages.

The most widely spoken foreign languages in Australia include: Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Tagalog, Hindi, Spanish and Punjabi. Mandarin is the most influential non-English dialect spoken in Australia. It is spoken by around 2.5% of the Australian population, which translates to around 600,000 people. Arabic is the second most popular foreign language spoken in Australia, with around 320,000 residents speaking Arabic at home. Cantonese is spoken by around 280,000, Vietnamese by around 277,000, and Italian by around 271,000 Australians. Italian Australians are the sixth-largest ethnic group in Australia, with almost every Australian region having a considerable portion of Italian-Australians, especially in Victoria and South Australia.

There are also the Auslan Yolnu Sign Language as well as other Aboriginal sign languages in the country used by around 10,000 people with impaired hearing.