Lost in translation

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I decided to create this page after moving from Brisbane (in Australia) to San Diego (in the United States of America) in 2010 and immediately noticed that a lot of the words and phrases I used received awkward blank stares. The first girl I dated in America didn't understand me half of the time, and I decided it was time to do something about it.

NOTE: All the words listed below are strictly words/phrases that the average American will not know or be able to guess. Phrases like the common "g'day" and "no worries" I haven't listed, because even the slowest yank, who's never heard it before can probably guess the meaning. Also, if I included all the common Australia phrases..... well this page would be too long to read in one sitting! :)

WORDS TO ADD SOON: tiff, piss (drink), no wuckers, brolley, spruiker, Cozzie + / Swimmers / Bathers, Pike *, Texta, Ankle biters, Ambo, Boomer, Buck's night / Hen's party, Ding bat, Donkey's years, Drongo, Jumbuck, Tucker, Vegemite, Whinge, Yobbo, Fortnight, Fair Dinkum, Stobie pole

Lost in Translation: Australia to US

Here I'm maintaining a list of all the most common words and phrases which I (personally) used in Australia, but mean nothing to the average American! I also discovered that you can turn this into a pretty entertaining game when I met two American doctors and we decided to turn this list into a quiz. To do this little "who knows Australian slang best quiz" read out the Australian word and the first person to blurt out the correct translation gets the points..... notice I've put "points" on the left column. These points are roughly proportional to their difficulty (how unlikely an American is to know the word) and in many cases are worth nil points, but represent fun factoids anyway. I'm hoping to one day turn this into a little single player or multiple player iPhone game. If you want to challenge yourself cover the answer (the two right hand columns) and tally your score.

  • current number of words listed: 91 and growing

Pts Australian US Translation Comment


1 Thong Flip-flop In the US thong means G-string so you'll always raise an eyebrow or get a laugh when you tell people you forgot your thongs
1 Bubbler Drinking fountain Some of my friends in the US find the word "bubbler" hilarious. :-)
Still other friends pointed out that a "bubbler" can also mean a device for smoking pot - helping explain why American's look "extra confused" when I ask "is there a bubbler around here?".
1 Dunny / Loo Restroom And you'll also noticed the design of toilets is quite different in both countries - toilets in US often say "American standard" on them and the bowls usually fill with much more water. Still not sure which I prefer!
- Jumper Sweatshirt Yanks tend to use the word "hoodie" (if it comes over your head) a lot more frequently than Australians. In the states a "jumper" often refers to "onesies" - a one piece "infant body suit", so if you say you're going to put on a jumper an American probably thinks you're making a joke. They do make adult onesies/jump suits, but I think it's usually a kinky thing. :-P
1 Stubbies Short shorts Stubbies was originally a brand of short shorts, which became very popular (especially in hotter regions) and entered into popular Australian slang. Stubbies are very short and made of tough material for informal wear: they are not to be confused with cut-offs or jean shorts: they are actually very similar to the shorts the Crocodile Hunter used to wear, but a little shorter, and typically grey. Stubbies are less popular than they used to be, but were worn predominantly by men... in fact the stereotypical Australian husband say said to wear a tank top (aka "wife beater"), stubbies and thongs.
- Kit Uniform / Clothes To "take of your kit" in Australia means to get naked. Kit can refer to uniform / clothes, although yes, it has many other meanings too. If you have a nice computer / electronics setup you might say "I'll show you my kit".... although oddly you probably wouldn't say that for a crappy setup.
- Sunnies Sunglasses I think some American's already know or can figure this one out... sunnies is just sort for sun glasses or shades if you want to sound fancy. :-P
1 Trolley Shopping cart In the US trolley usually refers only to trams/(small trains)
1 Ute Truck Pretty much any car a tray back in Australia is called a ute (short for "utility vehicle")), in America these utes are almost always huge and called trucks
1 Lift Elevator This one isn't too major - 'lift' is most commonly used in England, in Australian's we use both words and while Americans will use 'elevator' most will know what 'lift' is too
- Wheelie bin Trash can on wheels My US friends find "wheelie bin" pretty funny.... it is what it sounds like, and there's a bad Australian joke where a dump truck driver yells out to a guy in his house: "hey Bob, haven't seen you for a while", "oh hey Bruce, I've been on holidays", "Where's your wheelie been"... "I've really been in jail".
2 Doona Comforter or Duvet In Australia, a Doona is different from a blanket or quilt - it has a removeable, washable cover. They call it a "comforter" in the US, or some know the more fancy term "duvet".
1 Boot Trunk The "car boot" means "car trunk" in Australia.
- Indicator Flasher / Blinkers Bad drivers in Australia don't "indicate" (i.e. use their "indicator lights")... in the US some call the same thing flashers, which I find amusing, while others still just use blinkers (which we admittedly use in Australia too).
- Witches hats Safety cones This one is pretty cute - I put all the car ones together so hopefully people will guess it. Safety cones do really look like witches hats - albeit a very colorful witch.
- Torch Flashlight In the states a "torch" is what you see in Indiana Jones (or a garden torch) and not a flashlight.
2 Lorry / Road train Truck In Australia we use the word lorry to describe a large truck and road train for a large truck pulling a long row of trailers (often up to four on long outback roads). Apparently the U.S. and Canada commonly refer to these long combination vehicles as "triples," "Turnpike doubles" and "Rocky Mountain doubles".
- Bitumen Asphalt Sounds rude, but it's just our word for asphalt. Sometimes we call it "tar".... a bit like the concrete you get on a tarmac.
- Willy willy Dust devil No it's not rude - it's just a small spiral of wind from the ground. Imagine a very small tornado.... but also keep in mind we don't really get any tornadoes in Australia. We do get "cyclones" though (the name for a hurricane in the southern hemisphere).

