“G’day mate, Johnno here. Listen, I’m in iso because of the rona and I need some sanny. Me missus went to the supermarket, but somebody’s magpied the whole bloody lot. Have you got any?”
Just a normal phone chat between two Aussie mates in the age of the coronavirus. And the reason why foreigners struggle to comprehend whether it really is English that we’re speaking.
The colourful slang that peppers Australian chatter is an ever-evolving thing and anyone who’s been out of the country for a few years could conceivably come back and think his countrymen had gone linguistically bonkers.
We’ve got a shiny new slang vocabulary
Given that right now people are talking about the coronavirus and little else, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a shiny new slang vocabulary has quickly developed around it.
And in case you’re wondering what Johnno was on about in the opening paragraph, he was telling his mate that he’s in social isolation (‘iso’) because of the coronavirus (‘the rona’) and in need of some hand-sanitiser (‘sanny’). His wife had gone to look for some at the supermarket, but a hoarder (‘magpie’) had bought the entire stock.
A few other words that the uninitiated may like to get their heads around include: ‘pando’ (‘pandemic’), ‘quazzie’ (‘quarantine’) and ‘doom scrolling’ (surfing social media for the latest doom and gloom information)
It’s a language that’s uniquely ours
No, it isn’t quite the Queens English. And the words may take a few years to make it into the Oxford English Dictionary. But they are uniquely ours; and Aussies seem to take pride in that and embrace our slang with enthusiasm.
In an interview with the ABC, Celeste Lawson of Central Queensland University said the use of slang was creating a sense of community among Australians during the pandemic.
“It gives us a shared understanding and brings us closer together,” she said. “It is how we show we are a part of a group.
“We’ve developed this slang and it does provide this sense of comfort that we can just talk about ‘being in iso’ and we know what that means.”
Lawson said it was normal for new words to emerge in a language. However, the increased use of social media during the pandemic had sped up the process. Slang words are also ideal for social media because they’re shorter.
So mate: watch out for the rona and use lots of sanny. Otherwise you’ll feel crook and end up in quazzie.