So you want to come to Australia...


Originally from http://oshibanashiori.wordpress.com

I've followed @StudyinAustralia on Twitter for some time, but it was only come today, Australia Day, that I decided to see what they were saying about this public holiday, and in turn was redirected to various other articles on Australian slang which didn't exactly strike the right note with me. I think overseas people sometimes underestimate how much Australia as a country has been Americanised now, we won't get confused except in rare circumstances.

You might be wondering why I am following a Twitter that is for Northern Americans coming to Australia, and that's because I'm the opposite, an Australian wanting to go to Northern America. Seeing as there's NO SUCH SERVICE (that I can find anyway, am I looking hard enough?) for us, opting to go the opposite makes perfect sense. Right.

In any case, I was reading this article first, which certainly raised some eyebrows. It's certainly true that I recently learnt (half a year ago now, actually), that people overseas don't understand the word 'rockmelon', because they call it cantaloupe. And 'choko', for that matter, which is chayote. I would be a bit worried about calling capsicum 'ball pepper', but for the rest, I am perfectly able to distinguish unless you're looking for jelly, in which case I would direct you to the gelatine-like substance, yes.

Unless you were going far inland to the parts where more 'Australian' accents prevail, I would not be using aubergine, chook, or bangers any time soon. Most Australians have gathered a knowledge of this 'American' English, simply because Australians are vastly outnumbered anyway, and so knowing that 'ketchup' is tomato sauce is to their advantage when conversing over the internet. McDonalds' (which we like to call 'Maccas', and it seems others do not) seems to be perfectly happy to assist with this anyway - or they were in the past. Tomato sauce packets actually say 'tomato sauce' now.

Ketchup, cookie, chips, shrimp, sausage, chicken, rockmelon, candy (confectionary), eggplant, capsicum, mashed potatoes, oatmeal/porridge, jelly, jam. Chips can refer to both 'crisps' and 'french fries' because of the differences in British and 'American' English. Just refer to whether they are 'hot' or not (hot chips clearly means they are french fries) and you are.. dandy.

... I forgot when I left a comment on that post as well. It's Coles, Woolworths (Woolies), Safeway and IGA (not IAG). I rarely see Safeways though (except far out from Sydney...), and they're commonly assumed to be owned by Woolworths anyway since they usually look so much like one, though I haven't ever checked. Usually you'll just go to Coles and Woolworths, sometimes you might spot an Aldi, which is a whole new world anyway, since they stock German or stuff from other countries.

Oh, and rather than 'malls', they're more like... 'shopping centres'. Notice the 're' and not 'er'. (It's a pain in HTML.)

As for Aussie farings... Meat pie is certainly the best example... That and sausage rolls, I suppose, but it's not always delicious or good for you. That aside, along with Milo, we also stock Nesquik in supermarkets. I never saw it as something particularly 'Australian' given people usually knew what I was referring to. Vegemite is probably the most well known 'Australian' thing. It's yeast extract, and if it's not so lovely for you, it isn't for me either. I'm not a fan, but I would eat it if I had to.

ANZAC biscuits were named as such because they were created and eaten by people in ANZAC, or as we were lead to believe. Lamb is often advertised as Australian meat on television (like this). Perhaps prawns are so commonplace to me, I don't think it's particularly Australian, but I'm used to seeing it called shrimp in various situations in any case.

Kangaroo meat and crocodile you don't often see served. You're more likely to find kangaroo jerky then have a kangaroo meat steak. You would have to search hard...

Perhaps it's unAustralian, but I seem to know more British slang than American or even Australian. Or I don't realise that it is slang - I could only think of 'Fair Dinkum' and 'sheila' so far whenever asked. I'd say this is in fact a fair list, particularly regarding to the differences in academic terminology. I don't call university a college and I almost feel offended (although it feels stupid to do so) when people ask about my college. It's the difference from attending an university to attending TAFE (Technical and Further Education college). I wouldn't go so far as to call a college a 'student residence' though, if you're talking about student housing.

It also weirds me out when people call university 'school', because... as far as I'm concerned, I'm finished with school. I've finished high school, I've finished primary school. What I would be interested in is an article about elementary school, middle school, and high school vs the primary school and high school system that we have here. When I say that I'm going to university though, I say that I'm going to uni. It's just what I'm used to.

A 'course' for me is my DEGREE, and a 'subject' is the 'classes' I'm taking that semester, although that's not exactly right either, when you consider classes are the lectures and tutorials that you have... "I have class now." Well, that's English for you.

But a course for N.Americans is a 'subject', and a 'subject' is... Actually, I don't even understand it anymore. Just reading what my Canadian friend has written can give me a headache unless I 'translate' the words. They don't realise it either, so I have to translate what I say instead. I don't think they know how lucky they are.

Back to the list of 'Australianisms'; furfie and sanger I personally do not know of.. It seems sometimes that it is assumed more of us use slang than we do, and that is perhaps the case if you were thinking of going to Western Australia, maybe, or to a more rural area. On the coast in the urban centres, however, in my experience you would rarely hear someone use slang to that degree. 'Heaps', 'lollies', prezzie, roo, sunnies, thongs and take away, perhaps, but not the more far-fetched ones.

Although the slang used in this video they linked makes sense to me for the most part, personally I have rarely come across anyone who would talk that way and tell you to go a few clicks, but maybe I run in more international circles. Given Australia is such a multicultural country though (as we like to think), although you may come across the usual bogans and westies (sorry), oftimes I would not suggest going out of your way to use 'fair dinkum' or 'bangers and mash'.

It may depend on which area you go to and your degree of internet literacy, but the power of the internet in bringing countries together and the influence of Hollywood and American media should not be underestimated. Essentially the point I want to make is that calling a chicken a chicken is not going to make anyone confused. Maybe it's exaggerated there to encourage the learning of culture, but being typecasted is not desired, and you don't want to look silly either. How many people have gone to another place and simply realised it's very different to how they have been reading about? Globalisation is a funny thing.

Don't forget the budgie smugglers though... Tony Abbot likes his Speedos.

(As always, you can agree or disagree with me. This is just MY point of view. No other.)