1 Dear / Upmarket Expensive / High-market All ways of saying expensive
1 Pram Stroller "Pram" (as in baby stroller) is yet another British word not used in the US
- Queue Line Some American's understand "queue", but unfortunately not all of them. If you tell an American you're going to "stand in queue" you may or may-not get a blank stare. NOTE: I've made several words "-" points like this in cases where I think most American's *should* know what the word means and thus don't deserve a point.... and/or in cases where it's not so much a direct translation rather than a little difference between the countries I find interesting!
- Rubbish Trash / Garbage In Australia we describe litter as "rubbish" more often than "trash"... but in America you have to be a bit careful with the word "rubbish", as it's used primarily in the context of "you talk rubbish". Get used to saying "garbage van" and "trash can" instead of "rubbish truck" and "rubbish bin".
- Lookout Overlook / vista This is worth zero points, because I believe most Americans use the word lookout.. however I did find it interesting that in certain places like Arizona, these were labelled as "overlooks" or "vistas" (spanish for "see"). Another interesting road sign was "rough break" to instead of "rough surface" to describe a bumpy road.
- Docket Receipt Australian's use the words "shopping docket" and "shopping receipt" interchangeably, but in the US only "receipt" is used and "docket" may as well be a foreign language
- Petrol Gas I like petrol better because to me gas is what barbecue's (or "barbies") and non-electric stoves use..... "gas" shouldn't describe a liquid!
- Partner Significant other In Australia we often describe a significant other (i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse) as "partner", but in America "partner" usually implies a gay lover!.... although it can also be used in "business partner" or "howdy partner" (if you're a cowboy). :-)
1 Student Formal Prom Prom is a very American word, but in Australia the big gathering of high school students in their final year is usually called "the formal". I remember my formal pretty well... I was the only person who didn't bring a date. *tear* ... I was also one of the only guys there who know how to dance though, so that made up for it a little. :)
1 Dux Valedictorian In schools in Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Iceland, "dux" (pronounced "ducks") is a title given to the top student (the one with the best grades) in their school ("school dux"), year-level ("year-level dux") or subject ("subject dux"). The word "duck" also appears in cricket where getting "out for a duck" means a batter gets out (caught, bowled or run-out) without scoring a single run or "out for a golden duck" if he gets out on the first ball.
2 Twitcher Birdwatcher This is worth 2 points because most Australian's don't actually know this word (an even fewer Americans)! Strictly speaking twitcher isn't a synonym for birdwatcher, it's reserved for reserved for those who travel long distances to see a rare bird that would then be ticked, or checked off, on a list. "Twitching" is most popular in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Sweden.
1 Lollipop lady Crossing guard Lollipop lady is used commonly in the UK and Australia, since the sign school crossing guards are usually female, and the sign they hold resembles a lollipop.
