Monday, April 14, 2008


I used the word “heaps” the other day and thought I’d mention a few more words and phrases I hear often.

Good on ya - I like this. It’s a positive, congratulatory ‘way to go’ sorta phrase. Expect me to come back using it.

Can’t be bothered - People say this one a lot when they’re talking about being lazy. “I have the book in my room, but I can’t be bothered going upstairs.” It’s not something you would never hear in the States, but definitely a phrase that comes up often here.

No worries - The Aussie cliché, I suppose. People say it in the States these days too, but it’s still common here. For me this seems more like the Australian way of life than just a phrase.

Mate - Speaking of clichés...But yes, everyone is mates in Oz. We took a cab with an Australian guy once and between him and the driver, they must have said “mate” at least nine times. It makes everyone sound extra friendly.

Nice - I find some people say “nice” where Americans would more often say “good.” We use it most often when we’re analyzing the day’s meal. “This curry is nice,” “The cake is nice today,” etc.

Sweet as - (Not to be confused with “sweet ass.”) This is actually more from New Zealand, but some people have picked it up here. It’s basically “awesome,” “cool,” or “sweet.” I don’t know why they say “as” because they never follow it with a comparison to anything. This bugs a friend of mine who always wants to know “Sweet as what?” If you ever hear me say this, I am clearly trying too hard. I hope it never happens.

Doona - I learned this week that this is a duvet or quilt. It’s a trademark that people use generally now, like Kleenex, Band-Aid, Frisbee, etc.

Bogan - A bogan is a lower class Australian usually from a rural or poorer area. It was first explained to me as someone from the country, a “hick,” but I learned at our house’s Bogans and Billionaires Party that it’s a little different from American white trash. Short rugby shorts, high socks, flip-flops thongs, flannel, Ugg boots, black jeans, wifebeater shirts, cigarettes and cheap beer seem to be key to the bogan lifestyle. People use “bogan” in a general sense too when they don’t dress up, like when my neighbor goes down to dinner in a mismatched t-shirt and shorts with Uggs because she can’t be bothered to change.

A lot of words are just shortened versions of English words. I find a lot of them endearing.

Sunnies - sunglasses
Swimmers, Bathers - swimsuit
Lollies - candies
Arvo- This one means afternoon. I’m not sure where they get the V, but oh well.
Derro - Maybe not so endearing, this is a homeless person, i.e. derelict. Often also an “alco.”
Bikies - This is hilarious because it's what they call bikers, like rough and tough guys on Harleys. But how cute does it make them sound?

One example of making a word longer rather than shorter, is sprinkles. I'd expect them to be called "sprinkies" or "sprinko," but they actually call them "hundreds and thousands." Charming, if not too poly-syllabic.

And no, they don’t say “crikey,” so don’t even ask.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love learning about linguistic quirks like this! On your list, I think my favorite is "lollies" and "good on ya." :)

Ari (Baking and Books)