Australia is a sparsely populated country far, far away from other English speaking nations* which means they’ve developed some enchantingly idiosyncratic turns of phrase.
* Even New Zealand isn’t that close – it’s as far away from Australia as Russia is from the UK.
Of course some Aussie lingo is internationally famous:
“No worries” is a two word embodiment of the Australian outlook on life; Male Australians do address everybody as “Mate”; And I knew I’d really arrived in Oz the first time a stranger said “G’day” to me in the lift.
And there’s some stereotypically aussie things that I have yet to hear anyone use:
Strewth, bonza, fair dinkum, flaming gallahs, tinnies, tucker and throwing shrimps on barbies must have all gone out of fashion.
But there are also some less well known words and phrases knocking about the lexicon:
- Across it –this is business jargon. Usage: “Are you across the TPS report?” Meaning: Are you aware of the contents of this totally pointless report?
- Capsicum – a pepper, might be a bell pepper, might be a chilli – to be honest, I’m not entirely sure
- Cockies – diminutive for cockroaches. We’ve been warned to expect a plague of giant cockies in summer ( joy! )
- Convos, regos, presos – short for conversations, registrations and presentations respectively
- Crazaroo – Crazy. Not actually a common phrase but too funny to leave out: a colleague recently told me he expected a conference to be Crazaroo.
- Cruisy – This one’s quite different to what the rest of the world might think. In Oz cruisy people are just easy going dudes. They are NOT (necessarily) out looking for gay sex…
- Degustation – Pronunciation: like devastation but with a g. Has the same meaning as dégustation but sounds hilarious when said in a broad aussie accent rather than an affected French one.
- Doona –duvet, see degustation for what would have happened if they’d used the same word as the UK
- Flick – Forward on an e-mail. Usage: “Let me flick this across to you”
- Footy – a deceptively tricky one this. If an aussie asks you to the footy they could be inviting you to watch 11 blokes kicking a round ball or 15 men chucking an egg shaped ball across the pitch, or even an unknown number of men doing something unspeakable known as “Aussie Rules”
- Lollies – Any kind of sweet, with or without a stick. This is particularly ironic when the sweet shop is called the British Lolly Shop like the one near our flat.
- Panadol – generic term for pain killer, not one specific brand
- Rugged up – a person who is wrapped up warm
- Schoolies – when high school graduates go on holiday with each other just after their final exams. The rest of the country is generally horrified by their behaviour. Sounds pretty similar to spring break in the US
- Screenies, stubbies and sunnies – screenshots, bottles of beer and sunglasses respectively
- ‘Strine – The language spoken by ‘Strines. Or “Australians” in a dialect that doesn’t omit so many consonants
- Swimmers – useful catch all term for bikinis, swimming costumes, shorts etc
- Thongs – flip flops. Not the skimpy pants favoured by Peter Stringfellow
- Toolies – people who are not high school graduates who hang around in areas where schoolies are behaving in a debauched fashion.
- Uey – a U-turn. Note: one doesn’t make or take a Uey, one hangs, chucks or throws one. For instance “hang a Uey by the dingo Bruce”
- Utes – short for a utility vehicle. They’re called pick ups in the US, bakkies in South Africa and they don’t have a special name in the UK. We are thinking of buying one to tour the country bogan style later in the year