- Cheerio Bye "Cheerio" lad is just an Australian variation of saying good-bye. Incidentally "cheerios" is a word Queenslanders use to describe small boiled party sausages..... not to be confused with the american brand of cereal. In other Australian states they are apparently called 'cocktail franks' or 'little boys'. :)'
- Kip Nap If you're tired why not have a little "kip" in the afternoon. Sounds like a good idea right now actually.
- Skip True Auzzie or Dumpster Apparently some of us say "skip" to represent a true blue "anglo-saxon" Australian... but for me a "skip" is the huge metal waste container you can hire to put trash for a garbage truck to take away.
- Bench Counter In the US "bench" is usually for "workbench", but in Australia we often use it to refer to a "kitchen bench" (counter top). Sometimes bench means a "garden bench" or "park bench" (for sitting on), but I think that's said in the US too.
- Spanner Wrench Some American's will have heard of a "spanner" before, but it's really a UK word for Wrench and in Australia we tend to say spanner more. When I hear wrench I usually think "adjustable" wrench. In Australia to "throw a spanner in the works" is a popular expression to describe something going wrong - often caused by someone deliberately - "Mike threw a spanner in the works". A less common expression, but one of my favorite is "spanner water". We say this in Queensland sometimes when you're going swimming and warning someone that the water is cold. Why spanner water?.. because cold water can tightens your nuts. ;-)
- Whirlybird Vent / stove pipe The term whirlybird isn't that common anymore, but can refer to the vents on top of a building to vent out hot air.".
- Spotlighting Lamping / spotting animals with lamps This one is pretty unusual, but as you'll see on wikipedia's spotlighting page, this is the hobby of going out at night with a good torch (flashlight) and looking around the tree to spot native animals like quolls, possums, bandicoots and so on. I did a lot of this as a kid, and the best technique is a high powered headlamp or else hold a dolphin torch close to your face so you can see the red eye shine of animals. Most are arboreal (tree dwelling), so it's worth scanning the trees (not just the ground) as you walk quietly through the forest. :)
1 Brumby Wild horse It's not likely to come up in everyday conversation, but as stated on Wikipedia a brumby "is a free-roaming feral horse in Australia".
1 Wagging Ditch / Cut class In America they know this only as "ditching" or "cutting" class, but if you skip a class in an Australian school you'd most likely say you were "wagging". A person who "wags" a lot is a "wagger". Some American's say "playing hokey" (pronounced: "who-key") I hear... but to take the cake I have an Indian friend who says they call it "bunking" in India - even better! :)
- Ta / Cheers Thanks Ta, which sounds like "tar", is a way Australian's often say thanks. Australian's say cheers in the same context... in fact I often end e-mails with "Cheers, Andrew".
- Fag Cigarette / Gay In Brittan and Australia people often use the word "fag" for cigarette (eg: "I need a fag"), and sometimes use it as a playful word for gay/homosexual - as is the word "p00fter". In America you should NEVER use the word fag - it doesn't mean cigarette - it's used only as an offensive word for gay - the equivalent of using the 'N' word for Negro! Saying "fag" or "ni**er" will get you hated, slapped or worse.

