Language Barrier

Today I am going to share many of the new words and phrases I have learned over the past several months.  I keep a running tally!  Hard to believe, but I am still learning new terminology weekly!  These are in no particular order.

-To start, I have to comment on the odd way the seasons are handled here.  Yesterday, June 1st, was the first day of winter, and December 1st is the first day of summer.  It seems the science of equinoxes and solstices and the sun and moon having anything to do with the beginning and end of seasons just did not come down to the southern hemisphere—so weird!  Some guy arbitrarily gives those dates as the beginning of seasons and there you go!  Spring and fall aren’t mentioned too much around here, except in store sale brochures.

-“Up the duff” means someone is pregnant.  Why?  Only the Aussies know.

-Hot flashes are called hot flushes down here.  Again—why?  Maybe because your face gets flushed when you have one….

-Umbrella has been shortened to ‘brolly’.  Well, of course it has!

-When you ask someone for something, we would say, “Yes, just a minute, please” or “just a moment.”  Here, they say, “Won’t be a moment”, which is exactly the opposite of what they mean!  That reminds me of a funny story from when Steve and I visited Ireland.  After Steve had ordered his drink, the bartender commented on how funny Australians are when they order, by saying “I’ll have a pint, thanks.”   He said, “They don’t say I’ll have a pint, please.  They just expect that you’re going to give it to them, so they thank you in advance.”  Hilarious and so true! 

-When I ask someone how they are, or how their weekend was, they ALWAYS say, “Yeah, good.”  I swear that’s new from my previous trips here and it cracks me up.  I didn’t ask a yes or no question, why precede your answer with Yeah?  Another mystery….

-Someone was telling me a story recently about some bad luck their neighbor had.  She said, “Then his wife shot through.”  That meant, of course, that his wife left him. 

-They call bangs on hair “fringe”, which usually leaves me picturing pants and chaps on cowboys and Indians. 

-Christmas ornaments, if they are in different shapes are called ornaments, but if they are round balls, they are called baubles.  Steve and I had a good laugh over that one.  He said, “We use one word to mean at least three different things but on Christmas ornaments we get specific!”  Lol.

-When people shorten ‘because’, particularly in texts or Facebook posts and the like, it’s “cos”, which is made doubly odd “cos” that is also what Romaine lettuce is known as.

-If you “had a stack”, it means you had an accident (e.g. fell off your bike, perhaps). 

-I am not 100% sure on this, but I think what we know as blackberries are mulberries here, and sadly, are quite rare.

-McDonald’s, the fast food place, has been shorted to Maccas.  Maccas knows this and uses this word themselves on their signs and advertising.  NO ONE calls it McDonald’s, always Maccas!

-If the weather is going to be sunny and mild, it is referred to as “fine”, even on the news.  They say or print that the weather prediction for the day is “fine” and if it has recently rained, they say it will be “fining up” or it has “fined up.”  I didn’t even know fining was a word and fined I thought was only used in the case of laws that have been broken.  What do I know?!

-There are several fantastic terms used to refer to tantrums here, for kids and adults.  “Cacked it” is one that sounds awesome, but I have no idea what it is.  “Spat the dummy” is my personal favorite (dummy meaning pacifier, of course), “tanty” is another good one, as is “chucked a nonny”, which I’m not even sure how to spell. 

-The forest is known as the bush and hiking is known as bushwalking and if you are going into the forest, you are “going bush” or “out the bush” (see, we try to eliminate any words here that we deem extraneous, and of course, in this case “into” is just not necessary!).  However, why is the rainforest not known as the rainbush?  Help me out here, people!

-An outhouse or porta-potty is known as a dunny, or thunderbox, we think in reference to noises made while sitting in one.

-Dam is not just the physical dam holding the water in place; it is the name for the entire reservoir or any man-made lake.  Well, that’s much easier to say, duh!

-Very confusing to me is that “the tip” is the term for the dump, but it is also the word for “bet”, in reference to gambling.  So, instead of placing bets, or making picks on who will win, they “do their footy tips”, but I guess they do that before they go to the tip.  Huh?

-A carnival or local fair is called a show, which leaves me often confused because show is used for many other reasons as well.

-“Advised” is often used, in my workplace anyway, where I would previously have used “said”, or even informed.  See, now they get fancy on me!  (Example:  He advised that the works will be completed in one week.”)  It’s used ALL the time in that way, not for providing actual advice.  And, I just gave you another one as well, because work is not plural here unless it has an ‘s’ on the end. 

-A doctor’s office is called a surgery, which has made me freaked out and confused on several occasions, and, as you should already know, the actual surgical operating room is called the theatre.  So, get nervous when you just have to go see the doctor, but if you are getting operated on, it will be a lovely theatrical experience!  Wth?!

-Here’s a freaky one:  “Blooded” is a term for a rookie playing in his first game, or someone having a common experience for the first time.  When I first learned it, I was told that it likely has its roots from hunting, when someone made a first kill.  Yikes!

-Instead of saying, “I go shopping usually on Saturday afternoons”, they would instead say, “I go shopping of a Saturday afternoon”, or better yet, shorten afternoon down to “arvo”.  But that whole “of a” thing took me a while to catch on to.  Similarly, if something starts or opens, for example, at 6:00 a.m., they say they are open “from 6:00 a.m.”, which does make sense; it was just odd when I started hearing it.  I got really confused with the flier for the Preschool information night that I saw recently.  It said “Time:  7:00 for 7:30”.  I told Steve, “I’m guessing that’s a typo and it goes from 7:00 to 7:30?”  Nope.  It means, “Arrive at 7:00, but the presentation does not start until 7:30.”  Huh?  Why don’t you just say that then?

-It’s like when I asked him “A new friend was telling me that she has been drinking every night of the holidays. Does that mean she drank a lot between Christmas and New Year’s?  Or that she has been drinking every night of the vacation she is currently on for 10 days?  Or does it mean she has been drinking every night for the entire 5 weeks that school has been on summer break?”  He said, “It’s anybody’s guess.  You can’t really know unless you ask more questions.”  I have come to the conclusion that the Aussies like for the rest of us to be confused, to have us continually in a state of wonder as to what it is they are actually saying, what they mean.  I think that they all think it’s hilarious to see us perplexed! 

-I have to say though that thankfully, because the U.S. is so darn big and there are so many of us, and our media is so widespread, it has helped me in many cases that people here most often know our spelling differences and pronunciations.  On the flip side, Americans have NEVER heard things like “zed.”  For years I thought my sweet husband was actually stupid (don’t tell him this!) in regards to spelling and grammar and wondered how he ever became a teacher.  Then I learned that it’s actually a cultural thing!  Thankfully, people here don’t just think I’m stupid, they know I’m just American.  Wink, wink. 

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