Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Australian English

In Australia, I would probably be called “The Plastic Pom”, although maybe such a title would better serve an Australian living in England.

For those of you who don’t know, Pom is a term of endearment that our Australian cousins like to call people from Britain. It’s a bit of a weird name to be called and, from what I’ve read, nobody really knows where the name originates from. Some say it comes from POHM, meaning “Prisoners Of His Majesty”; others say that it is short for pomegranate, derived from the colour that pale English skins became when exposed to the sun down under.

Either way, I like the word, though I’m not sure that I like being called a Pom to be perfectly honest. As far as our Australian brethren are concerned, we simply call them Aussies.

All this shows that there is healthy banter between our two nations. We are fiercely competitive but to be honest I think we like each other, probably because we share the same sense of humour; I certainly haven’t met a bad Australian.

When it comes to sport, Aussies are insanely jealous of us because we beat them repeatedly at most sports. Well, sometimes anyway. Well – rarely if I’m perfectly honest. Nothing is sweeter than kicking Australian arse at cricket or rugby. Recently Britain inflicted a fabulous Australian bum kicking in the last Olympics, causing outrage down under. We won a magnificent 19 gold medals, compared to a pathetic 14 by team Australia. Of course, the Australians claim victory because, of the 19 British medals, 6 were won by Scottish and Welsh athletes making the real result: Australia 14 England 13. This is quite clearly a desperate and pathetic argument – we kicked your arses my Aussie friends.

Sadly, in rugby and cricket, we have limited success against them, and apart from beating Australia in their own back yard to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003, we don’t have much to shout about.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to gloat about sport; it is to differentiate between the way English is spoken in Britain and Australia. And boy do Australians have some strange words

Here are a few examples:

Ankle biter - a small child
Arvo - afternoon
Barbie - barbecue
Bathers - swimming costume
Billy - teapot
Bingle - car accident
Blue - fight (“he was having a blue with his wife”)
Bonzer - great
Cactus - dead (“this bloody machine is cactus”)
Chook - chicken
Cobber - friend
Daks - trousers
Digger - soldier
Dinkum - true, great
Docket - bill
Drongo - stupid person
Dunny - outside toilet
Franger - condom
G’day - hello
Grog - booze
Hoon - hooligan
Jumbuck - sheep
Liquid laugh - vomit
Matilda - sleeping roll
Moolah - money
Mystery bag - sausage
Ocker - oaf
Pommy - Englishman
Porky - lie
Rip snorter - fantastic (“It was a rip snorter of a party”)
Roo - kangaroo
Ripper - great, fantastic
Rotten - drunk
Sanger - sandwich
Seppo - an American
Sheila - woman
Shonky - dubious
Skite - boast
Spewin - angry
Sticky beak - nosey person
Strides - trousers
Swaggie - tramp
Tinny - can of beer
Tucker - food
Whacka - idiot
Wowser - a prude

Another one of my favourite phrases is a pommy shower, yet another reference to Brits but good nonetheless. What does it mean? Well, imagine that you’ve been out boozing all night and then have to go to work the next day. Obviously you still stink of booze so you try to mask the smell by drowning yourself in deodorant; hence a pommy shower.

Some other good phrases:

All over the place like a mad woman’s breakfast – in a state of chaos.

Park a tiger on the rug – vomit

I could kick the arse off an emu – I am very healthy

He’s got a head like a robber’s dog – He’s ugly

I was very surprised to see that a lot of British and Australian slang is very similar; the words may vary slightly but in essence they are the same.

One final word that has me a bit stumped is Manchester which apparently means household linen; it brings a whole new meaning to the Plastic Mancunian. I’d love to know the origin of that one.

Finally, have you ever watched Australian rules football? I swear it is the most violent and crazy game I have ever seen. If anybody can explain the rules to me feel free. I recall watching it for the first time in the 80’s and to me it looked like a bunch of Australian thugs running around on an oval pitch and kicking seven colours of crap out of each other. In the game I saw, one guy was sent off for excessive violence and, when heckled from the crowd, launched himself at the guy before being dragged off to the dressing room. The commentators shrugged it off as a normal event saying “Boy – he must’ve been pissed off!”

Yet in England, when Eric Cantona, having been sent off in a game of football, leapt into the crowd and karate kicked a fan, there was universal outrage with the commentators, pundits and newspapers condemning him in the most vehement fashion. I’ll bet the Aussie guy’s antics went unnoticed and he had a tinny in the dunny before he went home.

I’m looking forward to my next trip to Australia, which unfortunately won’t be in the near future. It gives me plenty of time to practice Australian English thankfully, though a Pom impersonating an Aussie in his own back yard may precipitate a fight rather quickly.

By the way, Aussies, if you are reading this post, I hope you’re looking forward to having your arses kicked in the Ashes this summer. Of course, if the results go your way, I will make an excuse, just like you did when we battered you in the Olympics.


http://howtobecomeacatladywithoutthecats.blogspot.com said...

"All over the place like a mad woman’s breakfast."
Love that one... describes my life at the moment!
Thanks for the lesson in Aussie English.

Plastic Mancunian said...


"Park a tiger on the rug" is my favourite.




grey Fuzz said...

Made my day with the "All over the place like a mad woman’s breakfast."
had never heard that expression, but you can bet I'll find a way to work it into a conversation or two.

Grey Fuzz

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Grey Fuzz,

Neither have I. If I ever get to Oz again, I'll be sure to use it (if I can).




bingkee said...

Thanks for sharing this ....English is such an insane language....hehehe!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bingkee,

It certainly is - and fun too.




ashleigh said...

Hoi. I'm an Aussie, and you have a few of our ockerisms a bit wrong.

Bathers - depend on WHERE in Australia you are. Up the northern parts of the east coast, basically Sydney and north, its far more likely to be a COSSIE. (as in bathing costume). But could also be TOGS (thats very Sydney).

Bingle - or Dingle. or Prang.

Cactus - or if its especially bad, Cactus Fucktus

you don't have Bogan listed - do a google search - a Bogan is basically a bit of a thick redneck/low life usually from the cheap-living outer suburbs.

NOBODY uses jumbuck. But it might be an idea to know the difference between lamb, hogett, and two-tooth (regional differences here as well)

PORKIE comes from pommy rhyming slang (porkie pies = lies)

SHONKY and DODGY are interchangable

And phrases.... actually its "all over the place like a mad womans poo", or "all over the place like a dogs breakfast". Choose appropriate company for which of those you might use.

You might also want to consider "a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock", and "a few stubies short of a six pack" as suitable descriptions for one who is somewhat slow-witted.

Manchester... I think that came about because of a prevalence of imported linen from the Manchester mills back in the early days of the colony.

Aussie Rules football at least does not involve the bum-sniffing scrum. There is method in the madness and the players have to be extremely fit. They also need a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock :)

And yes, I think you kicked our arses. The lack of Shane Warne, perhaps - which just goes to show that Bogans can reach high places. Sadly.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Ashleigh,

Thanks so much for correcting my mistakes. I can only blame the internet - I should have asked an Aussie.


But I love the phrases you guys come up with - and having been to Oz (the year we last kicked your arses at cricket) I can appreciate how great you all are (particularly since you share our sense of humour). Sadly it will be a while before I venture down under again but in the meantime I can gloat about the cricket (at least until you batter us in two years time).




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