Common Abbreviation / Slang

1 Arvo Afternoon A very common abbreviation/slang in Australia
1 Bugger Dang OR Silly person In most countries "bugger" means anal sex, and hence is considered very rude. In Australia however, the word "bugger" is a bit more innocent and its usage is surprisingly common and surprisingly versatile. If you've just stubbed your toe or miss a bus you yell "bugger!", because it's considered a much less crude expletive than "shit". If someone has done something clumsy: "you silly bugger". If you want someone to go away: "bugger off" (as a slightly less crude alternative to f**k off). If you something sounds undesirable: "I couldn't be buggered!". If you are exhausted: "I'm buggered". In fact the word bugger is very similar in its usage to the word "fuck", except for the fact Australians don't use it to describe sex (or anal sex).
- Bogan Hillbilly Just like the word "hillbilly" calling someone a "bogan" can be a bit of an insult, but others take pride. The stereotypical bogan wears a pair of thongs, stubbies, a wife beater (singlet) and a thick slurred aussie accent. Commonly your male bogan has a tinny in his hand and big beer belly, while the female bogan swears like a builder and you might expect to see smoking like a chimney. By hey - it could just as easily be a youngster wearing surf shorts and bumming around all day. Sometimes they occur in the suburbs, but the more rural / backwater / outback town you are, the more you're likely to find.
- Occa Good Auzzie Bloke The word Occa is very similar to "bogan" in a way, but used most often to describe young tough guys.
1 Blokes and Sheila's Men and Women In Australia "bloke" is used pretty commonly to refer to a grown man. Although a be less common, "shelia" refers to a grown woman - as in "you're a good looking Sheila". In a "fair dinkum" outback pub it's not unusual to see the toilets labels blokes and shelas instead of mens and women.
2 Tradie Tradesman / Laborer It's common to refer to anyone in the trade industry - builders, plumbers, electrician (aka "sparkies"), tilers, carpenters (aka "chippies"), forklift drivers (aka "forkies") and gardeners - as "tradies" - a fun abbreviation for a tradesman. Over in America the word laborer is more common.
3 Ranga / Bluey Redhead Australians actually have a few different little slang words for a redhead / carrot top. "Ranga" is quite popular, but usually used to describe guys with red hair, not so much girls. Yes, "bluely" is a strange word to describe someone with red hair - but that's just the Australian sense of humor!

Insults / Rude

1 Hoon / revhead Hooligan These are derogatory terms for a young person who drives his car recklessly and/or has a VERY loud sound system. We actually have "anti-hoon" laws in Australia!
- Rooting Having sex Yes if someone asks you for a root in Australia they are being very naughty! We also often use the expression root rat to describe a promiscuous young people, but rarely as an insult... "those teenagers are just a bunch of root rats".
1 Fanny Bottom In the US "fanny" means bottom, but in Australia "fanny" refers to your FRONT bottom (i.e. a woman's genitalia) - so don't be *too* offended if a yank compliments your fanny or talks about his fanny pack!
1 Tosser / wanker Tool / dick The word "tosser" means nothing to Americans - and "wanker" is sometimes recognized (but not used) by American's as a British swearword - the direct translation ("masterbater") isn't used as an insult - but American's to say "tool".
- Mole or Slag Easy To call someone a "mole" or a "slag" suggests that they are a sl-u-t.... however, while the s word is very offensive, most people almost say mole or slag affectionately. "Geesh Nikki, you are such a mole". Basically there are nastier words out there if you are trying to actually offend someone, but still use with caution - and not with strangers!
- Up the duff Pregnant It's very common and I quite like "up the duff".... although I'm sure Hilary Duff doesn't. In a sentence: "How's Susie - I heard she's up the duff again"... to which her friend might replies with another word for knocked up: "Yeah I saw her this arvo, she's definitely preggers, hey!".
For the history, read this incredibly funny, involved article: Up the duff.... and to pull one's pudding


