How to speak Aussie – the Lingo of the Land Down Under !

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… and she said;  “Do you come from a land Down Under” …?

Do you know how to speak ridgy didge genuine Aussie?   The language spoken in the land Down Under is full of interesting and unique words and phrases.  A word of warning; trying to make sense of our lingo will provide you with much entertainment.

Let us give you a few geunuine tips!  Australian slang, known as ‘Strine’ is a way of using words and phrases that are unique to Australians.

Our use of unusual colloquialisms is sure to confuse even the most ‘clued-up‘ traveler!

Australia is an English speaking country, but we are known to put a unique twist on the traditional English language.  The best advice I can give you is .. don’t take it too seriously!

You may find that Australians tend to speak quickly and have an unusual way of pronouncing words.  We Aussies have a quirky sense of humour and take every opportunity to have a laugh where we can.  We often use our language to do that.

From time to time, we will use some of that rhyming slang that we are famous for.  The trick is to be prepared and familiarise yourself with some of our lingo before you arrive.  Rhyming Strine can be fun.

Our language has evolved from all who have settled here

Australia is a nation of many cultures.  Many of us are direct descendants of English convicts who were sent to settle Australia from England in the late 1700s.   Many of these were rogues, murderers, thieves and opportunists .. I’m sure some may say ‘not a lot has changed’ 🙂

Today we are proud of our multicultural culture which includes the first Australians, Italians, Greek, Maltese, Chinese, Vietnamese, South African and Europeans and people from many other countries.  It is who we are and we love our differences!

We’re proud of our ethnicity and we are especially proud that our language has grown and evolved to ensure we have become one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.

Accent?  What accent?

Australian slang is rich with humour, wit and rhyme and it’s is not just about the accent … although most Aussies will stand tall, put their hand on their heart and tell you indignantly, they don’t have an accent!

Commonly used words and colloquial phrases are referred to as strine.  

Simple things such as shortening words or adding an ‘o‘ onto the end are quite common practice and can easily confuse visitors.

As an example: We might shorten the word aggressive to agro or refer to a journalist as a journo.  Often we might add an ‘o‘ to someone’s name such as calling Craig Craigo or Damien Damo which is usually done in friendship, never with someone we don’t know well.   Think of these variances as a ‘term of endearment’ in recognition of acceptance.   There is no rationale to it all, but it makes sense to us!

Redheaded men are often referred to as ‘Blue’ .. or Bluey.  We’re not sure where this came from but it’s thought to be attributed to red-haired Irishmen who were known to be hot headed and prone to fighting.  A ‘blue’ is a term we use to describe a ‘fight’ or ‘argument’.

Slang used in America or England won’t always have the same meaning in Australia.  My advice is, that unless you are absolutely sure of a word or a saying, don’t be tempted to use it.  Chances are that it can mean quite the opposite and may result in total embarrassment!

Speak Aussie to me

I had never considered that Australians spoke differently and it wasn’t until I stayed with friends in Pennsylvania that I realised that I was indeed, different!

This memory still makes me smile!
Jesca, know that you’ve made a lasting impression on this Aussie!

One morning (way too early for grown-ups), their 3 year old climbed into bed beside me. She held my face in both hands and whispered loudly (as only 3 year olds do); “Speak Aussie to me”.  

Struth mate‘, who would’ve thought!

Musicians, writers and poets – all those with the gift of the gab!

Much of our lingo has a uniqueness that invokes a smile, and many musicians, poets and songwriters have woven our unique and quirky sayings into songs and poems which have iconised our uniqueness … and our language.

  • Jimmy Barnes of Men at Work fame has used a number of Australianisms in the very popular song Land Down Under when they sang; “he just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich’.
  • Slim Dusty’s famous song ‘Pub with no beer’ evokes a sense of desperation for those who fear the pub will run out of beer!  Serious business to be sure!
  • Dorothea Mackellar’s poem “My Country” talks of of the rugged country we Australians call home; “I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains”.

Australia has always been painted a tough country, and the people even tougher!  We’re full of bravado on the outside but really we’re just marshmellows on the inside.  Ask any Aussie!

Don’t be a ‘Galah’

Galah - the land down under

Crocodile Dundee‘, the movie introduced the Australian language to the world.   A fun movie that did fabulous things for tourism in Australia and taught the world how to say G’day, Australian style.

Funny though, saying G’day is not used as often as you might think and calling someone a ‘galah‘ is definitely not a compliment!

We really don’t often say things like ‘crikey‘, or ‘fair dinkum‘, or ‘stone the crows’ and just to give you the ‘heads up‘ fella’s, girls actually get pretty cranky if they’re referred to as a ‘sheila‘.  Most self respecting ‘blokes‘ wouldn’t dare risk it!

Aussies are a curious mob

We Aussies are a strange bunch.  We have been known to enjoy proving someone wrong and to prove my point, I set about researching the language of Australia … after all, I don’t speak funny, I’m not unusual and I don’t have an accent!

So, if you are dreaming of visiting Australia, there are a few Australian terms that you should know to help you get through day to life.

Let me introduce you to this fascinating website … Australian Slang.  Well researched, this site has put together an extensive list of Australian slang and their interpretations.

Reading this list was refreshing.  I can’t deny there are some very odd things that we Aussies say (from time to time) and I wonder how they must sound to others!  Add a broad ‘ocker’ accent to the mix and you will be lost forever trying to make sense of our (dare I admit .. sometimes ridiculous) banter!

It’s clear that Aussies take every opportunity to ‘pull your leg‘ so my advice is to go with the flow, enjoy our lingo but don’t take it all too seriously!

Have you come across any Aussie comments that you thought were funny and want to share?  Have you ever had a vegemite sandwich?  Share your favourite experience with the Aussie lingo with us…
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