Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Speaking the Lingo

We've still got a lot to learn as far as the Australian lingo goes, but it doesn't take long to learn the different terms used for things and the different ways that people speak here.

Firstly, everyone says Yip. I guess that's kind of in place of Ja. Although it's also used by some people throughout a conversation almost as if they are acknowledging what you're saying. Then there's 'mate' which is regularly used to address anyone at any time. Another word commonly used when referring especially to children is buddy.

Other words that we've got to know:
Barbies, of course!
Bickie or bikkie for biscuit
Brekkie or brekky for breakfast
Cuppa -- tea or coffee, or a tea break
Lolly -- any kind of sweet
Ice block -- ice cream on a stick
Snag -- a sausage
Fairy bread -- a kids treat made of buttered white bread cut into triangles and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands
Fairy floss -- candy floss
Good onya -- good on you or well done
Dinkum -- genuine, true or truthful -- as in fair dinkum
Doona -- duvet or quilt
Jumper -- jersey
Esky -- cool box
Sunnies -- sunglasses
Swimmers -- swimming costume
Thongs -- slip slops
Tradie -- tradesperson
Hoon -- hooligan, especially those who drive dangerously or very fast
No worries -- don't worry, you're welcome etc
Pokies -- poker machines
Ute -- bakkie
Rashie -- lycra top to give protection from the sun
Removalist -- removal company

At my local library recently I came across a book called Australian Slang which is really an entertaining read. It states the following in the introduction: "Australians do speak English, of course. But to many tourists (and even some locals), Australian English has only tenuous links with the mother tongue. Our speech is peppered with words and phrases whose arcane meanings are understood only by the initiated."

It also mentions that one of the features of Australian slang is to abbreviate words and add 'o' or 'ie' to the end. And so, barbeque becomes barbie, workers compensation becomes compo, afternoon becomes arvo.

There were some words that I'd heard and some that are generally associated with Australia:
* Billabong -- a waterhole, especially one that only receives water during the wet season
* Billy, billy can -- container, often a tin can, used for boiling water, making tea or cooking over a fire
*Boomerang -- an Aboriginal throwing stick used for hunting animals and designed to return to the thrower; also used to refer to anything that returns, such as a cheque that bounces!
* Bris-Vegas refers to Brisbane and the common opinion that Brisbane is a dull city
* Budgie smugglers -- speedos!
* Jumbuck -- sheep
* Matilda-- role of personal belongings carried by a swagman
* Youse -- plural of you -- as in 'what are youse doing later?'

Many of the terms in the book I hadn't heard, but there are some really funny words, phrases and comments and some that are really bizarre:
* all froth and no beer meaning superficial, shallow or phoney
* banana bender -- person from Queensland, while the Banana City refers to Brisbane. However the book mentions that the term is playful rather than geographically precise as most Australian bananas are grown in New South Wales!
* a barbeque stopper is a topic, statement or announcement that is so exceptionally interesting, shocking or surprising that it would stop proceedings at a barbie!
* would bet on two flies crawling up a wall -- referring to a person who is obsessed with gambling
* I hope all your chooks [chickens] turn into emus and kick your dunny [a toilet, usually an outside toilet] down -- an Australian curse
* drop bear refers to an imaginary, vicious and carnivorous relative of the koala that drops from trees onto its unsuspecting victims. The book mentions that Aussies love to scare tourists and newcomers with this story!
* got his/her licence out of a Weet-Bix/Corn Flakes packet -- for anyone who seems unqualified to perform a task that normally requires a licence
* great Australian salute -- the action of waving one's hand in front of the face to get rid of flies!
* as nervous as a mother roo in a room full of pickpockets


Bronnie said...

Loved this! We also call our swimmers 'togs' or 'cossies'.
What about "the forks" or 'two for the Gabba". You give people who are taking the piss, or just silly, the forks.
And then there's 'full of piss and wind" - someone who is up themselves.
Thanks for dropping by my blog, I think we have a lot in common living in new countries, and will be back!

Cheryl said...

Thanks Bronnie. And so many other saying in the 260 pages of Australian Slang! I'll have to look back on it again after being in Aus for a little longer. Great to have you visiting my blog. Look forward to 'chatting' more.

Andrea said...

Love love love this post....isn't it funny how we all speak english and yet it is all so different.

Keep posting, enjoying reading about your experiences.