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Traveling to Australia? Here's a Quick Guide to the Aussie Language

Mar 18, 2008
"Don't they speak English in Australia?" I hear you ask. You'll be pleased to know that they do. It's just that they sometimes speak it a little differently. If you are planning to travel to the land of Oz, here's a brief guide to help you.

But first, try this sample quiz on typical Aussie phrases. Don't worry if you don't get them. Even some Aussies find them baffling. The answers are at the end of the article. (no peeping!)

5 typical Australian phrases.

1) Emma chisit.
2) I'm a bit crook today.
3) Bloody good tucker
4) A few kangaroos short in the top paddock.
5) Technicolor yawn.

5 Commonly used Aussie words.

1) Bloke.
An Aussie male. If he's a reasonable person, he may be referred to as "A good bloke". If not he may be called a tosser or even stronger expletives.

2) Shiela.
Sometimes used as another word for "woman", although rarely used in the southern states. It can be also used as a derogatory term. Aussie men love their sport and if the footy team they barrack for loses, the blokes in the team could be described as playing "like a bunch of bloody shielas".

3) G'day.
An Aussie greeting meaning "good morning," or "good afternoon". It could also mean "how are you?", or "how the bloody hell are you?" This term is regularly used everywhere in Australia when Aussie blokes get together.
When you meet an Australian, the usual greeting you will receive is "G'day", sometimes "G'day mate" or "G'day cobber". It is sometimes followed by "How ya goin' mate", perhaps "How ya goin".

4) Mate.
Most Aussie blokes call their friends "mate" whether at the footy, downing a coldie in the pub, enjoying a tinnie around the barbie, or at work. It's also very convenient if you've forgotten someone's name. Another word for mate is "cobber".

5) Shout.
In Australia, this word can have 2 meanings. It can mean to call out loud, but if you're in a pub drinking with your mates and it's your turn to buy, it's your shout.
If you're with a group of blokes you are part of a "school". The worst thing you can do is refuse to buy when it's your shout. Words such as "bludger" and "free loader" may be directed at you.

Here are your answers.

1) Emma chisit.
If you are enquiring about the price of something in a shop, it is logical to ask "Emma chisit", which of course means "How much is it?

2) I'm a bit crook today.
Crook can be another name for a criminal, but it is also a word used if you are feeling unwell. You may also say you are "feeling crook" and if you are feeling really crook, you are "as crook as a dog" and may have to take "a sickie", meaning a day off work. This phrase is very closely related to number 5.

3) Bloody good tucker.
If you use this phrase, you are complimenting your host on a fine, tasty meal. It is believed to have originated from the poem "Waltzing Matilda" by the famous Australian poet "Banjo Paterson" where he described a dog sitting on a tucker box. A tucker box is where food is stored. It is now called a lunch box.

4) A few kangaroos short in the top paddock.
This sentence is not very complimentary. It means not very bright, dull or as thick as 2 short planks. Two other phrases with similar meanings: "A few tomatoes short of a sandwich" and "A chop short of a barbie".

5) Technicolor yawn.
Sometimes an Aussie bloke (or shiela) may imbibe too heavily in the singing syrup or amber fluid (beer). When combined with a generous serving of prawns, it may result in the unpleasant experience sometimes also called a liquid laugh and other disgusting terms such as chunder, spew or chuck up.

Well, how ja go? Sorry, how did you go? If you answered 4 or 5 correctly congratulations, you could almost be an Aussie! If 3 or less, it's not your fault. It's just that you haven't been exposed to our unique version of the English language. And the only way to learn it, is to travel to Oz and practice on the locals.

The best place of course, is the front bar of the local rubbidy. ( rubbidy dub, pub, hotel.) And if you're in a school, don't forget to buy when it's your shout. Independent travelers, including single women travelers, love this contact with the locals, particularly in the northern and outback parts of Australia, where the broad Aussie accent is more evident.
About the Author
Discover more about Australia's unique language and culture in Australian travel expert Graeme Lanham's latest Ebook "Travel Tips Australia". Please visit:
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