Saturday, June 21, 2008

Aussie Language Survival Guide

As I was rummaging around my stash of Australian memorabilia, I found a little yellow pamphlet with the above title. As I've mentioned before, some words and phrases that mean one thing in the States mean something totally different in Australia. I thought you'd like to see some of the different meanings.

American = Australian
or, We say = They say
biscuit = scone
cookie = biscuit (or bickie)
food = tucker
french fries = hot chips
chicken = chook
kool-aid = cordial
breakfast = breckie (they say breakfast, but they abbreviate as many words as they can)
supper = tea
late night snack = supper
cup of coffee, tea, etc. = cuppa
bell pepper = capsicum
ketchup = tomato sauce
tomato sauce = tomato puree
jello = jelly
jelly = conserve
candy = lolly
spaghetti = bolognese
shrimp = prawn
carry out (like fast food) = take away ( I remember in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, we went to McDonald's - the first time I'd eaten fast food in WEEKS...this college girl was having withdrawals! - and the girl taking my order said "Dine in or take away?" and it caught me off guard...I just stood there looking like the clueless American tourist that I was, until I finally answered her)
and finally,
vegemite = it defies's a spread, and it looks, smells, and tastes N.A.S.T.Y. Of course, I don't like raw tomatoes either.

sweater = jumper
ladies undies = knickers
swimsuit = bathers
undershirt = singlet
tennis shoes = sand shoes

Various other non-related but very interesting at least to me words:
apartment = flat
friend = cobber, digger, mate
napkin = serviette
diaper = nappy
elevator = lift
flashlight = torch
American football = gridiron
Australian football = footy (and heaven help you if you get in the way of them watching it! Of course, I wouldn't know this from experience)
gasoline = petrol
t.v. = telly
hood of a car = bonnet
trunk of a car = boot
drunk = feeling under the weather
extremely tired = knocked up (remember the phrase Elizabeth teased me with?)
way to go! = good on ya!
how are you? = how ya goin'?
don't worry = no worries
truly, really = fair dinkum
are you all right? = are you right?
check out the possibilities = sus it out
Australia(n) = Oz, Aussie
Tasmania = Tassie
busy = flat out
really busy = flat out like a lizard drinking (my personal favorite)

Now, there were a couple of times that I either messed up or nearly messed up. The times I nearly messed up were times I might have almost said "blood" with a "y" attached to it, as in: I screamed b----y murder when I saw that huge spider! Or even, "He has a b----y nose." That word is EXTREMELY rude, which is why I'm not spelling it out. I'm hoping Ruth and her family will read this one of these days! And I scream b----y murder all the time. Or at least when I see a huge spider.

Then there was the time that I did mess up. What do you say when you really haven't done anything all day long, just sort of this or that? Well, I say piddled. As in, I piddled around the house. In fact, when posed the question of "Heather, what did you do all day by yourself?" answer: "Oh, just piddled around the house."

You know where this is going. "Piddle" in Australia does NOT mean "doing nothing of interest." It means peeing. Yes, I told them I peed all over the house. Of course, they (meaning Stephen M, and probably Grant M and Ruth M, as well as Keith) thought that was the funniest thing they had ever heard and laughed all the way into town, with me in the back seat wishing a hole would open up in the floor board and put me out of my misery. I quickly apologized and said that I was tired and wasn't paying attention to my vocabulary, blah, blah, blah. They still laughed at me.

I can't say that word now without thinking about that faux pas and smile just a little. Of course, when I'm thinking about Tassie I can't help but smile, even if it's a memory I'd just as soon forget.


Kat said...

HAAAAY! Could you email me this? These are really good and I'd like to print them out so I can learn some of them :)

Anonymous said...

Cracking me up!! My husband recently learned that some Aussies call Americans yanks. Well, then he was told that it was turned into slang calling American tanks. Then, the Aussies that are do not care for Americans call us septic tanks. Lovely isn't it?? He spent a week this summer in a youth camp and some Aussies were working there.

You can learn some great things at summer camp. :)

-- Brandi