a restaurant that refused a blind man entry because it thought his guide dog was "gay" has been ordered by the Equal Opportunity Tribunal to pay him $1500.
What was strikingly missing from this story, as I read it, was a discussion of why and how the misunderstanding could have arisen. Pretty obviously, I would have thought, it must have been because the expression guide dog, pronounced in a mainstream English way as ɡaɪddɒɡ — with dd standing, as usual, for a geminated dː, with no release of the word-final consonant and no onset of the following word-initial one — was interpreted as the Australian sequence ɡaɪdɒɡ, where aɪ is the quality associated with the FACE vowel rather than with the PRICE vowel. So gui(de) was misheard as gay.
As is well known, Australian English, ‘broad’ and ‘general’, has undergone a diphthong shift like that of Cockney, with the onset vowel qualities of FACE, PRICE and CHOICE shifted anti-clockwise. This makes Australian FACE sound like the PRICE of most other accents.
Most readers will have heard the joke about an Australian patient who said “I came into hospital just [təˈdaɪ]” (today), only to be treated as a suicide risk.
Interestingly, the waiter who misheard guide dog may well, like the restaurant owners, have been Vietnamese. We are not told the origins of the customer’s partner who uttered the words. Perhaps she was a posh Australian who had an unshifted PRICE diphthong.
In other relevant and equally world-shattering news, Australians are apparently now complaining about their prime minister’s voice. (To an outsider such as me she just sounds typically Australian.)
What is really grating on a lot of Australians is the heavy ''Gillard twang''. She regards this as central to her distinctly Australian speech manner and she's proud of it. Yet it is weighing down her communication efforts and dominating the impression she leaves with the public. […] What Gillard regards as identifiably ''Australian'', the public largely regards as annoying.
What I regard as annoying is not Ms Gillard’s voice but the sort of advice offered by her vocal coach, one Dean Frenkel, who is “an overtone singer and author of the forthcoming book Evolution of Speech”, as well as being the holder of the world record for singing a continuous note.
I just don’t know what Mr Frenkel means by such things as
Vowel articulation - ''e'', ''i'' and ''o'' should be exercised in a far more understated way. No over-articulating of vowels.Is he really advocating a reduction in clarity? Or is he asking for more vowel reduction, more weak forms?
More lightness - there's too much gravity in her voice. Add some occasional lightness that taps into a greater range of melody and more frequent higher melody. This would raise her energy and sound more natural.Whatever his qualifications as a vocal coach, he doesn’t seem to know much physics.