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The Australian Difference

  • Blog Post by: Emily Atmore
  • October 18, 2013 - 10:02 PM

            Since landing in the Sydney airport 3 months ago I have been amending a list of cultural differences I have encountered while in Australia. Although Australia is a very Westernized country that speaks English, there is a world of differences. Many might even beg to differ that Australian English could classify as an entirely different language.

I will begin with a list of Aussie slang and an interpretation.

All “r’s” are left unpronounced.

            “Come here” sounds like “Come hea”

            Car sounds like “Caw”

            Australians explain that American’s waste half of their life pronouncing their “r’s”

Keen

            Enthusiastic positive response to a request or an activity. A want to do something.   

            “I’m keen to go the beach later”

Heaps

            A lot or lots.

What’s doing?

            “What are you up to?”

How are you going?

            “How are you?”

            So many times I froze at this question not sure whether to answer how I was or where I was going

What’s on?

            “What’s happening?” or “What’s the plan?”

To Have

            Instead of to take. “I’ll have a nap” or “I’ll have a shower” instead of “I’ll take a nap”

“Mine” / “Yours”

             “My place / your place”

Good on ya

            “Good for you!”

Cheers

            Thank you.

Ta

            Thank you (less used).

No worries

            “No problem” - I’ve picked this phrase up.

Pissed / Wrecked

            Drunk.

Arvo

            Afternoon.

“Too Easy”

            “Great!”

Saying “hey” after everything

            “Last night was fun, hey!” or “hey?” instead of asking “what?”

Mate

            Refers to a friend. However, they also use it as a derogatory term. An Australian friend was driving us one day and yelled out angrily at another driver in traffic, using profanity but still referring to the driver as “mate” – Australians are always friendly.

Bogan

            Also a “wanker”. Comparable to a hick or redneck, but Australians would cringe at this comparison. A slang term for an uneducated person.

Partner

            Wife or Husband. This is used commonly.

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Some geography.

Brisbane

            “Brisbin”

Cairns

            “Cans”

Melbourne

            “Melbin”

The Bush

            Rural areas.

The Outback

            Central Australia.

Kiwi

            A New Zealander.

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Places and things.

Uni

            University

College

            High School

Toilet/Dunnie

            Bathroom.  Australians will stare at you blankly if you ask for the "bathroom"

Chemist

            Pharmacist

Bottle-O

            Liquor store

Holiday

            Vacation

Mcdonald’s

            Maccas. Australians really like nicknames.

Tim tams

            The best dessert ever. Similar to a prepacked s’more dipped in a chocolate.

Mum

            Mom

Bub

            Baby

Lemonade

            Sprite

Lollies

            All candy

Boot

            Trunk of a car

Singlet

            Tank top/ sleeveless shirt.

Goon

            Boxed wine. A popular favourite among Uni students, and broke international students. Alcohol is heavily taxed in Australia.

Trolly

            Shopping cart. We use these on a regular basis to truck our groceries home.

Chips

            French fries. One of the first weeks I went to a food counter to order fries and told myself a thousand times I was going to be “cool” and say “chips”, but as I spoke “french fries” came out. The guy told me they didn’t have any of those but they did have some chips. I was a little disappointed in my efforts. But I definitely have it down now.

Sunnies

            Sunglasses

Thongs

            Not underwear. Sandals/flip flops.

Pokie

            Small scale casino with slot machines.

Pyjamas or Tyres

            Use “Y” in words that American English does not.

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Below is a list of other differences that I have noted during my time here

All foods are much healthier tasting.

            Food at the supermarket is made with less artificial ingredients, many of those that are used in America are illegal in other countries.

            When we first arrived at our apartment we had no food and no utensils so we ordered Chinse takeout. We were surprised at the freshness and taste of the food. We didn’t have that familiar bloated feeling after finishing a delicious plate of American Chinese assortments.

There is no tipping in Australia.

            This includes everyone from waiters, to hair dressers and cab drivers. Tipping is of course always appreciated but is never ever expected. Minimum wage is much higher in order to accommodate for this. In addition, minimum wage increases with age.

American magazines distributed in Australia use Australian slang.

            I was surprised to open my favourite magazine -which was 5 dollars more here I may add- and find some of the slang terms used above. One particularly different term, was “lovefriend” – referring to a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The relaxed nature of the Australian culture.

            Everyone jokes about the laid back beach style of Australia, but I was surprised to find it to be true. Of course not everyone surfs, but almost everyone is involved in outdoor activities – and I have seen quite a lot of long blonde haired men. Shoes are always optional unless in upscale restaurants or hotels. Timing is casual. Even public transportation runs almost always behind schedule. This usually was not a problem, except for one day when the bus was an hour and a half late. That was a moment when the Australian time was too casual for our transportation needs. In restaurants, service is very slow. Trying to get a quick bite to eat at a sit down restaurant is an impossibly frustrating task. Despite this, we have come to love Australian time (for the most part) and will likely have a rude awakening when we arrive back in the States and are expected to join the hustle and bustle of American culture.

Not only do cars drive on the left side, people walk on the left side.

            We caught on to this fairly quickly. In addition to cars driving on the left side of the road, people, when walking in crowds or along sidewalks always divert to the left side. This seemingly simple idea was a difficult task to ingrain in our trained brains. We so wanted to join the normal flow of foot traffic and avoid those awkward back and forth confrontations with strangers. By now we are able to naturally gravitate to that side of the road. But we will have to “un-learn” this when retuning to the States.

Even with just one month left in Australia,

The Journey Surely Continues.

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