Archive for the ‘Aussie Grammar’ Category

© thingsaussieslike.wordpress.comI‘ve had to take a break from posting lately because I’ve been busier than ever. Australian immigration required that I leave the country again in order for my partner visa to be issued to me… It’s hard to explain it all in one breath — Here is what all I’ve gone through since the first day I arrived Down Under: I was here first on a 12-month tourist visa. When that expired, I had to go offshore and apply for my partner visa and another tourist visa. While the partner visa processed, I could return to Australia on my new tourist visa {only 6 months were granted to me} and await the partner visa. When my partner visa was ready, it could only be granted if I again left Oz… Are you still with me? Any questions?

Since there are no countries immediately bordering Australia that we could just drive to, my husband and I had become almost hopelessly broke from airfares/traveling fees & all of the visa fees. Thankfully Australian immigration also has finally allowed me to start searching for work now {I was not allowed to work on a tourist visa — Without an already existing & valid work sponsor down here, you can’t get a work visa if you’re over the age of 30}. But, with my sanity and humor humour still intact, I have also came across a slew of new & hilarious Aussie-isms — Some might make your head spin!

One evening recently, we had friends from “Vico” {aka Victoria} up for a visit. We decided to keep dinner simple: throw it all on the “barbie” {aka barbecue}. However, I kept calling the barbecue “the grill”. They started to take the piss out of me for this, to which I facetiously would say grill instead whenever possible. Where I’m from, they call it a barbecue, grill or even a Weber {Weber’s U.S. website even calls them “grills”}. Whatever, right? Down here you call it the barbie or the barbecue. A “grill” is what some homes down here have, if they have a stove “cooktop” and oven unit combination, or a “cooker”. You can also have a cooker {eg, a slow cooker} on your kitchen “benchtop”, or what I’ve always known to be a counter or countertop… Anyway, the grill is a separate cooking compartment above the oven. And the stove is not a “stove”, folks. It’s known as a “cooktop” by the Aussies. Thankfully a spoon is also called a spoon in the merry old land of Oz.

And now I’ve got my own car — I’m learning new words for parts of this car left and right! The hood over the engine of the car is the “bonnet”, the trunk is the “boot”, the windshield is the “windscreen”… And don’t forget that lights and bulbs are “lamps” or “globes”. Oh, and the flashlight in the emergency kit is a “torch”. Driving while sitting on the other side of the car {right-side drive in Australia} is one thing, but driving a manual transmission, shifting gears with your left hand for the first time, is another! Mostly all of the laws of the road are the same, but you’ll find much more roundabouts than in America. And pedestrians walk on a “footpath”, not on a sidewalk. They also cross at a “zebra crossing”, not at a crosswalk. You’ll also notice some streets are called “parade” {abbreviated pde} or “crescent” {abbreviated cres} — These are new to me. As for the fuel, if it’s not diesel, you can say you’re going to the gas station service station or the “servo” to get fuel or unleaded, but always make sure you specifically call it “petrol” and not gas or gasoline. “Gas” is LPG down here…

We’re also smack in the middle of renovations a “reno” in the home, so we’ve had to employ some tradesmen, or “tradies”, like a “sparky” {aka electrician}, a “chippy” {aka carpenter}, and a “bricky” {aka bricklayer}. Last, but not least, there’s the “poo man”… Can you guess which one that is?

A plumber. Seriously.
I would have reckoned a “plumby” or “plumbo”, but no…

Unless the plumber was also just taking the piss out of me, that’s what I’m told some plumbers are calling themselves here Down Under.  {I’ve double-checked with my husband and, yes, this is what some plumbers call themselves — As a matter of fact, he has a good mate who is a plumber, who also refers to himself as a “poo man”…}

If you have red hair {I don’t}, you could be called:

Ranga {short for orangutan} — Said rang-uh
Bluey {also what blue bottle jellyfish are called by the Aussies}

Don’t be offended — It’s normal here.

If you’re tired, you can say you’re “knackered”, “buggered”, or that you’re simply “stuffed”.

For those who are thirsty —

Wanna have some coffee?

“Flat white” = Similar to a latte or café au lait; a cappuccino also comes close, but the foam is dry instead.
“Short black” = This is an espresso, usually served in a little cup.
“Long black” = This is an Americano. It’s a coffee which is half-water with a shot or two of espresso.

Keen for a beer?

“Schooner” = Usual size of a beer served in a pub, it’s just slightly smaller than a pint.
“Pot” = Almost a half-pint of beer.
“Middy” = Same as a “pot”.
“Draught” = Draft. I’m always chatting away about this one…

Or do you fancy some fruity-type of drink?

