English Australia (en-AU)

This documentation was updated on January 29, 2024.

abn built-in grammar

(Australian Business Number)

The Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique identifier for all business dealings with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and for future dealings with other government departments and agencies. Businesses need an ABN to register for the goods and services tax and other elements of The New Tax System.

The abn grammar recognizes a string of 11 digits. The format is: dd ddd ddd ddd .

Callers can speak the digit sequence using “double” and “triple”. For example, “…triple zero…”

The advantage of using this built-in instead of digits is that it takes advantage of a checksum to boost accuracy.

Return keys/values

MEANING Contains the ABN.
SWI_literal Contains the exact text that was recognized.

alphanum_lc built-in grammar

The alphanum_lc built-in grammar recognizes a connected string of up to 20 digits and lowercase alphabetic characters, such as “a8f9h23”. For example, this grammar could be used to recognize a product code or user id. The “lc” in the name of this built-in means lowercase. The possible characters are the lowercase letters a-z and the digits 0-9. The application layer can adjust the case of the returned letters as needed for further processing.

Note: This grammar replaces the alphanum built-in grammar.

alphanum built-in grammar

(NOTE: for backward-compatibility only. Otherwise, use alphanum_lc builtin)
This grammar has been replaced by the alphanum_lc grammar, but is still available. The alphanum builtin-grammar has been retained for backward-compatibility. For new implementations, please use the alphanum_lc builtin grammar.

The alphanum built-in grammar recognizes a connected string of up to 20 digits and uppercase or lowercase alphabetic characters, such as “A8f9h23”. For example, this grammar could be used to recognize a product code or order number. The possible characters are the uppercase letters A-Z, lowercase letters a-z, and digits 0-9. Uppercase and lowercase letters are homonyms (e.g., “B” and “b”), so the inclusion of both is redundant for the purposes of speech recognition of case insensitive items such as product codes. Thus, the alphanum built-in grammar has been replaced by the alphanum_lc grammar.

boolean built-in grammar

The boolean grammar collects an affirmative or negative response.


The y and n parameters let you associate any two touchtone buttons as synonyms for yes and no.

Parameter Description
y Desired DTMF digit to be equivalent to “yes” (default = 1)
n Desired DTMF digit to be equivalent to “no” (default = 2)


Caller says… MEANING key
yes true
no false

ccexpdate built-in grammar

The ccexpdate grammar understands the expiration date on a credit card. Expiration dates are usually a month and a year, and are often embossed on a credit card in the form “mm|yy.” The grammar recognizes variations on the date, for example, “December 2007,” “twelve oh seven,” “twelve of two thousand and seven,” “twelve slash zero seven,” etc.

creditcard built-in grammar

The creditcard grammar understands a caller saying a credit card number, optionally preceding the number with the credit card name, or the words “account number” or “account.” For example, a caller can say, “visa account number four oh one seven…,” “mastercard five zero zero two…,” or “three seven three five….”

crn buiilt-in grammar

(Customer Reference Number)

The Customer Reference Number (CRN) is a unique identifier that businesses assign to their customers. It is typically used for electronic bill payments and other transactions. The advantage of using this built-in instead of digits is that it takes advantage of a checksum to boost accuracy. This CRN built-in represents the format used by the Australian Government agency Centrelink.

The crn grammar recognizes an alphanumeric string. When the caller speaks, the strong format is: ddd ddd ddd a (9 digits followed by one alphabetic, which serves as a checksum). When the caller enters the string via touchtones (DTMF), the final alphabetic character is optional (see DTMF interpretation below).

Callers can speak the digit sequence using “double” and “triple.” For example, “…triple zero…”.

Return keys/values

MEANING contains the full 10-digit CRN.
SWI_literal contains the exact text that was recognized.

DTMF interpretation

When the caller uses touchtones, the final alphabetic character is optional:

  • If the caller omits the character, the DTMF grammar calculates it and returns it in MEANING.
  • If the caller includes the character, the DTMF grammar calculates the appropriate checksum (since each touchtone covers 3 or 4 alphabetics). If the final touchtone does not correspond to a valid checksum character, the caller’s CRN is rejected.

currency built-in grammar

The currency grammar collects currency using Dollars and Cents.

Return keys/values

MEANING contains a string in the following form: currencymain_unit_amount . subunit_amount A currency value of AUD is added as a prefix if the caller explicitly says “Australian Dollar.” If the caller omits the main unit or subunit amount, then that field is zero. The string contains a leading zero if the subunit amount is collected without the main unit.
SWI_literal contains the exact text that was recognized.


Caller says MEANING
five dollar 5.00
five cents 0.05
five dollars and five cents 5.05
five australian dollars and five cents AUD5.05
five dollars and twenty-five five dollars twenty-five five twenty-five 5.25
six hundred twenty-five thousand four hundred sixty-four dollars 625464.00
one dollar zero cents 1.00
one twenty two 1.22

date built-in grammar

The date grammar accepts a date spoken in any of several formats.

