Video proves how Australian accents are changing in younger generation

A subtle but telling change in the Australian accent has been delicately unfolding in recent years, but most would be hard pressed picking out the change unless someone pointed it out.

It’s so subtle that it’s likely those exhibiting the new inflection haven’t even noticed it themselves, and chances are their close network hasn’t picked up on it either.

According to voice expert Amy Hume, who lectures at the University of Melbourne, people in generations Z and Alpha have been dropping what has been a long-lasting Australianism.

Young people have been adopting Americanised pronunciation with certain words, one of them being “news”.

“The younger generation are getting rid of the ‘yuh’ and making it more ‘noo’,” Ms Hume revealed.

“That’s a shift that’s happening in real time in our accent, which is an influence of US media and their pronunciation of that word.”

She said those who had been heavily influenced by US media were now pronouncing “news” like “noos”, with heavy usage of TikTok, YouTube and streaming services likely to blame.

The change didn’t carry over to other similar words however, like duke, tune or Tuesday, which all also had the same Aussie “yuh” pronunciation.

“It will be interesting to see if those words will also eventually change,” she said.

“The ‘yuh’ used to be definitely a distinguishing feature between us and the US, but whether it will remain that way, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Changes happening to the Aussie accent

Theory road-tested at Sydney University put the theory to the test on an expedition to University of Sydney and asked young students how they would typically pronounced “news”.

The first group we encountered were entirely American which made the theory hard to test, but later served as a helpful reference point. As expected, they pronounced the word “noos”.

Most students however, despite being under age 20, were pronouncing the word with the distinctive Aussie “yuh” sound.

That was until we met 15-year-old, Summer, who was the first person in our travels to have adopted the American pronunciation.

Despite having an otherwise entirely Aussie accent, Summer pronounced “news” as “noos”.

Later, we came across 18-year-old, Gemma, who had also taken on the American accent for the word.

Ms Hume said it was only natural for people to adapt to the conditions in their environment, which for the younger generation, was heavily influenced by the internet and American media.

“Accents are always changing, they’re always evolving. It’s not something that ever stops changing, so we will hear different words and pronunciations and even the tunes of our accents change through our lifetimes as you hear different generations,” she said.

Another word that had become Americanised by many of her students was “maths”.

“When I was at school, we went to ‘maths’ class, but they go to ‘math’. They’ve dropped the S,” she said.

Ms Hume previously revealed the crucial quirks that form the backbone of the Australian accent and explained why American actors struggled so much when attempting it.

It all comes down to how we pronounce the letter R and the way it changes depending on the words we’re using, she told

The Australian accent is non-rhotic, meaning we only pronounce the letter R when it’s followed by a vowel, whereas in rhotic accents like Irish or American, it is pronounced whenever it appears.

She gave the example of the pronunciation of “over the river” – Aussies wouldn’t pronounce the ‘R’ at the end of the words in the same way Americans would.

They would however, at the end of “over” if the sentence became “over on the river”.

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