Antarctic English
Early forms
Latin (English alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Antarctic English is a variety of the English language spoken by people living on the continent of Antarctica and within the subantarctic islands.[1]: vii  Spoken primarily by scientists and workers in the Antarctic tourism industry,[2] it consists of various unique words and is spoken with a unique accent. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Antarctic English was influenced by Spanish-speaking South Americans and Northern European explorers who introduced new words that continue to be used today.


In 1989, Australian writer Bernadette Hince travelled to Antarctica in order to study the vocabulary of scientists working there. She wrote about a variety of unique words that originated on the continent and were not used anywhere else on earth. In 2000, she published the Antarctic Dictionary, a book detailing the words found in the dialect.[2]

An Antarctic accent was first studied in 2019 in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, in a study in which researchers observed changes in the vocal phonetics of scientists over the course of a winter period in Antarctica. They observed a change in vowel pronunciation in the scientists, and the vowels in words such as "food" and "window" began being pronounced in a more fronted position of the mouth than in other English varieties.[3][4][5][6]


Antarctic English features various words that are not used in other varieties of English. Differences in vocabulary include:[2]

British English Antarctic English
Sleeping chamber Donga
Antarctica The Ice
Homebrew beer Homer
Insomnia Big Eye

Antarctic English also has over 200 words for different types of ice. Words include tabulars (large flat-topped southern icebergs that break off from the Antarctic ice sheet and are usually over ten miles long), and growlers (underwater decaying icebergs roughly the size of a house).[2] In addition, the tourism industry has terms for different types of tourist encounters, such as Kodak poisoning (what happens when many tourists take photographs of the same site) and Dead-Penguin Tours (a type of tour in the late summer after penguins have abandoned weak chicks to die, leaving their bodies in popular tourist destinations, which causes grief in tourists).[2]

Influences from other languages

Antarctic English has been influenced by both Spanish and various Northern European languages.[1]: vii–viii  In the Falkland Islands, Antarctic English has been influenced by Spanish-speaking South Americans, such as with the word camp, which originates from the Spanish campo and refers to the countryside outside of a town.[1]: vii  During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Northern European industrialists interested in whaling and the fur trade introduced various technical words like the Norwegian-origin grax, which describes the leftover solids at the end of the whaling process.[1]: viii  Other words introduced by these Europeans during the 19th and 20th centuries included nunatak, mukluk, pemmican, and Nansen sled,[1]: viii  which they in turn adopted from various indigenous American languages.


Antarctic English has also influenced other varieties of English and a number of Arctic English terms were first adopted in Antarctica (particularly terms relating to ice).[1]: viii 


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hince, Bernadette (2000). "Introduction". The Antarctic Dictionary: A Complete Guide to Antarctic English. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing. pp. vii–x. ISBN 978-0957747111.
  2. ^ a b c d e Brooks, Geraldine (1997-07-01). "A Volume on Antarctic Lingo Will Make Slang Crystal Clear". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2023-08-10.
  3. ^ Bard, Susanne. "Linguists Hear an Accent Begin". Scientific American. Retrieved 2023-08-10.
  4. ^ Harrington, Jonathan; Gubian, Michele; Stevens, Mary; Schiel, Florian (2019). "Phonetic change in an Antarctic winter". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 146 (5): 3327–3332. doi:10.1121/1.5130709.
  5. ^ "Prolonged Isolation Can Lead to the Creation of New Accents". Atlas Obscura. 2020-04-20. Retrieved 2023-08-10.
  6. ^ University of Canterbury Antarctic Conference, Southern Exposure: Antarctic Research at the University of Canterbury