Australianisms – teaching the Poms to speak ‘Strayan
Since moving from Australia to London, I have been amazed at just how big the language barrier between myself and the British is. London-English (or Londglish as I have started calling it) is a whole new language to me.
By Phoebe Lee
SINCE moving from Australia to London, I have been amazed at just how big the language barrier between myself and the British is. London-English (or Londglish as I have started calling it) is a whole new language to me.
I honestly never thought it would be an issue, in fact I have a very clear memory of my mum saying “Well, at least you’ll speak the language” when I told her I was moving to London. You were wrong mum, you were wrong.
There have been a number of incidents where I have had to use my ‘polite laugh’ to get me out of awkward social situations involving terms like Womble, Jedward, TOWIE or Vajazzle (I Google-imaged that last one and got a nasty surprise).
Then there are times when I say something as I normally would only to be met with horrified looks and later learn that those words mean something entirely different here i.e. “I think I’ll just wear pants and a top” (‘pants’ in Londglish means underwear) or “I’m just wearing my thongs to work tomorrow” (‘thongs’ in Londglish means g-string). That last one also raises the awkward question of why I would wear two at one time.
Slowly I am being taught how to speak Londglish, and in the process I am teaching my British colleagues how to speak Australian or ‘strayan’, as it should really be pronounced.
Here are the first few words I’ve imparted on Britain:
Cactus: Unless specifically referenced (i.e. “Look at that cactus”) Australians do not use the word ‘cactus’ to refer to a plant. It means dead or not functioning – “Sarah, the washing machine’s cactus!” Another word used to describe the death of something is ‘cark’ (from Carcass) – “Sarah, the washing machine’s carked it”.
Cockroach: A derogatory term used to describe a person who lives in or supports New South Wales (i.e. Sydney).
Cane Toad: A loving, affectionate and glorious term assigned to a person who lives in or supports Queensland (i.e Brisbane). The term ‘Banana Bender’ is also used in reference to Queenslanders.
Bonza: Meaning ‘good’ or ‘great’ – “Oh Shaz, that was a bonza steak!”
Yobbo: An uncouth person, similar to a chav – “Oh god, who invited the yobbo!?”
Roadie: A beer or other alcoholic beverage you take with you to consume en route – “We’re leaving for the concert now, should we grab a roadie?”
Servo: It is a well-known fact that Australian’s love to shorten words then put vowels on the end for no apparent reason. So it should come as no surprise that ‘servo’ means Service Station or Gas Station.
Bottle-o: Bottle-shop, Liquor store or Off-Licence. “Keith, I’m going to the bottle-o, you want anything mate? Maybe a roadie?”
Hooroo: meaning ‘Goodbye’, made famous by Ray Meagher as Alf on Home and Away and most of the cast of A Country Practice, Cookie included. “Hooroo George, see you tomorrow”.
Rat’s coffin: The sometimes affectionate but mostly sceptical name given to a Sausage Roll.
Manchester: in reference to linen i.e. sheets and towels. While declaring that you love Manchester in Australia is slightly weird, doing so in London is extremely weird and may result in a bashing, so keep your towel fetish under wraps.
Turps: alcohol, to ‘get on the turps’, to drink or get drunk. This term does not reference drinking actual Turpentine.
Sticky beak: to have a look around. Could also be used in reference to someone who is nosey “Did you see the new Westfield opened up down the road? Want to go have a sticky beak later?”
Chook: meaning chicken, a low-flying bird to be eaten or used for egg production. “Do you want to have roast chook for dinner, Bazza?”
Most of our Australianisms are nonsensical and involve a lot of vowels, but to us they’re more than just words, they’re our identity.
What are some of your favourite Australianisms? Tell us below: