Spotlight on: Varieties of English

Do Australians really say g’day? Why do the Brits refer to sports shoes as trainers whilst Americans call them sneakers? What is the difference between crisps, chips and fries? These are the kinds of questions addressed in the Varieties of English course, which celebrates the diversity of spoken English in its many regional and social variants.


American student Jeany says:

I’m not a linguistics major back home, but when I read the course description before arriving in Cambridge I thought it looked really interesting. I’m definitely glad I chose it. We learn about different dialects and accents. Some of them are really different to the English I speak; it’s like learning a new language! The best classes are the ones where our lecturer brings along guests who have particular dialects so that we can hear them for ourselves.

Each class focuses on a particular variant of English. In the clip below Dr Bert Vaux talks about some of the stereotypes associated with Australian English, such as the vowel shift. He is helped by Australian student Mitchell:

Why not test your own skills by watching this TV advert for Australia and seeing how many stereotypical phrases you can spot?

For more information about the course, please see the Pembroke College website.


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