1 My shout Drinks are on me I was quite surprised about this one - I thought every English speaker knew what "my shout" meant. American's will sometimes say "I'll spot you", but that usually implies the other person will pay you back.
1 Furphy White lie If someone tells a "furphy", often spelt "furfie", they are telling a white lie / tall story. Look it up on wikipedia here and the word has a colorful background. Often a furphy is an exaggeration, and a similar expression *some* use in the US is "gilding the lily" - although this is more an Irish expression.
2 Had a blue Had a fight OR made a mistake This is a bit tricky: "I had a blue with the wife" means you've had a quarrel, but this is not to be confused with "I made a blue" which means you've made a mistake (not that it's used very often), or "feeling blue", which means feeling sad.
- Had a row Had a fight Not too many people say "row" (pounced "rrr - our" and not "row"), but still useful to know in case it comes up. Rows are something to avoid!
- Bazza Barry (a person's name) Okay, so this is actually a huge list... in Australia it's incredibly common to give someone a nickname ending in "azza" or the occasional "ezza". It doesn't work for all names, but if your name happens to start with the right letter(s) here's the most common examples: Bazza=Barry/Bruce/Bill/etc, Dazza=Darren/Dale/etc, Gazza=Gary/Grant, Jezza=Jess, Shazza=Sharon, Wazza=William. Some other auzzie name abbreviations you might here: Micko=Mick and Ry=Ryan.
- Every man and his dog Everybody and their mum It's a strange one - I'll have to keep a lookout for more!
- Taking the piss Making fun of In Australia if you're "taking the piss" out of someone it means you're making fun of them. The word "piss" is quite versatile in Australia, and if you are "pissed" it either means you are angry or drunk, depending on the context... and sometimes both. As you'll see in the next entry, it can also just mean "piss".
- Busting for a piss Desperate for a leak In Australia if you're "busting" to do something (eg: busting for a drink, busting to go out), then it means you want to do that really urgently. If someone's busting for a piss you should direct them to the nearest dunny (toilet).
- Take away To go In OZ, people will always ask "eat here or take away"... in America you have to get use to saying "and I'll have that to go" - if you say "take away" they won't necessarily figure it out.
1 Suss Suspect OR investigate In Australia if you say "that's suss" it means "that's suspect" and you can also say "let's suss it out" to mean "let's investigate / look around".

Food / Drink

- Main Meal Entrée (*) In Australia 'entrée' means 'appetizer' (i.e. small amount of food). In the US 'entrée' refers to the main course. Fortunately 'appetizer' means the same. It's all very confusing. (see Wikipedia - Entree)
- Grub Food A kind of breakfast cereal consisting typically of rolled oats, brown sugar or honey, dried fruit, and nuts.
- Muesli Granola This gets no points because it's a pretty well known turn in America: which lots of cowboys use.
1 Tuck shop Cafeteria A tuck shop is a term used used in the UK, Canada, Grenada, South Africa, New Zealand, the Australian. It means small, food-selling retailer, and in Australia it's most commonly used to refer to school cafeterias. Instead of "lunch lady" we're more likely to say "tuck shop lady" - who are mostly older ladies. Another little difference between the US and Australia: we often say "kitchen bench" instead of "kitchen counter".
- Lolly Candy Everyone understands 'lollipop', but in Australia lolly can refer to pretty much any variety of candy which you can suck on.
1 Muesli bar Granola bar Apparently it's ONLY in Australia where we call these cereal-like bars "muesli bars" - in England they say "flapjack" or "oat bar" and in America they typically call them "granola bars" (see Wikipedia - Flapjack).
1 Potato gems Tater tots Just like in Napoleon Dynamite - American's all say "tots" - which isn't any less strange than the way Australians' call them "gems".
1 Capsicum Bell pepper I've had arguments over which word is more correct, and there is no right answer (capsicum)!
- Alfoil / Aluminium Foil Aluminum foil Al-foil is a brand of Australian aluminum foil (used to wrap food). In Australia we don't call it aluminum foil, we either call it "aluminium foil" or (more commonly) "al-foil" for short because we're very lazy with our words.
2 Esky Cooler An Esky is a colloquial Australian word for a "cooler"/"cool box"/"portable ice chest"/"chilly bin" (in New Zealand). The word Esky comes from an Australian brand of coolers called Esky, which was named this a reference to the association of Eskimos with cold climates.
- Soft-drink Soda / pop Australians usually think of "soda" as specific type of drink, but in the US "soda" means ANY soft-drink.
- Spider Float Required clue: it's a drink. I really have no idea why we would call a scoop of ice-cream in soft-drink a "spider" - the American term "float" makes a lot more sense. Root beer floats are very popular in the US and worth trying! Also a good chance here to mention that yes, actual spiders (the animal) in Australia get pretty big. Our largest spider is the "huntsman spider" and there are records of leg span up to 30 centimeters (12 inches), but the body itself is much smaller than a tarantula's body and, just like tarantula, they are pretty harmless to humans. Fatalities can, however, occur when they crawl out your dashboard (the like to hide in cars) and freak out the driver and plenty of people fear them around the home (funny video). I had one appear on my steering wheel once!

