Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Translation Tuesday -Dedicated to Bridging (or Widening) the Cultural Divide

QIMP's Guide to Speaking Aussie

In the interests of making myself understood in my posts , I usually censor what I write. I try really hard not to use too many Australian-isms. However I did a post recently where clearly my “I must censor my Australian-ness” was turned off and judging by your comments it threw a bunch of you.   And apparently Google doesn’t provide a translator function for “ Australian. “ Bummer.  Are our languages really that different? I mean after all we’re all speaking English right?

Many of you will have learnt Aussie English from Crocodile Dundee, and Steve Irwin. A hot tip here , nobody I know runs around using phrases like “Crikey”, “Strewth” and “Thats not a knife – this is a knife “ in everyday conversation. And not many people wear those naff little leather vests and hats with crocodile teeth in them either (Aussie clothing is another post and I’m still working on that one ) Thinking all Australian's are represented by crocodile wranglers , real or fictional, is like us thinking you all live like The Sopranos (particularly if you live in New Jersey ) , or that all Americans talk in Gangsta rap and that your lives are like an episode of Eastenders.

Australians are a plain speaking people. Many of us don’t use two words where only one will do. We like to give people nicknames. If your name is David, Michael or Steven you’ll be known as Dav-o, Mick or Stev-o. Tracey will be Trace, Amanda will be Mandy, and Karen will be Kazza. That’s just the way this country rolls. When introduced to an Australian you’ll never know what their actual name is. Accept it – move on. Use the nickname. My husband had to use my real name when we got married to make it legal and I’d only heard him call me by my birth name twice before that. I’m sure he's  still wondering exactly who he married.

We are really big on shortening words here. I think that’s because our country is so bloody hot most of the time  the longer your mouth is open to speak, the faster you become dehydrated. Therefore ,university becomes uni. Service station becomes servo and afternoon becomes arvo. Yeah- basically we’re lazy and trying to conserve our saliva.

So if you'll throw another prawn on the barbie, and chuck me some cackleberries , I'll pull up a stump and do some translations for ya. Afterwards we'll go for a drive to the back of beyond and grab some moo juice.
On  Common Household Items
Bogroll- toilet paper
Idiot box - television (because watching television turns you into an idiot)

All of the following terms are used to describe something that is a long way away, or in a very remote place, which in Australia is pretty much anywhere that isn't a capital city. Or somewhere that's further than 250 kilometres up the road.

Woop Woop , Beyond the black stump, Middle of nowhere , The Never Never

On gambling
Scratchy - instant lottery ticket.
One armed bandit- slot machine (because they used to have one arm you pull to make it work and they steal your money)
Chook Raffle- Chook raffles are most often run in pubs, in the afternoon after work. For about a buck you get a ticket and you can win a chicken, or a meat tray or something you can take home to placate your wife. Along with your beer breath.

On Occupations
Wharfie - dock-worker.
Firie - member of the fire brigade.
Sparkie - electrician.
Postie - postman.
Dishpig - person that washes the dishes in a restaurant
Ambo- Paramedic
Police Officer- Cop, and police station is known as the Copshop.
Garbo - garbage collector (They get paid very well in this country )

To insult somebody
Calling someone "About as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike / tits on a bull " implies they are pretty much incompetent.
Fruit loop - someone who is thought to be not the full quid
He's a six pack short of a carton - used to brand someone crazy
He has kangaroos loose in the top paddock - as above
Not the full quid - means the person is stupid
Sandwich short of a picnic - crazy
Dag - a nerd (but usually said affectionately)
To be "up yourself" is to think you're better than you actually are.
If elastic was sense he wouldn’t have enough to make a budgies garter...he's stupid

Wow ! There are so many ways to insult people in Australia !

On Transport and Driving
Service Station- Gas station
Gas- Petrol
Ute - The Australian version of a pickup truck
Shank's Pony - to walk somewhere
Pedal to the metal - driving fast
Prang - a vehicular accident
SUV - 4 wheel drives.
Chuck a u-ey- Turn around 180 degrees.
Yank tank - Large American car.

On drinking alcohol
Turps, hit the - go on a drinking binge.
Grog - booze, alcohol.
Blotto/Legless  - very drunk.
Bottlo- the liquor shop
Beer O clock -in Australia it's always Beer O Clock !
To crack a tinnie- open a beer

On being sick /ill/hungover
Spewing - vomitting
Heave - to vomit.
Crook -To be sick (not necessarily alcohol related )
Chuck, chunder, spew , do a Technicolour yawn, upchuck or to drive the porcelain bus all indicate vomitting
Chuckin'  a sickie - take a day off work (usually used when you pretend to be sick and do something pleasurable like go to the beach or the cricket  for the day instead )

On illegal activity
Five-finger discount -  shoplifting.
Shonky-dubious, or not the genuine article
Crook - slang for a criminal type or someone who duds you

On emotion
Spewin' - very angry.
Dummy spit -  to get very angry and lose it totally
Doing your block-Losing your cool.

On swearing
Words the rest of the world thinks are swear words aren't swear words here. Seriously. None of the phrases below are swears here. Actually if I listed all the things that aren't swears here you'd probably fall asleep halfway through ...

