University of Tasmania
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Benny or Benno? : Our Aussie lingo

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posted on 2023-05-27, 09:07 authored by Davie, HR
Hypocoristics are informal variations of words which are common in Australian English, such as footy for football. The aim of this study was to examine whether people used different hypocoristics to convey different meanings for novel words (as common nouns, place names, male names, and female names), when presented as either 'loveable' or 'unloveable'. Our sample consisted of 132 adults living in Australia (66% female, mean age 25 years), who completed this study online. In line with the as-yet untested predictions of McAndrew (1992), it was hypothesised that participants would apply significantly more -ie endings to loveable than unloveable words, and significantly more -o endings to unloveable than loveable words. Both hypotheses were supported. Our results further supported the prediction that participants would add significantly more -o endings to male than female names, but not the prediction that they would add significantly more -ie endings to female than male names: in fact, the use of -ie did not differ. Changes made to individual word types, and to word length, are also discussed in a more exploratory manner. Overall, the results suggest that Australian adults create hypocoristics not randomly, but in a systematic way, to convey different meanings.


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