Sociophonetics has been described by leaders in the field as the integration of techniques, principles and theoretical frameworks used in both phonetics and sociolinguistics. Despite some notable exceptions, in earlier years, linguistic research paid little attention to the indexical properties of Australian English. In this past decade, however, sociophonetic research has increased dramatically and we have a better understanding of fine-grained variability in the system.

Springboarding from Cox’s (this volume) description of phonetic and phonological features, this chapter looks more deeply at how Australian English language users both encode (speak) and decode (process) sociophonetic information. The chapter focuses on what we now know about variability in the vowel, consonant and (less commonly) prosodic systems of Australian English, most crucially shining a light on socially stratified patterns within. As in the rest of this volume, the term “Australian English” refers to the mainstream variety we hear around the country, as well as various ethnolects and Aboriginal Englishes. Examples will be drawn from across these populations to show how sociophonetic variability manifests. In examining the sociophonetics of Australian English, this chapter will provide a more nuanced understanding of the features that are socially meaningful for its users.