Let me share with you a funny story. You see, I am part of a project team at work that mainly consists of Australians. One time I was reviewing a document with an Australian (born and raised) manager and he provided me some feedback on the document. He then proceeded to end his feedback with “and Bob’s your uncle!” My immediate response was, “Bob’s not my uncle!” You can understand my confusion because:
- There’s actually a Bob that works in the same department as us
- He is Anglo Australian and I am Chinese
- What does family have to do with this?!
My Australian manager looked confused himself and then realized the situation. He started laughing hysterically while I sat there in utter confusion.
What I’ve learned is that the phrase, “Bob’s your uncle!” is equivalent to “and there you have it” or “and there it is”. Apparently, this phrase is commonly used in the UK and commonwealth countries but I’ve never came across it in Canada.
Although we all speak English, I was quite ignorant because I thought communication shouldn’t be an issue, boy was I wrong! I can’t count how many times I had no idea what the other person was saying. It was as if they were speaking to me in a completely differently language. What I do notice is that Australia adopts some of the slangs from the UK. Canada is heavily influenced by the US while Australia is influenced by the UK due to geographical reasons. I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the differences in Canadian and Australian slang based on my experience.
- ‘Partner’ = husband/wife/same-sex partner/ girlfriend/ boyfriend
Not really a slang but the term ‘partner’ is commonly used to in Australia to describe husband/wife/ same-sex partner/ girlfriend/ boyfriend. In Canada, most people would use the term husband/wife etc to identify their partner and typically the word ‘partner’ is usually used in the context for same-sex partner. So, you can imagine my confusion when I first started my job walking around the office thinking everyone had a same-sex partner. My understanding is that Australia is trying to adopt gender neutral terms in order to include the LGBTI community. Also, I was told that boyfriend/girlfriends sounds very juvenile.
- The word “C*NT”
When I first came to Australia, I was shocked how often the word ‘c*nt’ is casually thrown around amongst Australians (mainly amongst guys from what I’ve observed) and their friends. This word is commonly used in a positive way. In Canada, you would probably use it to describe your worst enemy. As for Australians, they would call their best friends c*nts and acquaintances, strangers or worst enemies, mates. Kind of confusing I know. Of course, not ALL Australians call their friends ‘c*nts’. It’s odd to say but living in Australia has somehow made me flinch a lot less if I hear the word. However, I have never been called a ‘c*nt’, well at least to my face anyways, nor do I use the word.
- NEVER, I repeat, NEVER use the word ‘root’ in Australia
I know in North America, we love to use the phrase ‘I’m rooting for –insert sports team-’ to show support for your favorite sports team. Here in Australia, there is a whole different meaning to it. The word ‘root’ is an offensive slang for “to have sexual intercourse with”. Australians seems to love anything that is sports related so you can imagine their shock when I asked them “which team are you rooting for?”
- Shortening words and adding ‘o’ at the end of the word
Allow me to explain, Australians are stereotyped as being pretty laid back and enjoying life. I feel that is reflective on their speech. Aussies love to shorten words such as car registrations = rego. You will find some of the words listed in the tables below.
- Aussie Slang
There were so many times that I was lost in translation when communicating with the locals. I have created the table below to summarise some of the slangs I have learned to date:
|Aussie Slang||My Initial Thoughts||Meaning|
|How ya going?||I’m going THIS way…||How are you?|
|Chuck a sickie||Throwing a sickle and it sounded very violent||To use a sick day even though you are not sick|
|Ta||Ta…da?||Even shorter way to say thanks|
|Bogan/yobbo||Da fuq?!||Red neck|
|Fair dinkum||A spell from Harry Potter||Questioning someone’s assertion|
|Taking THE piss||Peeing||Are you joking?!|
|Getting on the piss||Another way to say peeing||Drinking alcohol|
|Pissed||What’s with Australians and the word ‘piss’?!||Drunk|
|F*ck me dead||…No thank you||That’s unfortunate or that surprises me|
The below are a list of differences I’ve come across:
|Every two weeks||Bi-weekly||Fortnightly|
|Men’s swimsuit bottom||Men speedo||Budgie smugglers|
|‘z’ used in words eg.||Realize, specialize||Realise, specialise|
|Vacation Days||Vacation Days||Annual Leave|
|Liquor Store||Liquor Store||Bottle Shop or Bottle-o|
|Gas Station||Gas Station||Petrol Station or servo|
|Place to buy medicine||Pharmacy||Chemist|
|McDonald||Mcdicks or Micky D||Maccas|
|Word to elicit agreement||Eh?||Ey?|
Although there were many times where I found myself in awkward conversations, I actually find it really interesting to learn Aussie slang and comparing it to Canadian slang. In my opinion, Australians have way more slangs than Canada does. This post was a snapshot of Aussie slangs that I have learned to date and I am looking forward to learning more in the coming year. What are some of your slangs in your country that is commonly used?