G'Day, Mate: Deciphering Australian Slang

G'Day, Mate: Deciphering Australian Slang

Feb 17, 2014|Cultural| by administrator

Photo by Tourism Queensland Photo by Tourism Queensland

Many countries around the world may speak the same language, but because of large geographical distances and varying cultural histories, sometimes it can be hard to understand someone who is technically speaking the same language as you. Australia, though similar to the USA in being a predominantly English-speaking country, could not be further away from American soil and language. The Land Down Under's unique dialect started developing in the 1780's when the first Australia-born children were picking up bits of English from the different British settlers, mainly those from Ireland and South East England. More than 200 years later, Australia is renowned for its unique take on the English language. With its discernible accent, what sets Australian English apart is the vocabulary that has become commonly accepted by all Australians.

1. Abbreviation of Words No word is too short to be abbreviated in Australia. Diminutives are an everyday part of Australian conversations, and if you decide to visit, you might want to consider brushing up on your "vocab". brekkie- breakfast sunnies- sunglasses arvo- afternoon Macca's- McDonald's Aussie- Australian sanger- sandwich servo- gas station (from "service station") ute- utility vehicle

2. American Meaning vs. Australian Meaning Considering it is the same language, of course there will be many of the same words. The tricky part is when those words have different meanings. boot and bonnet- trunk and hood of the car thongs- flip-flops hotel- pub or bar oldies- parents shout- to buy someone a drink Mickey Mouse- excellent, very good sherbet- beer

3. Is this even English? While I'm sure these words must have originated from somewhere, some Australian slang is so unlike other English terms for the word that the root is, quite literally,  lost in translation. woop woop- in the middle of nowhere bludger- a lazy person doovalacky- equivalent of "thingamajig" dinkum, or fair dinkum- real, genuine ("He's a fair dinkum Aussie.") goon- cheap wine in a bag or box yobbo- an uncouth and crude person