Recognized phrases include “4 June,” “4 June 2006,” ““4, 6, 2006,” “the 4th,” “4th June,” and “Monday, the 4th of June.”

The grammar also accepts “yesterday” “today,” and “tomorrow” which return values of -1, 0, and +1 respectively into the MEANING key.


Caller says MEANING key
January 5th, 2000 20000105
Yesterday -1
Today 0
Tomorrow +1
the fourth ??????04
Wednesday (Phrase not recognized)
Wednesday the 12th ??????12
4th June June 4 June 4th ????0604
June 4, 1997 19970604
June 4, 97 ??970604
Wednesday, June 4, 1997 19970604
the 6th ??????06
4, 6 ????0604
10, 12 ????1210
10, 12, 97 ??971210

digits built-in grammar

Valid characters are the digits 0-9. The digit `0’ can be pronounced as either “oh” or “zero.”

number built-in grammar

The number grammar recognizes whole numeric numbers (the caller must not speak the individual digits).


Numbers from -999,999,999.99 to 999,999,999.99 are recognized, but by default the minallowed parameter is set to zero, which limits recognition to positive values.

Caller says MEANING key
twenty five 25
twelve thousand three hundred forty five 12345
twelve hundred 1200
minus two negative two -2
fourteen point five six 14.56
fourteen dot fifty six (Phrase not recognized; the words “dot” and “fifty six” are not allowed)

phone built-in grammar

The phone built-in grammar accepts telephone numbers (landline and cellular) as follows:

  • 3-digit (emergency, etc)
  • 5-digit (directory assistance, etc)
  • 6-digit (businesses, services, etc)
  • 8-digit (landline local)
  • 10-digit (mobile or landline long distance)

The 8- and 10-digit numbers also accept additional telephone extension numbers (up to 4 digits).

The caller must speak each digits individually (no natural numbers). For example, the digits 5200 must be spoken as “five, two, zero, zero” and not as “fifty-two hundred”. The grammar does not allow the phrase “double,” as in “three two four five double two .”


Additionally, as stipulated in the VoiceXML specification, the caller may specify an extension, for example, “five four two three five six seven extension two thousand.” By default, extensions of one to four digits long are supported.

Property Description
minextension Minimum numeric value allowed for an extension (default is 1).
maxextension Maximum numeric value allowed for an extension. Set this to 0 to disallow extensions. (Default is 9999.)

DTMF interpretation

DTMF keys are interpreted according to the VoiceXML specification.

time built-in grammar

The time grammar recognizes a time of day. The grammar accepts spoken time utterances from the caller. Recognized phrases include times given in 12-hour format (e.g., “5 o’clock”) and 24-hour format (“twenty-three fifteen”). In addition, it will recognize “qualified” times such as “before 5 o’clock” and “about 5.”


For each entry, the values returned in the MEANING and QUALIFIER keys are shown. (Not shown are the values of the HOUR, MINUTE, and AMPM keys.)

now, immediately… (Phrase not recognized) --
in a half hour (Phrase not recognized) --
at noon 1200p exact
at midnight 0000? exact
before noon 1200p before
after thirteen thirty 1330h after
twenty twenty 2020h exact
eight twenty in the morning 0820a exact
half past eight 0830? exact
seven fifteen pm quarter past seven in the evening 0715p exact
twenty four hundred hours twenty four hundred 0000h exact

Vocabulary items and pronunciations

This chapter describes considerations for vocabularies and their pronunciations in Australian English (en-AU).

Specially tuned pronunciations

The following table shows common words that are fine-tuned by Nuance. Each of these words contains “word-specific phonemes”; that is, phonemes and associated models created especially for the words.

Words with tuned pronunciations (do not modify):

  • All letters of the alphabet, a-z
  • Affirmation and negation: yes, no
  • Monetary units: dollar, dollars, cent, cents
  • Cardinal numbers: 0-99, 100, and 1000
  • Ordinal numbers: 1.-31. (1 st through 31 st )

Australian English pronunciations

This section provides detailed reference information to help create pronunciation dictionaries. It is intended for people who have sufficient knowledge of the English language as spoken in Australia. It provides information about transcription and pronunciation.

As reference pronunciation dictionary we use:

Wells, John C.: Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. Burnt Mill: Longman 1990. (ISBN 0-582-96411-3)

In this dictionary you will find the Australian English as well as the American English pronunciation.

If you are not sure how a certain word is pronounced you can refer to the IPA transcriptions given there and then convert them into the SAMPA symbols, given in the alphabetic SAMPA-IPA table (The English symbol set in alphabetical order).

