An Introduction to the Australian Language
Although English is Australia’s official language, when Australians speak to each other, they use a lot of made-up words and expressions which are a kind of ‘code’.
You may have even heard some of these before, especially if you have seen Australian movies,
television shows, visited downunder or have spent time hanging out with Brett.
In each of our newsletters, we introduce our readers to a new “Aussie” word or phrase. As we do so, we’ll include the words here.
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Beyond the Black Stump: far away from the city; the Outback
Bingle: Minor car accident. “He’s been in a small bingle”
Brekkie: breakfast – “Our son loves Vegemite on toast for brekkie”. While PB&J is a favorite in the US, it is pretty much unknown in Australia. Instead kids grow up with Vegemite – a black spread made from yeast extract that has a very pungent smell. If you’re interested in trying it, you can pick up a jar from Cost Plus World Market (warning: use it very sparingly).
Bush: the country, anywhere that isn’t in town “Let’s go bush for the weekend (leave town)
Bush bashing: four wheel driving, off roading, driving where there are no roads
Cooee: Has become a notional distance. If he’s within cooee, we’ll spot him.
Cozzi : Swimming costume. “Bryce, be sure to bring your cozzie in case we go swimming at Jamie’s”
Doovalacky: Used whenever you can’t remember what something is called. Sometimes also referred to as a Thingummyjig. “Have you seen the Doovalacky for …”
Esky : Portable icebox or cooler – it’s always a good idea to have an esky in the car boot (trunk) stocked with some cold ones (beers) just in case the party’s bar runs dry.
Hard yakka: means work, strenuous labour. “It’s going to be hard yakka cleaning up this yard.”
Fair Dinkum: Kosher, the real thing – as in “Fair Dinkum Aussie” (true blue Aussie original). Often used by itself as a rhetorical question to express astonishment verging on disbelief … “Fair Dinkum, mate?” (you’ve got to be kidding, haven’t you?)
Flat out like a lizard drinking: lying prone. Also rushed, extremely busy.
G’Day: Universal greeting, used anytime day or night, but never as a farewell. “G’day” is usually followed by “mate”. Did you know it is almost impossible to say “Good Eye Might” without sounding Australian? Give it try!
G’Donya: Good for you!, Well done! Can also be sarcastic or mean: “I don’t believe you”
Galah: Noisy fool. “Crikey, that guy is an absolute galah!” Named after the Australian bird of the same name – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galah
Garbo or Garbologis : City garbage collector
Larrikin: a bloke who is always enjoying himself, harmless prankster. “Our 5 year old son Bryce can be quite the larrikin at times.”
No worries: Expression of forgiveness or reassurance. (No problem; forget about it; I can do it; Yes, I’ll do it)
Ripper: Pronounced “rippa” means beaut, tip-top, great, wonderful. Annette overhead Brett saying “You little ripper mate” to their 4 year son Bryce after he successfully made it up a steep climb on his bike.
She’ll be right mate: No problem, don’t worry, everything will work out fine.
Sickie: Day off sick from work. “I’m going to chuck a sickie today” (take the day off sick from work when you’re perfectly healthy!)
Strewth : Pronounced “sta-ruth” … general exclamation of disbelief or shock. “Strewth, can you believe how much that home sold for?!”
Swagman or Swaggie: A man who travels around the country on foot and takes odd jobs usually in the outback. The swagman was made famous in Banjo Patterson’s song Waltzing Matilda.
Tinny: can of beer. “Help yourself to a tinny out of the esky (cooler)”. We’re guessing a few of these were consumed this past Superbowl Sunday.
Tall Poppy: a successful person. Tall poppy syndrome : a cultural tendency to cut people down to size, criticize people who excel or achieve significantly or publicly above others.
Useful as an ashtray on a motorbike: unhelpful or incompetent person or thing.
Walkabout: A period of wandering, usually in reference to Australian Aborigines. Also someone who does so. “Mike’s off on a 3 month walkabout (Mike’s travelling on a 3 month sabbatical)”
Wobbly: Excitable behaviour. “I complained about the food and the waiter threw a wobbly.”