Australians have their own language

As we know, the world’s upside down in Australia, so while it’s winter here, it’s summer there.

“Take your togs or cossies, your esky packed with amber fluid and maybe a dog’s eye for a snack. Bend the elbow too much? Stop off for a long black, a short black or a flat white to make sure you don’t end up a few kangaroos (roos) loose in the top paddock.

The Washington Post published a tongue-in-cheek article about the strange colloquialisms that sprout up in Australia, “define the Australian identity and give continuity to the variety of voices and experiences that shaped the country’s history”.

The words are so commonly used that the Government of Australia has added them to their citizenship tests. As a would-be Australian, you’d better know the lingo.

“Assuming you pass the tests and move to Australia, you’ll probably find yourself flat out like a lizard drinking, that’s extremely busy, from the hard yakka or labor of your new job.

If you get time for a beach picnic try not to let the heat and beer make you chunder or vomit in the dunny, that’s toilet.”

Oh, and the translation of that first quote?

“Take your swimwear and cooler box full of beer and a meat pie to eat. A bit too much to drink? Have a small or large black espresso coffee or a white coffee to make sure you are fully compos mentis when you get home.”

G’Day, mate.

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2 thoughts on “Australians have their own language

  1. Shannon

    As an Aussie stranded in Canada, I read your post with much amusement and a little bit of homesickness too. Before anyone gets too excited, though, I have to point out that no one speaks like this on a daily basis. Or, rather, no one puts so many colloquilisms in their speech all at once! “Togs and cossies” I don’t hear very often – the common word is “bathers”; not the people, the swimsuits.

    And I miss our coffee. Tim Hortons makes me vomit. Or “chunder” – hey, do you know the Men At Work song, “Man From Down Under”? It’s famous at home. There’s a line in the chorus: “Where beer does flow and men chunder”! I also picked that one to sing at Kareoke in Japan!!

    I say “loo” more often than “dunny – but then, I’ve had to lobotomise my speech in order to be understood in Japan and even here in Canada. The best fun I’ve had is making friends with another Aussie here, who has a much stronger accent despite years of living overseas, who uses all the words I grew up with and to hell with anyone who can’t follow the conversation!

    My all-time favourite word is still “daggy”, or “dag”. I still insist using words like “esky”, “Tipex”, “ta” and normal ones like “tram” and “footpath”. I’m all for assimilation when you emigrate, but “I still call Australia home” (another famous song)!


  2. M. D. Benoit Post author

    Hey, thanks for that, Shannon. As a French Canadian from Quebec, I’ve had problems being understood by the French (from France). Every time I see their uncomprehending stares, I get nostalgic.

    On the other hand, my husband came over to Canada from Belgium with his parents, and it was also an adjustment. One day they went into the baker’s for “pistolets” (little guns), a type of roll. The baker directed them to the gun shop.

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