By Rémi Samson
To outsiders, there’s something sexy about Aussie slang – those colourful, often impenetrable expressions that pepper casual speech. In several mid-1980s ads, Paul Hogan of Crocodile Dundee fame relied on this feature to promote Australia, promising potential tourists that locals would “flash those pearly whites and say g’day” while “slipping an extra shrimp on the barbie.”
Beyond these clichés, Australian slang is just plain fun. As a bonus, learning it helps avoid misunderstandings. At the beach, for example, you’ll want to put those thongs on your feet and you won’t want to confuse speedos (or budgie smugglers) with a speedo (speedometer). It also helps to know that a dunny is a toilet and that bum nuts are what chooks (chickens) produce.
Colourful expressions abound. You can be going flat out like a lizard drinking (being busy) while having a sticky beak (checking something out). If you’re feeling smug, then you’re a happy little Vegemite, aren’t ya? And if an Australian calls you fair dinkum, that’s high praise.
Australians add the diminutive “-y or -ee” sound everywhere. Tradies include brickies (bricklayers), sparkies (electricians) and fireys (firemen). Want a day off from work? Chuck a sickie! Going the wrong way? Chuck a uey! Stay away from crocs, both salties and freshies. And like Canada, Australia’s buzzing with mossies (pronounced moz-zies), from Brissie (Brisbane) to Tassie (Tasmania).
Then there’s this gem: This arvo, I packed the ankle biters into the ute to go buy some ice blocks, but once I got to the servo, I realized I’d forgotten the esky. Crikey!
In case it’s not crystal clear, arvo is afternoon, an ankle biter is a small child, a ute is a utility vehicle, and you can put an ice block (popsicle) in an esky (cooler) to keep cool (next to the Chateau de Cardboard). A servo, of course, is a gas station.
Have a cracker of a day!
Rémi Samson is passionate about the ways language, law and power intersect. He worked as a lawyer with the Supreme Court of Canada for over two decades and is biding his time to return to Australia.