You little ripper! The beauty of the Australian Language

G’day. This arvo I’m going to write about a bonza part of Aussie life. Stralian slang. Or as we like to call it, English.

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On this blog and when I interact with other people from around the world, I’m surprised how much slang I use without even realising it. I’m often explaining some of the words I use because while it looks and sounds like English, without the context I can come off a bit strange.

Unless you are Australian, know someone who speaks in Aussie slang or have travelled extensively around this sunburnt land, this post might just scramble your brain a little bit. So cobber, grab a snag, whack on some dead horse and pick up a tinnie. Or grab a cuppa and a bikkie and relax.

Bikkie.png

I have to censor myself when I write. Sometimes phrases like ‘chuck a yuey’ don’t mean anything to anyone else. It means to perform a U-turn.  I also try and avoid doing what most Australians seem to do, which is to shorten everything and then put an O on the end. Stephen becomes Stevo; bottle shop becomes bottleo and the service station is the servo.

In my latest novel, the word ‘mate’ appears far too many times and I hardly ever use it in the same context. It can be aggressive – ‘Mate!” It can be affectionate – ‘Maaaatee.” And aurally it’s hard to mix the two up but when you are reading it, the situation has to be well defined. Also, if you’ve never heard someone use mate when expressing emotion, it can be difficult to understand.

maaate

To ‘chuck a sickie’ is also something I’ve written that’s caused some confusion. This means to call in to work sick, even though you aren’t. Maybe you had too many goon bags the night before and you chucked your guts up all over your mate Davo’s thongs. They were his good ones, double pluggers, his Sheila gave them to him for Chrissie. So you call into work and chuck a sickie.

Aussies are a pretty laid back lot on the whole. We even have multiple phrases for ‘everything will be alright.’

  • She’ll be right
  • She’ll be apples
  • No worries – I use this one a lot.

We also have a tendency to shorten everything. If you really listen to how Australians say Australia. More often than not they say Straya.

Below I’ve added a short list of the words I hear most of the time – it’s by no means complete:

G’day –  Hello

Ambo – Ambulance

Arvo – Afternoon

Oz – Australia

Bonza – Awesome

Barbie – Barbeque

Bikkie –  Sweet Biscuit

Brizzie – Brisbane

Cozzie – Swimming costume

Cobber – Friend or mate

Hard yakka – Hard work and also a brand of workwear

Snag – Sausage

Prezzie – Present

Goonbags – Cask wine

Lippy – Lipstick

Journo – Journalist

Maccas – McDonalds

Smoko – Smoking break

Cockie – Cockroach or a cockatoo

Daks – Trousers

Woolies – Woolworths

Tinnie – Beer can or a small boat

Doona – Quilt

Thongs – Flip flops

Stubbies – Small beer bottle or a pair of very short men’s shorts

I think it’s less laziness, and more that it’s sometime just too hot to pronounce full words. Maybe. Alright, perhaps we’re just lazy. Look, you won’t find people walking around just talking in full sentences of slang. Unless they are trying to over characterise an Aussie. Also, no one in Australia says, ‘Throw another shrimp on the Barbie’ We would say ‘Chuck another prawn on the Barbie.’ Shrimps are tiny, in Oz we eat big, meaty prawns!

My books are set in Australia so while I’m not writing in paragraphs of slang, sometimes I pull back on certain slang because not everyone will understand unless the meaning is absolutely clear. So instead of having a character go to ‘Woolies to pick up some dog’s eyes and dead horse.’ I would have them go to ‘the supermarket to buy meat pies and tomato sauce.’

I think all time my favourite Aussie slang is to say, ‘I’m on my Pat Malone.’ Which means I’m alone.

Share some slang specific to where you’re from! If you’re an Aussie and I’ve missed one of your favourites, then share that too! Or if you’ve heard something and you don’t know what it is, I can translate it for you. Have some fun with it!

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Photo via Arnotts
Meme by Mememate

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41 thoughts on “You little ripper! The beauty of the Australian Language

  1. love this! I recognise lots of these words and phrases, proof that an adolescence spent watching Neighbours wasn’t entirely wasted! Funnily enough words like prezzie and bikkie are quite common in my hometown, Liverpool, as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG Lisa I’m so glad that I read this post. Thanks for visiting my blog – you reminded me to come and visit yours 🙂 🙂 I’ve spent about 2 1/2 months in Australia, and this brought back many happy memories. I personally love TIM TAMS! Blessings your way Lisa.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Showing Barney – As it Comes

  4. I remember growing up on neighbours, the Robinsons, Ramseys, Mrs Mangel and Bouncer the dog.

    My favourite bits of Aussie lingo are fair dinkum, and let her rip (or you ripper).

    We were lucky in England that the BBC managed to get Richie Benaud on their cricket commentary. Could’ve listened to him all day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So, Australians do say “…on the barbie”. 😀 I always thought that phrase was just a Hollywood stereotype thing.

    I really enjoyed your list of common words. Even though, I must say: Dog’s eyes and dead horse = meat pies and tomato sauce = the most awesome What did you just say? words ever.

    “In my latest novel, the word ‘mate’ appears far too many times…” Do you feel like that word glows in the dark when you overuse it? I know when I commit word abuse, the overused word not only glows, but it’s also like someone’s shouting that word as I’m reading. 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • For sure we say on the barbie. Like for dinner we are having a barbie. I hear in a lot of US cooking shows that they ‘grill’ that is odd to me. A grills in the oven for toasted sandwiches. Yep. It does glow in the dark! Also I have a character constantly rolling his eyes and everyone nods. They all stand out. If people nodded as much as my characters do, then their heads would roll off!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m quite familiar with “mate” and “cuppa”, as they’re commonly used in the UK as well (I lived there for several years). The first time I heard someone saying, “I’m going to have a lie-in tomorrow,” I wondered why (and how) in the world they were going to have a LION! 😀 “Blimey”, “crikey”, and “dodgy” became my favourite words.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the homesick cure. Living in London and missing eating vegemite in thongs. Marmite just isn’t the same. That being said, I somehow picked up a lot of British sayings back in Straya too …
    Loved the one about cockies – forgot we used the term for both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad! It’s not just the Aussie accent. I think we have a way of speaking even if we arn’t talking in slang. I think you can pick it. Marmite. Urgh definitely not my thing either. Bit of toast, lots of butter and a little vegemite! I might have that for brekkie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah it’s strange, I’ve been living in Airbnb for a while now and the visiting French and Italians have no problem talking to each other or the Brits- all in English, but when I speak? They look so puzzled … Combo of factors.
        So jealous on the vegemite for brekkie! Enjoy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, Lisa. I love language, so it makes sense that this word-adventure would be fun. Since I write fantasy, I try to play with language and often make up my own words, including slang words and curses. It’s hard because the reader has to get the meaning without any hesitation. I can see why you didn’t go with “dog’s eyes and dead horse.” Ha ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am well familiar with a lot if not all of those due to TV and friends over the years, and also a lot of it we use here in the North east of England -I like my choccy bikkies and chuck as opposed to throw or toss, which doesnt’ go down the same in the US I found, and loads of others. Loved that, but would you consider yourself a shiela? I am never clear is that that another colloq. or sexism?

    Liked by 1 person

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