Sand shoes, joggers or runners – Debate rages on how Australians pronounce training shoes

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A map showing the different terminology for training shoes in Australia shows a strong divide between the northern and southern states of the country.

Sydney Kingstone, a PhD linguist at the Australian National University, created the Talking Australian page after researching hundreds of people and their jargon across the country.

She found a big difference in the way different parts of Australia refer to training shoes – with sand shoes, joggers, runners and volleys all getting a lot of support.

A map showing the different terminology for training shoes across Australia shows a strong divide between the northern and southern states of the country

Volleys appears to be the biggest climber and most popular for people born after 1986 in Dr.  Kingstone, where tennis shoes, sneakers and runners are also gaining strength

Volleys appears to be the biggest climber and most popular for people born after 1986 in Dr. Kingstone, where tennis shoes, sneakers and runners are also gaining strength

dr. Kingstone found that most of the country uses sandshoes as their preferred description, including most of NSW, Queensland and Western Australia combined with the entire Northern Territory.

Victoria is the most conflicted state, with residents strongly supporting joggers, runners, sneakers and sandshoes.

Southwest Western Australia, Tasmania and Adelaide say sneakers, as does the north coast of NSW.

South Australia has perhaps the most idiosyncratic description, with the majority of the state recognizing the shoes as volleys, a reference to Dunlop’s popular shoe.

Sandshoes generally recorded the highest numbers in five of the eight states and territories, with Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria kicking the trend.

The research also shows how often each description is used by age group, with sandshoes’ popularity falling sharply among the younger generation.

Sand shoe corresponded to more than 60 percent of people born before 1967, and that number dropped to less than 20 percent in Australians born after 1986.

dr.  Kingstone also broke down the vernacular due to other factors including gender, education and location - finding sandshoes is still the most popular in the various areas

dr. Kingstone also broke down the vernacular due to other factors including gender, education and location – finding sandshoes is still the most popular in the various areas

The study also reveals how often each description is used by age group, with sandshoe popularity falling sharply among the younger generation.

The study also reveals how often each description is used by age group, with sandshoe popularity falling sharply among the younger generation.

Volleys appears to be the biggest climber and most popular for people born after 1986 in Dr. Kingstone, with tennis shoes, sneakers and runners also gaining momentum.

dr. Kingstone also broke down the vernacular based on other factors, including gender, education, and location.

She found that sand shoes were the most represented term for women, with sneakers and runners in second and third place, respectively.

Men had the same representation, but with much narrower margins.

Public school students overwhelmingly said they used the term sandshoes, just like private schools.

They agreed on sneakers for second, but were split third, with the public school saying runners, while private students surprisingly had volleys.

Sandshoes generally recorded the highest numbers in five of the eight states and territories, with Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria kicking the trend

Sandshoes generally recorded the highest numbers in five of the eight states and territories, with Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria kicking the trend

Several people surveyed said their answers were influenced by where they lived, despite many saying it was a struggle to understand the wording of each.

‘I’ve lived in Victoria for a number of years now and have gotten used to people calling them runners,’ says a woman from Queensland.

“My mother calls these sandshoes, so it wouldn’t sound strange to me if I heard it, but I’m not saying it,” said a young woman from Victoria.

Many said that their vocabulary had changed over the course of their lives and that they called the shoes differently now than when they were younger.

“I think I may have called them ‘trainers’ or ‘runners’ when I was younger, but I really can’t remember. I’d just call them ‘sports shoes’ now because you wear them to school for sports,” said one Western Australian man.

“Sands in my childhood and sneaker in more recent years,” said one South Australian woman.

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