.. and she said, “Do you come from the land Down Under”?
A visit to the land Down Under will be full of interesting experiences but the one which is most fun will have you trying to make sense of our ‘lingo’. Aussies are known to put a unique twist on the English language and the use of unusual colloquialisms will confuse even the most ‘clued-up‘ traveler!
It often confuses …
and we like that!
Australians have a quirky sense of humour and take every opportunity to make fun where we can. We often we do that with our language!
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 evolved from all who have settled here
Australia is a nation of many cultures. Many of us are direct descendants of the convicts who were sent to settle Australia from England in the late 1700s. Many of these were 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.
For example: agro = aggressive or journo = journalist or add an ‘o’ to someone’s name Craigo – Craig or Damo = Damien. There is no rationale to it all, but it makes sense to us! Think of these additions as a ‘term of endearment’ in recognition of acceptance.
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 often 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
A number of Aussie writers, musicians and poets have woven our unique and quirky sayings into songs and poems which have immortalised our uniqueness … and our language.
Men at Work have used a number of Australianisms in their 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! 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!
Don’t be a ‘Galah’
‘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!
We’re a curious mob
We Aussies are a strange bunch. We have been known to enjoy proving someone wrong and as such, 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!
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 their 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!