There is no clear record of the first Australians in Hong Kong. However, it is likely that the first generation of Australians arrived in Hong Kong in the mid-1850s, when huge white migrations within the British empire continued along the sea lines of communication between Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia/New Zealand.1
In the 1981 Hong Kong Population Census, 4,232 Australians and New Zealanders were registered as living in Hong Kong. In 1996, 20,209 Australians resided in Hong Kong, 0.30% of the population. In 2001, 6,883 Australian and New Zealanders were living in Hong Kong. In 2011, 15,943 Americans were living in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population. In 2016, 14,669 Australians were registered in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population. In 2021, 11,773 Australians were registered as living in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population.2
According to the Australian Consulate-General, there are about 100,000 Australian citizens in Hong Kong.1
When did it emerge?
Australian English is a Postcolonial English and an established “Inner Circle” variety, which has reached phase 5 of the developmental cycle of postcolonial Englishes.2
Phase 1 began when the “First Fleet” landed at Botany Bay in 1788 to establish a penal colony and brought convicts and settlers from all over the British Isles. Thus, dialect contact was the norm. Some Aboriginals acquired some knowledge of English and served as interpreters.
In phase 2 (1830s-1901), the mixed-dialect English spread gradually among Aboriginals.
In phase 3 (1901-1942), Australia underwent a large-scale language shift toward English, with many Aboriginal languages becoming extinct or strongly endangered. The Aboriginal English, which was partly based on the earlier New South Wales pidgin, now approximated nonstandard English, and developed as a new ethnolect.
In phase 4 (1942-1980s), Australia was viewed as a young, self-dependent nation accepting multicultural and multiethnic immigrants, and Australian English was accepted as one of the major reference varieties on a global scale.3
Place of origin
Australian Aboriginal languages, Scottish English, British English, American English, Irish English, New Zealand English4,5
Australian English is a West Germanic language.
Main regional, ethnic, and social varieties
Broad Australian English
General Australian English
Cultivated Australian English (closer to RP norms)
Australian Aboriginal English
The most distinctive characteristic of the phonological system of Australian English are the vowels - e.g., NURSE [ɜː], KIT [ɪ]; [ə], Dress [e]; [ɛ], Strut [ɒ], Foot [ʊ].
Flapping, frication and glottalisation of /t/ - e.g., fricated [ts] = went [wɛnts]; Flap/tap [ɾ] = thirteen [θɜ'ɾin]
Palatalisation of /t,d,s,z/ - e.g., tune [tjun]
Australia English has a distinctive intonation pattern, which is called High Rising Tone or Australian Questioning Intonation.
Borrowing from Australian Aboriginal languages
e.g., kangaroo, bettong, waddy
English formations: e.g., paddock: a small, fenced field (Britain), a piece of land (Australia)
The convict system:
e.g., anti-transportation, assign, bolter
British dialect: e.g., nugget, fossick, lolly
British slang: e.g., bludger, caser, chiack
Gold: e.g., alluvial lead, claim jumper, cradle
Military slang: e.g., boy scout’s leave (a brief shore-leave), drain the bilge (to be extremely seasick)