The Australian English phoneme system

The Australian English phoneme system can be divided into two groups:

  • Consonants
  • Vowels

Furthermore, it is possible to define six different types of consonants:

  • Plosives
  • Fricatives
  • Affricates
  • Nasals
  • Laterals
  • Semivowels

Within the vowel group, further distinctions can be made between front, central, and back vowels and diphthongs.

Australian English spelling does have a certain complexity, since the orthography of most of its constituent words does not necessarily reflect their pronunciation. This lack of rigid structure means that the relationship between spelling (grapheme) and sound (phoneme) is difficult to define. Generally speaking, the phonetic transcription of a word is influenced by:

  • Specific phonetic rules
  • Pronunciation peculiarities that have developed by the time

English symbol set grouped by phoneme classes

The following table shows all phonemes used in Australian English transcriptions, these are listed according to their phoneme classes with their SAMPA and IPA representations.

Phoneme class SAMPA IPA Examples of usage
Consonants Plosives b b
p p pin /pIn/
g g give /gIv/
k k skin /skIn/
d d dummy /dVmi:/
t t tin /tIn/
Fricatives v v saving
f f coffee /kQfi:/
D ð this /DIs/
T θ thin /TIn/
z z crazy /kreYzi:/
s s sin /sIn/
S ʃ ship /SIp/
Z ʒ vision /vIZ@n/
h h hit /hIt/
Affricates t: ʧ chat
d: ʤ ginger /d:Ind:@/
Nasals m m mock
n n knock /nQk/
N ŋ thing /TIN/
Laterals l l long
Vowels Semivowels r r
j j yes /jes/
w w wet /wet/
Single vowels I ɪ pit
i: i: ease /i:z/
e e pet /pet/
u: u: lose /lu:z/
@ ə away /@weY/
{ æ bad /b{d/
A: ɑ: stars /stA:z/
Q ɒ pot /pQt/
O: ɔ: north /nO:T/
V ʌ cut /kVt/
3: ɜ: furs /f3:z/
U ʊ put /pUt/
Diphthongs eY raise
aY rise /raYz/
QY ɔɪ noise /nQYz/
@W əʊ nose /n@Wz/
aW au̬ / aʊ̬ rouse /raWz/
eR stairs /steRz/
IR ɪə appear /@pIR/
UR ʊə tourist /tURrIst/

English consonants

English consonants typically consist of:

  • Six plosives
  • Nine fricatives
  • Two affricates
  • Three nasals
  • One lateral
  • Three semivowels


There are three voiced and three voiceless plosives in Australian English, which can be arranged in pairs as shown here:

Voiced Voiceless
/b/ bit rabid cab
/g/ gold degree bag
/d/ down medal sad

Glottal stop

Australian English has an additional plosive, the so-called glottal stop ‘?’. It does not have a distinctive function and is not uniformly represented in the language’s orthography, but it is pronounced. For example, before initial vowels when heavily stressed, and is sometimes used as a variant supplanting the medial and final /t/. It can, however, be ignored for dictionary transcription purposes.


There are eight fricatives in the Australian English SAMPA symbol set, five voiceless and four voiced:

Voiced Voiceless
/v/ vine even prove
/D/ this worthy with
/z/ zone razor plays
/Z/ gendarme vision

In Australian English the voiceless fricative /h/ does not appear in the final position.


In Australian English there are two affricates: /d:/ and /t:/.

Note, that in SAMPA affricates are always represented by two single phonemes:

Voiced Voiceless
/d:/ gin ridges large


There are three nasals in Australian English, /m/, /n/, and /N/. The velar nasal /N/ (back of the tongue touches the soft palate) never appears in the initial position.

/m/ man hammer ham / m {n/ /h{m@/ /h{m/
/n/ net enter run / n et/ /ent@/ /rVn/
/N/ sing finger /sI N / /fINg@/

Pronunciation note: The grapheme n before c, g, k, q, x is pronounced as /N/.

Syllabic /m/ and /n/ are represented as /@m/ and /@n/ respectively, for example: garden /gA:d@n/.


There is one lateral in Australian English: /l/.

/l/ long falling roll / l QN/ /fO:lIN/ /r@Wl/

Syllabic /l/ is represented as /@l/, for example: level /lev@l/.


A semivowel is articulated by allowing air to escape over the center of the tongue through a stricture (in the case of /w/ two strictures) that is not so narrow as to cause audible friction. Semivowels are articulated like vowels, but function as consonants since they are not syllabic. They can also be referred to as approximants.

There are three semivowels in Australian English, /r/, /j/, and /w/.

/r/ rich blurring / r It:/ /bl3:rIN/
/j/ young view / j VN/ /v j u:/
/w/ win away / w In/ /@ w eY/

In Australian English final /r/ is usually not pronounced, unless it appears in combined words as a linking-r, for example: far-off /fA:rQf/.

