Thursday, April 24, 2014

Becoming More Australian

I’ve just finished “Becoming More Australian” and I recommend you all read it (no idea if your local library would have such a book, but it’s worth checking).  It’s an easy and entertaining read; plus it has loads of random (and possibly useless – unless you plan to visit) facts.  Here’s a quick smattering of sentences from the section on their language:
“G’day mate, ow ya goin?  Come on, avego at Aussie English….  So what do you get when you mix Irish, English, Scottish and then gradually add a number of other languages and leave them to simmer on a hot island?  You get Strine – ‘Australian English’.  Strine is the broad Australian accent, so broad that the word ‘Strine’ is actually what the word ‘Australian’ sounds like down under….  Aussies also love comparisons, for instance: ‘flat out like a lizard drinking’ (busy) or ‘like a possum up a gum tree’ (happy).  They will also abbreviate everything that can (and cannot or should not be abbreviated): Barbie (barbeque), arvo (afternoon), sunnies (sunglasses), cossie (swimming costume), mozzie (mosquito), brekkie (breakfast), cuppa (cup of tea) and servo (service station).  Sometimes they are merely suggestive of the original: sparkie (electrician), chippie (carpenter) and chalkie (teacher).”

Now doesn’t that just make you want to read the book?  No worries (they say that for just about everything) if you’re not sold on the idea – I don’t offend easily.  From my own personal experience, they do indeed feel the need to shorten everything.  There is an add on TV right now trying to get you to buy Australian Mandarin Oranges because they’re in season now, but they call them “Mandies” the whole commercial.  At surf camp they called the wet suites “wetties” and at the time I thought they were calling it brekkie because they were surfers (most of them weren’t even Australian), not because that’s what it’s called in Australia.  Two other Aussie phrases I’ve been introduced to are, “I couldn’t give cheese away at a rat’s picnic” (meaning something is utterly useless), and “carried on like a pork chop” (meaning behaved in a silly manner).  I love the last one and it reminds me of how we say someone is “being a ham” or “hamming it up” when someone is acting silly in the U.S. 

So if you’re looking for a nice, undemanding book to read, I’d suggest you pick up a copy for yourself.  The book isn’t just about Strine, it gives a rundown on Aussie sports, food, and culture too!  As the back of the book explains, “You’ll learn why you should drive a ute, how to tell a kangaroo from a wallaby…how to play footie, enjoy cricket and a whole lot more!”  The chapter on the “ute” (which is pronounced ‘yoot’) is quite informative.  Where else would I have learned that kangaroos cannot fart or move their legs independently?   I definitely recommend the chapter on Aussie foods –I’m going to have to go buy myself some Tim Tams to try.  I’m sure you’ll find something interesting in this book, no matter your nationality or future travel plans.

This is a "ute" - half car, half pickup

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