Bloody Oath - I'm telling you the truth
Give it a rest - Shut up
Pig's arse! -: I don't agree with you
Piece of piss - an  easy task.
To be Up shit creek without a paddle  means you're having a problem or you're really  stuck.
I hope you feel more confident about visiting our country now you know the lingo. Now, for practice I want you all to write a post using 10  Aussie words  because it would be kinda cool not to run every single post you all  write through Google Translator.

P.S. It took me about 45 minutes to spell check this post because Blogger didn't recognise about 90% of it....


GaAm said...

I love these posts. I get my Australianisms from Project Runway - Australia. I love that show (are they making another????) Was never a Croc Dundee fan. I did watch Steve Irwin, but I figured he must have lived somewhere where the speech patterns were exaggerated, or he just did it for the sake of "the idiot box".

Unknown said...

Absolutely hillarious blog today! I tell you, there must be some Aussie blood around Canada or we love the expressions so much that we use them...or we practice so that if we go there we won't be so ignorant with the language.
I think also that few words are spoken in case the flies get into the throat and you may be up the creek if you know what I mean.
We also have spellings that are different from our American cousins...favourite is one that comes to mind, and before is another.
You are just too funny for words..oh we do love the Dundee hats though, so much more stylish that the ugly Tilley.

Paulette said...

Very helpful, but what about "naff," "duds," and "quid?" ;)

We have some of the same expressions. My favorites are the ones to describe stupid/crazy people. A few bricks short of a load, not the sharpest tool in the shed, not the brightest light bulb, or not the brightest crayon in the box, etc. At my first job, the boss was always saying, "He couldn't pour piss out of a boot..." which I figured meant someone was stupid but it didn't make much sense until someone told me the last part of the expression was "...if the instructions were on the heel."

Brenda said...

My favortie translation yet! My grandma (from Ireland) called parakeets "budgies" too. Also, I guess I have never heard you say "Crikey", so it's good you've laid that to rest.

AnnieO said...

"English" is a relative term, then, in Australia?

Shevvy said...

I got most of my appreciation of aussie lingo from early neighbours and home and away!
I confess I probably would sound to you like I was in Eastenders but we don't usually do rhyming slang!
I try and not use slang in my blog but got caught out the other day using the term "natter". It never occured to me that wasn't used by other english speakers.
Also, I speak English and spell things English - there are 'U's in certain words that make me twitch when they are missing.
Most of it I find you can infer what is being said, even if it is a new term. In the uk slang evolves so quickly and there are so many regional variants. I still can't understand a Geordie in full flow! They are in a league of their own.

Alisa said...

I must be more Australian than I thought, most of those phrases/words made total sense to me. Must be all that Quigley Down Under I've watched.

Michelle said...

Another fun post! We have some of those words/phrases here, and others I could probably glean from the context, but there are some of those for which I'd truly need a translation.

Btw, I live in Nevada. The bars never close here (and some counties have legalized prostitution in brothels), so I totally understood "beer o' clock." ;-)

seabreezequilts said...

Must take you ages to think up these post. I am never called Mandy (or only once, never again) except my Dad and Sister can't stop them (typical bloody family they always do crap to annoy you). Actually my husband calls me Bob (always has), I know I am in deep shit when he calls me Amanda. One of his friends, new girlfriends thought my name must be Roberta or something, in fact the truth is he didn't want anyone to know he was going out with someone so he told them he was going for a drink with his mate Bob for a few weeks until he let me meet them and it just stuck for 20 odd years. Confuses the hell out of the kids, why do you have lots of names mum?

Sarcastic Quilter said...

I have many things I want to say about this post an the -isms but, well, I don't want to overshadow your lesson so I'll just say, I've used spew on more than one occassion.

I don't say "pig's arse" but I will say "pig's ass". :D

Up shit creek without a paddle, I'm sure, travelled to America from some Aussie.

Finally, I'll bet even in Australia, Fuck is still a swear word. :)

Do you miss my comments still or would you like me to return to my silent lurking from afar. hehe

Sarcastic Quilter said...

Oh and one more thing. I can slip into accents pretty easily so on any given day, when I get really angry, my kids laugh hysterically b/c I mix my southern TN drawl with my upstate NY phrases and my hard "r's" from my NY City friends all into one sentence.

If you don't assume we all sound like one thing, maybe you should start so it won't hurt trying to figure some of us out. :D

pwl said...

I'm not going to try to write in Aussie, but to be honest, I understood most of what you wrote without the translations. :-)

Cynthia L. said...

As usual you have come up with another great post. As others have said many of these terms are used here.

I have been trying to come up with a sentence using 10 of the words, but it is really hurting my brain! I will study the list and get back to you - Ok mate?

Baa-Me Kniits said...

If I didn't live here I would be feeling all homesick after reading your post....well done :-)

Kris said...

Hey! We Aussies definitely speak English. More English than the Americans! Lol! We natter here from time to time.

I think the most interesting use of language comes from teenagers. My 18 year old has been using "sup" in texts and emails and it has now moved to the spoken word. Everything today was, "Sup?"

Marg said...

I agree with Jenni, I would be feeling all homesick if I didn't live here already. Great post, Mrs P.

Elizabeth said...

What's a cackleberry?

Oh, and what's my nickname in Aussie.

Cheers! -E

Vesuviusmama said...

Can't belive how many words you have for vomiting - do you do it more often over there, is that why?

If I ever take a trip to the Never Never, communicating with you all will be a piece of pisd, bloody oath!