International Lingo

Reply Sat 6 Aug, 2016 07:33 pm

23 (Australian) expressions you’ll never hear an American say

“I’M totally run off my feet!”

“Wait, where are you running to?” Never mind.

I’ve been living in the United States for just over seven months now, and while an American could pick me as an Australian as soon as they hear me introduce myself (note ‘Cha-lotte’, not ‘Charr-let’), there are some beloved Aussie expressions I’ve reluctantly had to cut loose.

It all began during my first week in the New York office, when I casually told my new colleagues to “have a nice arvo” before heading out the door. The lengthy silence that followed grew awkward blank stares, concerned expressions, I could see the cogs ticking over.

Eventually one woman pipes up, “what’s an ar-vo?”

This was the first of so many confusing situations I found myself in after dropping a token Aussie phrase into a sentence when surrounded by American mates (sorry, I mean buddies.)

I soon realised that our impressive ability to shorten pretty much anything — greetings, everyday remarks, even nicknames get nicknames — doesn’t necessarily translate overseas.

Classics like “thongs”, “trackies”, “cozzies” and “sunnies” were the first to go, while other unique one-liners were a little slower to be eliminated. Some, I learned the hard way.

Here are 23 Aussie phrases that Americans don’t really understand:

1) “How are you going?”

Translation: How are you?

Reaction: Um, I’m not going anywhere ...

2) “I’m snowed under”

Translation: I have a lot of sh*t to do, OK?

Reaction: What exactly are you under?

3) “Have a nice arvo”

Translation: Have a nice afternoon.

Reaction: What the hell is an ar-vo?

4) “It’s midday”

Translation: It’s 12pm.

Reaction: You mean noon?

5) “I’m having vege on toast for brekkie”

Translation: I’m having vegemite on toast for breakfast. Obviously.

Reaction: Vegetables? On Toast? For WHAT?

6) “Anyone want a bevvy?”

Translation: Would anyone like a beverage? (usually the alcoholic variety. NB: The answer is rarely ‘no’)

Reaction: I might, if I knew what you were offering.

7) “It’s like 37 degrees out there!”

Translation: It’s like 93 degrees out there.

Reaction: Ha! Oh yeah, you guys use celsius down there.

8) “Coriander”

Translation: Cilantro

Reaction: I don’t think we sell that variety here.

9) “Uni”

Translation: University

Reaction: Erm, college?

10) “My shout!”

Translation: I’ve got this round/I’ve got the bill

Reaction: What are you shouting about?

11) “I’ll fix you up”

Translation: I’ll pay you back.

Reaction: On a date? With drugs? What am I getting myself into here?

12) “I’m chockers!”

Translation: I’m super full, don’t let me eat another bite, no I mean it, take my plate away!

Reaction: Room for chocolate? Game of checkers?

13) “I reckon”

Translation: I think/ I believe.

Reaction: **tumbleweed

14) “Where’s a servo?”

Translation: Where’s the nearest petrol station?

Reaction: A deli? A corner store? A drugstore?

15) “No dramas/no worries!”

Translation: You’re welcome.

Reaction: I’m not worried.

16) “Heaps!”

Translation: A lot of something.

Reaction: Loads?

17) “Smoking a durrie”

Translation: Smoking a cigarette.

Reaction: Smoking WHAT? Is it legal?

18) “He/she was blind!”

Translation: More than a little intoxicated.

Reaction: Didn’t look blind to me.

19) “Ta”

Translation: Thank you.

Reaction: Pretty sure that sound you just made was NOT English.

20) “Righto”

Translation: Alright then, yes OK.

Reaction: Huh?

21) “I’m only mucking around”

Translation: I’m joking.

Reaction: Some kind of joke?

22) “I’m taking the p*ss”

Translation: I’m mocking you.

Reaction: You’re taking a p*ss?

23) “I’ll suss it out”

Translation: I’ll figure out what’s going on and report back.

Reaction: Stop talking.
Reply Sat 6 Aug, 2016 07:36 pm
2) “I’m snowed under” will be perfectly understood, by the way.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2016 12:49 am
An awful lot of those sayings are normal in British speech too.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2016 01:10 pm
A lot of them are normal in American speech, too.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2016 02:52 pm
Some of it may have to do with accent, and cultural elocution (I think that's right).

My sister lives in the US.

She mentioned saying "Good on her" in response to how a woman had handled herself, and getting confused stares. It wasn't what she said, but how she said it, which sounded like "Good Honor" to her fellow Americans. How she said it (dropping the 'h' in 'her' for that particular saying), is very common in Australia.

She also told me about asking for a glass of water at a restaurant - several times, because the waitress didn't understand her. Her husband had to repronounce the 'a' for her, because Australians pronounce water as worter (or worta)
Reply Sun 7 Aug, 2016 03:36 pm
vikorr wrote:
She also told me about asking for a glass of water at a restaurant - several times, because the waitress didn't understand her. Her husband had to repronounce the 'a' for her, because Australians pronounce water as worter (or worta)

Tell me about it. Most not all Americans seem to speak 'rhotically', that is they pronounce their Rs (as they do in the West of England) and if you don't do that, many times they just can't tell what you're saying, I was once in a gas station in Wisconsin in a little town a bit like in the Fargo TV series, and the lady at the cash register asked me where I was from. After I told her, she said she liked my accent. Gallantly, I said I liked hers. She said "But Ah haven't gawt an ahhccent!"
0 Replies
Robert Gentel
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2016 07:25 pm
The only ones I think most English speakers who are unfamiliar with Australian slang would not easily understand on this list are:

vege (but anyone who knows anything about Australia will get this)
"my shout" (but context should make it easy)
chockers (but "chock full" is known and again context makes it easy)
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2016 07:39 pm
@Robert Gentel,
There's also:
- Sanga (sandwich)
- Snag (sausage)
- tinnie (can of beer - don't know if that makes it to other countries)
- and I'm guessing that a number of words for intoxicated / drinking will vary from country to country, but as you mention - context usually makes those understandable

Robert Gentel
Reply Mon 8 Aug, 2016 07:49 pm
First two would confuse most, tinnie might be understood as any can once you get used the Australian penchant to abbreviate with diminutives.

"Maccas" would get most people confused...
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2016 06:44 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

"Maccas" would get most people confused...

Really??? But US is the home of Maccas?!
Robert Gentel
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2016 12:47 pm
Yeah but the American nickname for it is "McD's" (Mickey-D's).
0 Replies
Reply Wed 7 Sep, 2016 10:57 pm
Her husband had to repronounce the 'a' for her, because Australians pronounce water as worter (or worta)

How ineffably risible, sorta.

Waddaya hafta do to get a glassa wadda? Little wonder they're called a "weird mob" .

I heard one render the elision, "Owyagoin", as if it were one word, instead of "How do you do" , and "fargonbewdy" which I naturally assumed was a reference to Fargo only to be informed that it was a profanity indicative of delight.

0 Replies

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