Three years ago I was living on the Gold Coast of Australia and reflecting on the differences between life in Canada and life there. Despite Canada and Australia sharing similarities, the differences in language were an area that I noticed the most. Using Australian slang, based on shortening (and often adding an -o or an -ie) required practice, and asking a lot of questions to my Australian co-workers and friends.
Below are some thoughts on slang, and a story about a frog.
Australian Slang Terms I have learned:
pram (stroller), bub (baby), creche (daycare)
push bike (bicycle)
avo (avocado), capsicum (bell pepper), brekkie (breakfast), frosties (cereal), tomato sauce (ketchup), sachet (packaging)
bikie(biker – as in biker gang), tradie (trades person), sparky (electrician)
boardies (board shorts), togs/ swimmers (swimsuits), thongs (flip flops), jumper (sweater)
fuel/petrol (gas), bitumen (asphalt), wagon (suv), fourbie (4×4) (sp?) servo (service / gas station)
lift (elevator), car park (parking lot), foot path (sidewalk), jug (pitcher – or kettle)
my shout (my treat)
As I mark one year in Australia I stare up at the ceiling before I go to bed and think of the words I use nearly all the time. My parents have come to visit from Canada, and I notice the differences in vocabulary a lot more.
It is a coping mechanism, to use slang as much as possible. I still say things from time to time that most people in my life (here) think are weird.
A recent example – a friend wanted me to bring a “jug” to a barbeque so that she could make juice. In Canada we would call it a pitcher. Driving home, I asked for the pitcher back, and she had no idea what I was talking about, and her and another friend started laughing.
I didn’t really think that much had changed between a year ago and today – but it’s snowballed and I’ve realized some very specific and unique things have changed:
My favorite was – I found a tree frog hiding in the boot/trunk of our wagon/suv. This, of course, was after driving about 25 km to pick up my parents at the airport. There is nowhere to put a fist sized tree frog when you are in the middle of a car park/parking lot.
The frog managed to survive the return trip, and I was able to get him out of the wagon – remembering that human skin is generally not very good for frogs, I grabbed my gardening gloves first.
It looked like he was ok.
Australia is full of surprises.