What Languages are Spoken in Australia?

By Aleksandra

March 17, 2023

What Languages are Spoken in Australia?

Australia is a unique and diverse country, with many different languages spoken throughout the nation. The English language is the most widely spoken in Australia, but there are more than 250 other languages and dialects among the Indigenous communities. Aboriginal Australians have been speaking them for thousands of years. However, some are now endangered or even lost.

In addition, there are also many popular immigrant languages spoken in Australia, such as Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Hindi, and Mandarin. These many different languages reflect the cultural diversity of Australia and its rich history.

English Language in Australia

English is the most popular language in Australia, and speakers mainly choose it to communicate inside the country. Its form is called Australian English (AuE), and it has many characteristic features:

  • no strong “r” sounds (it is a non-rhotic dialect)
  • inflection (intonation) at the end of the sentences
  • distinctive vowel sounds
  • many accents like general, broad, or cultivated
  • some different words, terms, and slang (arvo – afternoon, cabbie- taxi driver, roo – kangaroo, etc.).

The English language came to Australia around 1788 with European settlers, and since then, it has changed a lot. What is more, Moore claims that around 1830, an Australian accent was formed by a fusion of the various British English types spoken in the first colony. After that, new accents emerged to improve communication.

We can assume that language and nationality are strictly related. The number of specific expressions, history, and events confirm it. Most people speak English in Australia, and it is the de facto national language, even though it is not official.

Aboriginal Languages

Aboriginal languages are spoken in Australia by the original inhabitants prior to European settlement. Those languages are unique mainly because of geographic isolation. They can be divided into two main language families – Pama-Nyungan and Non-Pama-Nyungan.

Moreover, there are approximately 200 to 300 distinct Aboriginal languages in Australia. Establishing the exact number is difficult as there are many dialects and speech varieties.

What is more, Aboriginal languages are incredibly complex, with sophisticated patterns of grammar, syntax, and pronunciation that differ significantly from English. Modern Aboriginal Australians have a strong commitment to language revitalization, with many communities working hard to preserve and revive their native languages for younger generations.

Other Languages in Australia

Also, there are many other languages spoken in Australia. The most common are Mandarin, Arabic, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Punjabi, Greek, Italian, Tagalog, Hindi, and Spanish.

As cultural diversity in Australia is very strong, there are many speaking communities from around the world. So languages spoken in Australia are numerous and distinctive as its residents.

What are the most Common Languages in Australia?

According to Census, around 76% of Australians speak English. Besides, 23% of respondents stated that they use a language other than English. In 2021, the most common were:

  • Mandarin (685, 274)
  • Arabic (367,159)
  • Vietnamese (320,758)
  • Cantonese (295,281)
  • Punjabi (239,033)
  • Greek (229,643)
  • Italian (228,042).

It is worth knowing that around 2% of the population speaks Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, etc.). Due to the rise of migration from cities like Shanghai and Beijing, this language became quite popular.

Grow and Decline of Languages in Australia

The fastest growth of Punjabi

Punjabi speakers are the fastest-growing language community in Australia, according to Census. From 2016 to 2021, the group grew by over 100,000 people (80.4%). When it comes to the proportions, this language community is more and more common, and it is in the top 10 languages spoken in Australia.

The Decline of Greek and Italian Speakers

Since 2016, the number of people who speak Greek and Italian has declined in Australia. Many members of these communities emigrated to Australia in the 1960s, so now there are over 50 years old. Nowadays, there aren’t so many migrations as the population is aging, so the number of people speaking those languages has decreased.

Why is Language Diversity Important to Australia?

Language is very important for people as it enables effective communication of values in the country. Diversity helps strengthen international links and exchanges.

Besides, it allows one to gain insights into other cultures and ways of life and can provide valuable economic benefits such as increased tourism or trade opportunities with other nations.

Additionally, this diversity increases social links between different ethnic and linguistic groups while also promoting greater understanding and tolerance.

Furthermore, thanks to it, Australia can preserve its unique cultural heritage and ensure that the traditions of communities are passed down through generations.

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Aleksandra is an experienced visa expert passionate about writing and creating professional content. She loves reading fantasy books, traveling, and board games. 📚🐱✨