Languages of Australia

Australia legally has no official language. However, English is by far the most commonly spoken and has been entrenched as the de facto national language since European settlement.[1] Australian English is a major variety of the English language with a distinctive pronunciation and lexicon,[2] and differs slightly from other varieties of English in grammar and spelling.[3] General Australian serves as the standard dialect.

Languages of Australia
MainAustralian English
IndigenousAustralian Aboriginal languages, Tasmanian languages, Torres Strait Island languages
ImmigrantMandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.5%), Cantonese (1.1%), Vietnamese (1.2%), Italian (1.2%)
SignedAuslan, various manual Indigenous languages, such as Eltye eltyarrenke, Rdaka-rdaka and Yolŋu Sign Language amongst others

According to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for close to 73% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are:[4] Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%), Italian (1.2%), Greek (1.0%), Hindi (0.7%), Bangla (0.6%), Spanish (0.6%) and Punjabi (0.6%).[5][6] A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation immigrants are bilingual or even multilingual.

In 2018, it was reported that one million people in Australia could not speak English.[7][8]

Over two hundred and fifty Indigenous Australian languages are thought to have existed at the time of first European contact, of which fewer than twenty are still in modern daily use by all age groups.[9][10] About 110 others are spoken exclusively by older people.[10] At the time of the 2006 census, 52,000 Indigenous Australians, representing 12% of the Indigenous population, reported that they spoke an Indigenous language at home.[11]

Australia is home to many sign languages, its most widespread is known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 5,500 people.[12] Other sign languages include the various manual Indigenous languages like Eltye eltyarrenke, Rdaka-rdaka and Yolŋu Sign Language.


Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Languages of Australia, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.