Thursday, August 13, 2009

This Place is Different (A Review of Aussie Speak)

This post has been a long time in the making. Aussies talk funny. I'll explain.

You're familiar with the Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) expression: 'G'day mate'. I've heard that here, and said it (fairly straight faced), more than a few times in the past two years. But 'G'day' and 'mate' are just the tip of the wonderful 'Aussie speak' iceberg.

First of all, we don't say 'How ya doin?" we say "How ya goin?". It's weird, and it takes some getting used to, but it has grown on me. We also don't say 'thank you' - we say 'ta' or 'good on ya'. I am a fan of the expression: 'good on ya'. Definitely one of my favourites: 'Good on ya mate!'... it just sounds happy. And the word 'mate'... really is used a lot - there's no fella, pal, buddy, dude, chief, hey you... just 'mate'!

Australians do not play paper-rock-scissors, they 'rock off'. I'm happy to say that there is much general 'rocking' in this country. I don't walk up to the bar to order a drink - I 'rock' up to the bar. Honestly. And once I've 'rocked up', a rum and coke is a 'bundy and coke'. You'll be happy to know that 'Canadian Club' is available at many places here but of course nobody understands the word 'rye'. If I ask for a 'stubbie' I mean bottle of beer. There are also four sizes of draft beer: pot, schooner, pint, or jug (in that order). If I pull the chute on a social function or even just leave the bar too early, I have 'piked' - and will be justifiably called a 'piker' by my 'mates'. If I stay but get drunk too quickly, I might be called a 'two pot screamer'. Although I'm pretty sure that one applies only to the ladies. And if you buy someone a drink, or a meal... you are 'shouting' them a drink or a meal - and 'Good on ya mate.'

There's some interesting jobs in Aussie Land. A 'sparky' is an electrician. And a 'firey' is firefighter. A 'journo' is a journalist. Aussie soldiers are called 'diggers' (because they dig ditches). An ambulance driver is an 'ambo'. And these expressions are 'main stream' terminology we might hear on the evening news. An ambulance vehicle is itself also called 'ambo' for that matter. Transportation in general can be a bit confusing. An SUV is a ‘4-Wheel-Drive’. A pick-up is a ‘ute’. And a big transport truck is a ‘road train’.

Many strange things seem to get 'chucked' here. To 'chuck a sickie' is to call in sick and not come to work. To U-turn is to 'chuck a U-eee'. If I'm actually sick, or hung over, or just not feeling well: I'm 'crook'.

There are some expressions that can't be translated directly because they only exist here. 'Sunday session' - is when one goes to the bar at around noon on Sunday to get drunk and party all day and still be in bed by 7 pm ('ish) and comfortably up for work early on Monday morning. It's a pretty reasonable idea I think. They also have a verb here that I can't translate directly and I am thankfull that it does not exist back in Canada. To 'glass' someone means to 'stab them with a broken bottle'. As in "there was a mild 'glassing' at the pub last night". For example: if a 'footy' team gets into a 'punch up' with some 'bikies', someone is possibly getting 'glassed'. I’m serious. We hear that verb on the news regularly. A 'punch up' is a bar fight or a brawl. A 'bikie' is a member of a motorcycle gang. And a 'footy' player (as I have written here before) is one of four potential types of athletes depending on exactly where you are: soccer, rugby union, rugby league, or Australian rules football. Also, a police station is a 'cop shop',

Bikinis are called 'togs', I think. 'Jim-jams' are pyjamas. Jogging pants are 'trackies', running shoes are 'joggers'. All sweaters and sweatshirts are 'jumpers' unless they have a hood ('hoodies'). And if you are cold you 'rug-up'. As for food: or 'tukka' (which is more like wild berries and stuff but sometimes it also just means 'food' - unless you specifically say 'bush tukka'). Breakfast is 'brekkie'. A freezie is an 'ice block'. A sausage is a 'sanger' or a 'snag'. All shrimp are 'prawn'. Thus - nobody here has ever had 'shrimp on the barbie'. But everyone has a 'barbie' (with no lid – rarely a barbecue lid). Macdonald's is Makka's (spelled just like that: 'Makka's' - even on billboards). In the morning, 'bikies' can have 'brekkies' at 'Makka's'. The word 'full' can be directly translated to 'chockers'. As in..."More tukka? No thanks 'mate', I've had 'heaps', I'm 'chockers'." And 'heaps' of course, is the standard word used to describe 'a lot' of something. An 'esky' is a cooler. I don't think I have to tell you where they got that one. The general word for all candy is 'lollies'. A friend of mine (before I knew him well) asked me before a volleyball training session one day if I would like a 'lolly' as he offered me a tic-tac. I honestly thought he was making fun of me. Alcohol is often called 'grog' and sometimes referred to as 'piss'. But to 'take the piss out of someone' is to make fun of them.

Mosquitoes are 'mozzies'. To whine is to 'whinge'. Children are 'nippers'. Your dad is often 'old boy'. A car trunk is a 'boot'. For instance: "The old boy told his little nippers to stop whinging about the mozzies.’ Or ‘I’ve got grog in the boot’. Incidentally, passengers in a car are free to drink in a moving vehicle – but all cyclists must wear helmets. Gargabe is 'rubbish'. A bathroom is a 'dunny'. Especially an outhouse ('outback dunny'). A 'doco' is a documentary. An environmentalist is a 'greenie'. Perhaps one might have reason to say: "That whingy greenie doco was rubbish so I chucked it in the dunny." A couple does not 'kiss' or 'make out' or 'neck' here, they 'pash'. Interestingly, a laptop computer and a lap dance are both 'lappies'. Slot machines are 'pokies'. If you want to ask for cash back from a bank card payment... you MUST say the words 'cash out' and NOT 'cash back'. I did that wrong in a quiet little book store one day and frightened the lady behind the counter - she gave me a brief horrified look before composing herself and correcting me. It then occurred to me that she had momentarily thought she was actually being robbed. That is completely true. I was briefly mistaken for a 'bookstore robber'. I subsequently started to shave more often.

Afternoon is 'arvo'. Spelled just like that: a.r.v.o. (I think it's in the dictionary). A person from Queensland is a Queenslander. Queenslanders enjoy having a few 'stubbies' and 'chucking' some 'snags' on the 'barbie' on a Sunday 'arvo'. A red-neck is a 'bogan' or an 'ocker' spelled 'ocka' I think. Interestingly, down here in the southern hemisphere red-neck geography is backwards: most of the 'bogans' live up in the northern state of Queensland (as opposed to the southern states of Texas and Mississippi back in North America).

A tattle-tale is a 'dobber' that has 'dobbed' on someone. The word 'yakka' means work. We don't think - we 'reckon'. We are not fond of things - we are 'big on' them. We do not make mistakes - we 'stuff things up' (or 'stuff stuff up' if you want to be a goof). And to succeed at something is to 'crack it'.

And for the grand finale: when a young man is speaking to girl with the intent of getting a date - he is 'tuning' her. Yes, you read that correctly. He is 'tuning' her. Just like a piano.