Thursday, December 10, 2009

Speak Australian!

Last night, we were walking to the train station, downtown in Melbourne. An unkempt old guy heard either Tom or I talking to an Australian pub quiz team mate. He looks up from what appeared to be some kind of roadside-sorting-garbage-from-recycling project and, with a gravely voice, hollers, "Speak Australian!".

What could this mean?

Though imitating an Australian accent still escapes us, we're starting to understand our new tribe better. Sometimes we even answer the phone, assuming we'll catch about half of what's said and can knit the rest together in context. Anyway, I've noticed we have actually adopted some basics of Aussie slang:
  • You put trash in "the bin".
  • One should have a "proper" dinner (apparently, according to Tom anyway, smoothies are "improper").
  • When there is plenty of something, you have "heaps" of it.
  • A combination of reasoning facts with a feeling is when you "reckon". I love this has a nice way about it...who doesn't want their opinion asked...for example, "Do you reckon I should wear a sweater tonight?"
  • Wear your "bathers" in the pool and "trainers" on your feet to do "sport" (it's not plural, unlike "maths". Go figure.)
  • Men who are friends with other men are "mates", but if you don't like someone too much, he's more of a "bloke".
  • When you're really happy with your mate who does something especially brilliant, tell him, "you're a legend", or if you're in a hurry, drop the a and just say, "you're legend".
  • If you're surprised, you're "gobsmacked".
  • Drank too much, you're "pissed". Tired? You're "stuffed" or "nackered".
  • Paint your mouth with "lippie".
  • If it's candy, but not chocolate, that is a "lolly".
  • A convenience store is a "milk bar".
  • You can buy second hand items at an opportunity shop, aka "Op shop".
  • Gifts are "prezzies".
  • When you buy the next round of drinks, it's your "shout".
  • Don't be nosy, or you'll be a "stickybeak". And don't brag about your good fortune, either, you "tall poppy".
  • A small pup truck is a "ute" (utility vehicle).
  • The last letter of the alphabet is "zed".
Frankly, I feel like an impostor when I use any of these. Do the real Australians know we are just pretending to fit in when we use these words? Do they even know we don't say these things in America? Are strangers on the street going to hear us trying to use these phrases and shout us down, like Trashman? Cause that really hurts you know.

I still order a "pop" to drink (met with blank stares). I dig through my wallet for "nickels or dimes". Australia doesn't even bother with "pennies" anymore...they just round off. I might still ask you to hold the "elevator". And if I ask you over for "tea", best to clarify if you're going to get a piece of meat and some "veg", usually around early evening time, or just a "cuppa" hot water steeped with leaves.

Chances are, and only because I'm still learning the lingo, you're just getting the beverage. Maybe a Reese's if there are any left.

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