The world's largest spider is the goliath birdeater tarantula of South America. The fatal spider in Australia we most worry about are the mean looking funnel web, common around Sydney, and the Red Back Spider. Just like the black widow in the US, deaths are relatively infrequent, but it is wise not to turn over rocks with your bare hands in outback Australia.

- Taco Hard-shell taco I could be wrong on this one, but if you order a "taco" in the US it's almost certainly going to be a soft shelled taco NOT a hard-shelled taco. In Australia "taco" usually refers to a "hard-shelled taco" and we call soft shelled tacos burrito or enchilada. Personally I barely know the difference between any of these words (I thought they all meant the same), but since there are far more Mexicans in the US my guess is they are more correct on this one!
1 Biscuit / Bikkie Cookie The word biscuit has a completely different meaning in the Australia/England than the US (see here). In Australia we say "biscuit" to mean a cookie (hard baked product) while in the US a biscuit is "a small, soft, leavened bread, somewhat similar to a scone" - and often covered in fattening gravy-like sauce.
2 Stubby Beer can Stubby is Australian slang for a beer can; as in "pass us another stubby love!".
- Jam Jelly In America jam is called jelly, and jelly is called "jello"! :)
- Tomato sauce Ketchup No points for this, since most people should know both words! It is however, interesting that American's often create new words or ways to "market" things... such as calling Tuna "chicken of the sea" (actually it's a brand), or calling sliced Gerkin "Hamburger dill chips"!
- Chips French fries In Australia, if something comes with 'chips' on the side, it typically means hot chips, which American's call French fries. In Australia and New Zealand "fish and chips" are very popular (and often eaten on or near the back). In the US you if something comes with chips or someone asks for chips, they actually mean a bag of potato chips / crisps and so you might be very disappointed... I have been many times... who would want to eat "crisps" with a meal ?! In the US they eat crisps with meals all the time though. Avoid disappointment and ask to be sure.
- Devon / Stras / Strasburg / Baloney Lunch Sausage This is a cheap manufactured luncheon meat made in Australia and New Zealand which is most similar to "Bologna sausage" elsewhere. A fellow Australian Googler nicknamed "cow" told me he can tell where in Australia someone comes from by what they call this mysterious, nasty and yet very popular sausage shaped meat. He referred me to Wikipedia's Devon entry but says "devon" is even more useful than the page indicates, because in Victoria we generally don't eat Devon. If your description is vague enough, Victorians will usually say 'stras', short for 'strasburg', a la strasburg, which NSW people generally have instead of Devon (it's spicier, more textured, and different in color).
- Bon bon Christmas cracker "Bon bons" are pretty common in Australia around Christmas. I think they are much less common in America, and if they do exist they are called "Christmas crackers"... there a bonbon (one word) is more likely to mean a small sweet covered in chocolate. I put this in the food section, because you usually place them above everyone's plate during the Christmas lunch. When you break it apart with the person next to you, it makes a pop and typically contains 2 or more of these: (1) a silly looking colorful paper crown you must wear during lunch, (2) a really cheap plastic toy (actually "animal shape" is more appropriate - not kid will ever play with this) and (3) a little rolled up kid-friendly joke for you to read out to the table. #3 is typically a really joke lame and around the table, chances are someone else has exactly the same knock-knock joke. Ah the fun of bon bon jokes. :)
- Fairy Floss Cotton Candy This is the pink, or sometimes blue, flossy stuff which you get at the fair. It's pretty much pure sugar, comes on a stick, like most other food at a fair, is terribly unhealthy. Fairy floss sounds a bit gay to American's, but that's what most of us call it in Australia. :)
- Icing Sugar Powdered Sugar Yup, I really am running out of amusing things to say. powdered sugar / icing sugar is more fun to eat than it is as a word.
- Cordial Squash drink There's a popular expression in Australia that you shouldn't give a kid too much "red cordial". Over in America this doesn't translate because the word "cordial" is meaningless.... they're more likely to call it "squash" - a word which Australians know only as a vegetable or the indoor ball game.
1 Barbie Barbecue This one should probably be worth no points: Paul Hogan (from Crocodile Dundee) starred in a tourism Australian commercial where he said "we'll throw another shrimp on the barbie" (shrimp meaning prawn). This line is almost as famous as the expression "dingo ate my baby".
- Frankfurt Weiner It's amusing to an Australian's that you call a the sausage inside a hot dog a wiener.... but probably more amusing that to you that Australian's (and many other countries) call it a Frankfurter - which Australian's often abbreviate to "Frankfurt".
2 Snag Sausage Yes, some Australian's do say "throw another snag on the barbie"! :-)
TOTAL SCORE / 50 I haven't yet calibrated this yet, but my guess is the average American will score about 10... anything over 20 is great... over 30 is brilliant.

