Straya VS Merica

The language barrier – shit Aussies say that no New Yorker understands

By Marley Tinnock

As a proud Australian born and bred, I have been brought up to believe that we do shit right. We just do.

Much like our forefathers, and technically those of the USA too, we fully adopt and embrace our British roots. We spell realise with an s, not a z, we like our mums with a ‘u’ and we certainly believe in the colour grey – with an e.

To break it down a little more, here are a few things that Aussies do, that make us that little bit less easy to decipher in conversation.

Pronunciation

Some ‘mericans might argue that we are lazy, and can’t be bothered with the extra syllables, but I, my name being one at stake of grave mispronunciation, believe that Americans really love their A’s and their R’s and so they give them a little extra love with every word. For example:

CAR

Australians say – K-ah

Americans say – K-argh

MELBOURNE

Australians say – Mel-bun

Americans say – Mel-Boorn

Double Meanings

This is where it can get awkward – one word – several meanings.

Rubber – not a slinky latex baby barricade, but a useful stationary item used to erase lead pencil from the paper.

Thongs – far from being gracefully uncomfortable undergarments, a pair of thongs should be worn on your feet as you walk down the beach – and might I add, a much catchier name than ‘flip-flops’.

Saucy – in the land of Oz, saucy is strictly executed in the bedroom. In the US of A, saucy is something done publicly and often with friends. When something to mean being heavily intoxicated in NYC actually means getting hot and heavy in Sydney – location can be everything.

The many meaning of mate:

  1. In reference to a friend or acquaintance i.e. ‘yeah I saw my mate Bill yesterday’.
  2. Ol’mate – usually someone you cannot remember the name of i.e. ‘Ol’mate from up the road’.
  3. Maaaate – a (usually rhetorical) question, meaning ‘are you being serious?’ or ‘I don’t actually believe a word your saying, but go on.’
  4. To physically make love – usually purposefully.
  5. A lover – not used often, and generally as a scientific or animalistic reference.

Spelling

Perhaps we add letters for effect, but if the Brits say so, so says we – extra u’s and s’s for all.

  • Color vs. colour
  • Favorite vs. favourite
  • Realize vs. realise

Turns of Phrase

Some words, some sayings, some linguistic differences – some shit Aussies say, just don’t make sense to the average New Yorker.

Powerpoint – no not the Microsoft kind, the kind you find in a wall. A POINT of POWER. A.k.a an ‘outlet’.

Knock-on effect – when a certain action or situation occurs in a way that eventuates into something else – usually inevitable – much like when you tap the first domino and all the others begin to fall as a result.

Fortnight – not a particularly funny one, but god-damn-it the number of times I’ve been asked to explain what is a fortnight – it’s a period of two weeks.

Bogan – the only close equivalent I can draw is that of a hick. A bogan is a lowly member of society, usually uneducated and uninformed, poorly dressed and with bad hygiene. Hence, it is also an effective insult.

Arvo, servo, bottlo, derro – you will find that most words CAN be shorted and WILL have an ‘o’ attached at the end (for effect). E.g. arvo – short for afternoon, servo – short for service station or gas station as you might call it, bottlo – short for bottle shop and derro – short for derelict

And so it goes, ‘merica, the only country that refuses to use metric – when water freezes at 32 degrees and the five cent coin is bigger than the 10. Who would have thought two sister countries could be so different?

image credit: thefalconandthesnowman.com

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