Tony Thorne also credit the development of Australian slang to the various ethnic origins of the people that first settled in Australia. These people, who came from the East End of London and from Ireland and Scotland, were from places where local linguistic traditions were very rich. Being in a faraway land also gave them an advantage to play freely with the language, since they were not cramped by UK’s upper-class cultures. They were able to create various nicknames for the things they found in Australia. University of Melbourne language and linguistics professor, John Hajek added that jargon and slang were common in the lower classes, including the convicts, which made up a large portion of the first white settlers in Australia. They used slang as their own way of communicating with one another, which separated them from the other classes in society.
The heyday of strine was around the 60s and 70s when it was no longer a local thing and seemed to have been picked up by areas outside of Australia. Part of this was due to television, when Australian dramas were aired in the United Kingdom, the most popular of which was ‘Neighbours.’ Due to the exposure to Australian programs, the British got exposed to Australian English and slang, which they readily picked up, with the slang getting mixed into British English.
As noted by Tony Thorne, there has been a slowdown in the creation of Australian slang, since only three words got included in the latest edition of the Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, two of which according to Thorne, were already old words that have been revived.
For a while, bar habitués in South Africa, Great Britain and even in the United States were very familiar with Australian drinking terms, such as necking (swallowing/drinking), sculling (downing a drink in one gulp), stubbies (short necked bees bottles) and tinnies (beer cans).
The days of Crocodile Dundee had been relegated to the past. Australians, who before were associated with backpackers and barmen are now working in the service and financial sectors when they work abroad. They are now using corporate speech and jargon. They have been Americanized. The younger Australians are borrowing heavily from Americanisms and social media. They are no longer creating their own colorful words. In previous years, Paul Hogan’s former TV commercial was lambasted in Australia. They thought it was a sell-out. The ad copy used the traditional g’day and barbie (barbecue), but he said “shrimp” when Australians do not say shrimp. They eat and say prawns.
Thorne and Hajek both agree that the decline in the creation of Australian slang is due to the diminishing number of Australian backpackers, who are instrumental in spreading Australian slang wherever they went. But it could also be that all is not lost, because the very modern and oft-repeated word selfie is believed to have originated from Down Under.