Things which are not popular/done in Australia:

  • S'mores: A s'more is a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker - a traditional nighttime campfire treat popular in the US. We don't eat these in Australia, but we do enjoy roasting marshmallows on a campfire on the end of stick.
  • Halloween: We have it, it's just not as big.
  • Thanksgiving: We don't do it at all. I had no idea thanksgiving is actually about four weeks before Christmas! Thanksgiving is the "fourth Thursday of November", and that's usually the time the family gets together, and Christmas itself is a smaller event. In Australia Christmas is the big day and it's the hottest time of the year (opposite seasons there), so it's often sweltering hot. Instead of snow, it's very common to have Christmas by the pool (whoever owns a pool is very popular come Xmas) and you're more likely to see prawns instead of turkey! Some family *may* cook a turkey on Christmas, but often we prefer it cold, plus a lot of other cold meats (Christmas ham and chicken), but seafood and prawns are especially popular in the most northern and therefore most hot areas of Australia.

Words we pronounce differently: "adidas, lychee, mum/mom"

Misconceptions about Auzzie Slang

There are a lot of misconceptions in States about what words Australian's use and vice versa. We do use words like "mate", "g'day", "barbie (as in barbeque)", "snag (as in sausage)" and "no worries" pretty frequently in Australia, but unless you go way out bush you're unlikely to hear words like "cobber", "sheila" and "struth" very often. And yes, only the Crocodile Hunter used "Crikey"! The majority of words you find in any "Australian slang dictionary" are old fashioned words we don't use much anymore - which is a pity, but you have to understand a smaller and smaller percentage of Australian's live in the "outback" these days - most instead living in cities and so if you want the "real Australia", where you will hear colorful words like "blue" you'll have to drive inland to a small town!

Games with Language

  • Accents App ... I met an awesome guy, called Guy, in SF who created this free "Accents" iPhone Application which plays a series of voice snippets and you have to identify as British or Australian. More languages coming soon, but is a great little app.


Acknowledgements: Heather Klat for prompting me to start this list based on all the blank stares she'd give me whenever she didn't understand me. Richard Woodworth, an american in the bay area who somehow helped me add about seven words in one sitting (a record contribution)! Paul (a.k.a. "Cow") from Sydney's Google office for pointing out some fun website and regional differences between words within different Australian states - quite a passion of his along with some interesting vowel changes. Also Nicky Ringland and Sam Thorogood who were amazing enough to host me on a visit to Google Sydney, took great care of me and added lots of great words. :)