English vowels (front, central, and back vowels)

Australian English single vowels (monophthongs) can be divided into three groups according to their place of articulation: front, central or back. Within each group vowels differ in their degree of mouth opening. Length is of minor importance in the Australian English vowel system, and the length of a particular vowel in a given word may change considerably in connected speech. Thus the colon, which appears in some phonetic symbols to denote length, is used in the transcription of Australian English to denote a different vowel quality rather than quantity (length).

The three vowel groups are shown in the following table, ranging in each group from closed (top) to open (bottom) mouth:

Front Central Back
/i:/ ease believe free / i: z/ /bIli:v/ /fri:/
/I/ itch pit /It:/ /p I t/
/e/ pet ever /pet/ /ev@/
/{/ apt sad / { pt/ /s { d/

Pronunciation note: The short o-sound, is regularly transcribed as /Q/, like in moral /mQr@l/.


There are eight diphthongs in the Australian English phoneme inventory:

/eY/ aim face hay /eYm/ /feYs/ /heY/
/aY/ ice price high /aYs/ /praYs/ /haY/
/QY/ oyster toys boy /QYst@/ /tQYz/ /b QY /
/@W/ omen home blow /@Wm@n/ /h@Wm/ /bl@W/
/aW/ our mouth now /aW@/ /maWD/ /naW/
/IR/ ear near / IR / /n IR /
/eR/ air area square /eR/ /eRrIR/ /skweR/
/UR/ cure /kj UR /

Diphthongs can artificially emerge in a transcription when the individual phonemes that usually form a diphthong are placed adjacent in a word. For example, autoimmune. However, instances of such words are rare and can be ignored.

Specific pronunciation transcription methods


In Australian English, a word pronounced in isolation never ends in /r/. However, in connected speech the final r is pronounced as if it is followed by a vocal, as in the combined words:

far-off /fA:rQf/

The inserted r-sound is known as `linking-r’ and should be transcribed to avoid liaison problems.

Initial wh

A word initial wh, pronounced /hw/ by some Australian speakers, is concisely represented as /w/ in Nuance transcriptions. Actually the phoneme has been trained to accommodate for the /hw/-variant, for example:

which /wIt:/
whale /weY@l/

Syllabic consonants

The consonants l, m, and n can sometimes form a syllable on their own. In these cases they are transcribed as /@l/, /@m/, and /@n/ respectively.

Pronunciation of foreign words

When there is a need to transcribe foreign words the general rule is to transcribe those words with the same SAMPA symbol set than the rest. In case of a Australian English transcription you have to transcribe every word of the dictionary with the Australian English SAMPA symbols.

If you use a different symbol set your system will be incapable of understanding the input.

Every language has a different phoneme inventory, so you may have problems in covering each and every sound. For the most common cases we offer the following transcription examples.

French nasals

Try to apply a pronunciation that has been adapted to Australian English, for example:

bon-bon /bQnbQn/

The original transcription ‘bo~bo~’ cannot be realized because the French phoneme ‘o~’ is not part of the Australian English SAMPA Symbol set.

Vowel ‘y’ in German and French

The vowel ‘y’, found in some German or French words can be represented by /jU/, such as:

Dubonnet /djUbQneY/

Conveniently this reflects the pronunciation commonly used by Australian English speakers who are not fully conversant within the particular language.

German fricatives ‘C’ and ‘x’

Palatal and velar fricatives that occur in, for example, German, can be transcribed as /k/, instead of ‘C’ or ‘x’. As in:

Bach /bA:k/
Reich /raYk/

Multiple pronunciations (variants)

The type of pronunciation used in SAMPA and in the Australian English system dictionary conforms to the standard non-regional Australian pronunciation. It is possible for other varieties of Australian English to occur in an application. If they markedly differ from the standard form, they should be transcribed as a separate variant, as in:

data /deYt@/
data <dA:t@> /dA:t@/

The English symbol set in alphabetical order

The following table shows the English symbol set in alphabetical order:

SAMPA IPA Examples of usage
@ ə away
@W əʊ nose
{ æ bad
3: ɜ: furs
A: ɑ: stars
aW au̬ / aʊ̬ rouse
aY rise
b b bin
d d dummy
D ð this
d: ʤ ginger
e e pet
eR stairs
eY raise
f f coffee
g g give
h h hit
I ɪ pit
i: i: ease
IR ɪə appear
j j yes
k k skin
l l long
m m mock
n n knock
N ŋ thing
O: ɔ: north
p p pin
Q ɒ pot
QY ɔɪ noise
r r run
s s sin
S ʃ ship
t t tin
T θ thin
t: ʧ chat
U ʊ put
u: u: lose
UR ʊə tourist
v v saving
V ʌ cut
w w wet
z z crazy
Z ʒ vision