So, you think you know the Australian lingo?
BEFORE the Pacific island was colonized by Europeans in the late 1700s, over 15 aboriginal languages were spoken across Australia.
Most of these original languages have now become dormant and been replaced with English as Australia’s official language. But it’s not the same English language spoken in England, Jamaica, Singapore, or even Ireland, where English is also the official language.
According to The Story of Australian English author Kel Richards, there is no such thing as a definitive English language anymore, “only Englishes, only dialects.”
And Australia is a perfect example of that.
Richards explained to ABC News that when the First Fleet arrived in Australia, hundreds of people from all over the UK disembarked and realized they had to level down their English dialects to find a mutual dialect that everyone could understand.
But instead of ridding themselves of dialects, all the dialects from the UK that had made it to Australian were, in time, merged into one, creating the Australian dialect and unmistakable accent.
The twang of the Australian accent is easy to follow, albeit while wondering if every sentence is a question given the rising intonation of the accent.
However, it’s the dialect which has developed over the centuries that can often confuse foreigners.
Any fluent English speaker who has visited Australia will admit that more than a few slang terms have come as surprise, and perhaps the misinterpretations have come as an embarrassment.
Here are a few phrases you should probably get to grips with before you travel to the land down under.
Thongs (Flipflops): “I’ll wear my thongs to the beach for the barbie later.”
Barbie (Barbeque): “You haven’t really experienced Australia unless you have a barbie on the beach”
Arvo (Afternoon): “I’ll meet you in the coffee shop this arvo.”
Chocka-a-block (Busy): “I wouldn’t take the freeway if I were you mate, it’s chocka-a-block.”
Dinky-di (Someone with ancestral roots to the first migrants in Australia): “She’s a dinky-di through and through.”
Fair dinkum (Fair enough): “We debated about the color of the dress until the early hours, but in the end, I just had to say, “Fair dinkum, it’s white and gold.”
G’day (Good day): “G’day mate.”
Heaps (Lots of something): “Look into that field, there are heaps of kangaroos.”
Kangaroo loose in the top paddock (Away with the fairies): “There’s this boy in my class who always stares out the window, something tells me there’s a kangaroo loose in the top paddock with that one.”
Yeah-nah (Refusing something): “I know you asked me about the party ages ago, but yeah-nah, I’m not coming.”
Ripper (Awesome): “I went to the beach this morning and surfed some ripper waves.”
Middle of whoop whoop (Gone a long way away): “After the breakup, he just didn’t want to see her anymore, so he got a job in the middle of whoop whoop.”
Far out (Something unbelievable): “So, you’re telling me she’s 12 years old and not just a maths genius but a professional pianist too? That’s far out.”
Bathers (Swimming costume): “I know you’ve packed your thongs, but did you remember your bathers?”
Stinker (Hot day): “What an absolute stinker it is today.”
Spewin’ (Incredibly angry): “I was absolutely spewin’ about the referee’s decision.”
Coldie/Frothie (Beer): “Fancy a coldie/frothie after work mate?”
Midi (Half a pint): “I’d love to have a forthie with you after work mate, but I can only stay for a midi.”
Scooner (Pint): “Oh, go on mate, we haven’t had a proper catch up in ages, stay for a scooner.”
Bottle-O (Liquor shop): “I’m just popping to the bottle-O to grab some frothies, do you want anything?”
Snazzo (Very cool): “Have you seen the new Ritz-Carlton hotel in Perth’s city center? It’s looking very snazzo.”
Stoked (Excited): “I’m so stoked that the West Coast Eagles won the AFL premiership.”
Op-Shop (Cheap clothes stores): “The airline lost my luggage, so I need to find an Op-Shop quickly.”
Snag (Sausage): “I’m going to grill three different types of snags on the barbie tonight.”
Smoko (Short work break): “You don’t actually have to be a smoker to take a smoko, it’s just a term for all short work breaks.”
Sparrow fart (Dawn): “I was up at the crack of sparrow’s fart this morning.”
Chockers (Someone who is full of food): “That meal was delicious but I’m completely chockers now.”
Esky (Cool box): “I got all the way to Kings Park and realized I’d forgotten the esky.”
Mozzie (Mosquito): “I had an allergic reaction to the mozzie bite and my ear has swollen up.”
Roo (Kangaroo): “Careful of the roos out in the bush, they bounce out of nowhere.”
Waggin’ (Bunking off): “Do you fancy waggin’ off this afternoon and going to the beach?”