By: Allee Feuerman
Since Australia does not speak a foreign language like most countries across the world, you would think it would be easy to understand what they are saying. But honestly, sometimes I think it would be easier to understand these Aussie’s if they were speaking Mandarin.
Australian slang is something you will get to know pretty quickly, the minute you step off that plane. Easily, the first phrase you will hear is “G’day mate, how’re you going?”, and any sane American would think to correct going to doing, but this is a very common Australian greeting. And if you are planning a trip to the land down under any time soon, I suggest you get to studying before you make a fool of yourself in front of the locals.
The first thing you will need to know is that Aussie’s never speak in full sentences. You will rarely ever find an Australian that starts and ends their sentences with proper subject and predicate. In fact, they hardly ever finish a full word before moving onto the next. And although you may think it is silly, I think it takes real skill for both conversationalists to understand each other.
Abbreviations are an Australian’s favorite way to speak. When in doubt, you can basically just add -ie or -o to the end of any word and you will sound a bit less foreign. Instead of saying “breakfast”, because obviously that word is way too long and hard to pronounce, just say “brekkie”. And a “documentary” can be easily shortened into a quick “doco”. Here is a few more:
“Trackie”: Sweatpants or tracksuit
“Chewie”: Chewing gum
“Garbo”: Garbage collector
“Arvo”: Afternoon (not to be confused with Avo)
These Aussie’s do their very best to keep things short, simple and straight to the point; that is if you can keep up with the lingo.
Although, shortening words and phrases is not the only talent they have when it comes to Aussie slang. They have also made up plenty of words for you to study and I assure you, they are not in a dictionary. Australians have a knack for creating new names for terms that already exist. Often times it can sound like complete gibberish to anyone not born and raised in Australia, but it can be kind of endearing. Here are a few examples:
“Reckon”: (verb.) To think.
I reckon Collingwood will win the grand finals this week.
“Maccas”: (noun.) Mcdonalds.
Let’s grab Maccas on the way back from the city.
“Thongs”: (noun.) open toe sandal, flip-flops.
Throw on your thongs and bathers; we’re going to the beach.
“Bloke”: (noun.) Guy/Male.
That bloke’s a flog.
“Flog”: (noun.) an idiot.
That bloke’s a flog.
“Op Shop”: (noun.) Thrift store.
I have a few dollars to spend at the op shop.
“Ripper”: (adj.) Fantastic.
That was a ripper of a party mate!
“Goon”: (noun.) Cheap wine.
Goon gives me the worst hangovers.
“Ute”: (noun.) Pickup truck.
I’ll need the ute to work on dairy farm today.
“Doona”: (noun.) Comforter for bed spread.
Don’t hog the doona!
“Skull”: (verb.) to chug, to down.
We’ll skull a beer before the footy match.
“Tinny”: (noun.) a can of beer.
Let’s crack open a tinny.
“Bogan”: (noun) a redneck, an unsophisticated person.
Mate, what a bogan!
“Pissed”: (verb.) drunk, inebriated.
That flog was so pissed at the club.
These are just a few sayings that will continue to trip you up while trying to fit in with the locals. The list continues on, whether you can be bothered to remember all the slang or not. Be prepared to be confused and keep Google at your fingertips at all times.
If you are at the bar and an old mate (stranger or acquaintance), says he will “shout you a beer”, put your wallet back in your bag because this drink is on him. But it is common Australian courtesy that you “shout” one back, so keep your cash on hand. And if you hear someone say, “he’s blotto”, you better shout that man some water because he has had a few too many to drink.
If something is not quite going as planned, a good mate might say, “No worries, she’ll be right”, which translates to “It’s no problem, everything will be okay”. Or if you have done something quite well, your mate may say “Good on ya”, meaning “well done” or “good on you”. It may sound a bit strange, but phrases like this one will soon become second nature to you.
There are some phrases that very few people still say in Australia but are still known quite widely. If you really want to impress an Aussie or, at least, give them a laugh, here are a few old Aussie slang phrases:
- He’s got kangaroos loose in his paddock: someone who is a bit eccentric or moronic.
- Face like a dropped pie: not attractive, ugly.
- As dry as a dead dingo’s donger: very dry.
- Tough as a woodpeckers lip: very tough.
- Going off like a bag of cats/cut snake: uncontainable excited.
Aussie’s are always finding way to keep us Americans on our toes. Aussie slang is a cool and unique part of Australian culture, but if you ask someone to “throw another shrimp on the barbie”, they will surely throw you right out. No Australian calls their favorite seafood “shrimp” –they’re called prawns.
Disclaimer: Australians are very sarcastic and witty people, a lot of Aussie slang is used in a joking manner, therefore don’t take offense