“Cordial” = {note: some Aussies pronounce this “cordigal”} This is a concentrated non-alcoholic syrup. Most choices are fruit flavors flavours or are made from fruit juice. Before you drink it, it’s to be mixed with water, but it can optionally be mixed with club soda or alcohol. Kind of like Kool-Aid
= Similar to cordial.
“Lemonade” = It’s not American lemonade, which is made from lemons, water and sugar. According to Wikipedia:

In Australia and New Zealand, lemonade can also refer to any clear, carbonated soft drink with a primarily lemon flavor; e.g. a lemon-lime soft drink, such as Sprite. Culturally however, with a drink such as Sprite, the flavor is not recognised as “lemon-lime”, but just plain “lemonade”, although it is still the same flavor as its international counterpart. Other colored (and flavored) soft drinks are sometimes referred to by their color such as “red lemonade” or “green lemonade”, implying that “lemonade” is the clear version of its “flavored” counterparts.

I have put together a list of Aussie slang and Aussie-isms {I constantly add more to it too} on this page, if you want to see more.

Now if you thought that this was bad, you should make your next stop to the very lovely New Zealand, like we did. We went to New Zealand while my partner visa was to be issued and visited the south island. Upon arrival, we were told to get some crayfish in Kaikoura at “Nun’s Bun” — That would be “Nin’s Bin”, actually. Someone spelled a word out for me and said something like “hitch” for the letter H {for H, Aussies say haytch, instead of aytch}. That was awfully confusing for me, but I loved hearing the Kiwis {it’s OK to call someone from New Zealand a “Kiwi”} say “fish and chips” — It sounded like fwush-en-chups.

Here’s a sample of the dialect in New Zealand:

Another sort of Aussie-ism, Aussies like to take the piss out of the way that the Kiwis speak, so this video was quite popular with a lot of people Down Under.

Update 24 May 2012:

I’ve just begun reading this book called Boned by Anonymous — It’s an Australian book, based in Sydney. I have only just begun reading the prologue of the book and within 2 pages find that there are several words which you’d need an Aussie English to American English dictionary to help guide you. The words that you might need to look up there: short black, trackie daks, message bank, bugger, verandah, CBD, sculled…


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Surf's up!

Australians are prone to be drawn to the shores one way or another because their country is surrounded on all sides by water. Roughly eighty percent of Australians live within 80 miles of the sea and 50 percent of the country’s houses sit less than 8 miles from a beach {source}, so you will certainly find beach culture in the land of Oz, and the choice of which beach to visit is simple — In the Sydney-area alone, there are over 50 beaches {click here to see a list of them all}. Aussies enjoy the beach in many ways and one such way is surfing.

Do I surf?
Not really, but I will try to take advantage of it this summer.

Do all Aussies surf?
No, but I’m personally surrounded by the surfing culture here Down Under, so I’m surprised I didn’t add this to the list much sooner. It’s always on my mind — Even as I drove recently through Narrabeen, the Beach Boys song “Surfing U.S.A.” came to mind:

You’d catch ’em surfin’ at Del Mar
Ventura County line
Santa Cruz and Trestle
Australia’s Narrabeen
All over Manhattan
And down Doheny Way
Everybody’s gone surfin’
Surfin’ U.S.A.

Do Aussie surfers have a slang?
Yes. Along with the Shaka sign they might sign at each other, you also might hear them say some of these international terms, but Aussies have a few of their own terms as well:
· Aggro = Aggression  {“A lot of aggro in the water today…”}.
· Boardies = Boardshorts.
· Blow in = Out of town surfer.
· Leggie = The urethane band (or rope) that attaches your board to your ankle.
· Rashie = Rash guard.
· Rippin’ = Surfing really well.
· Steamer = A full wetsuit with long arms and long legs.
You can find a complete list here.

How can I learn to surf?
Some beaches offer surfing lessons.  In Manly, in the Sydney-area, there is one that I know of for kids and adults {click here}.  Otherwise, you can learn all around the world.  Click here for more info.

I’ve heard about fake reefs — What are those?
Yes, artificial reefs have been created for surfing.  Click here to learn more about this.

Which beaches are the most famous to surf in Australia?
There are so many, such as Bells Beach in Victoria.  I found a good website with more information about the best surfing locations here.

Who are the most famous Aussie surfers today?
There are many.  Here are a few —
Mick Fanning.
Taj Burrow.
Stephanie Gilmore.
Sally Fitzgibbons.
More here.

What time of day is the best time to surf?
It depends.  In Australia, there is a handy website set up for surfers on Coastalwatch  — There are even iPhone apps available for surfers to check the swell forecast while on the go.

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Surfers at Burleigh Heads in Queensland

What about surf gear?
Shortboards, longboards, wet suits, rash guards, surf wax… The list goes on and on!  Click here to learn more.

Do Aussie surfers ever become hostile?
They can. Sometimes locals can be territorial about where they surf, so this is something to keep in mind. If you’ve come in from out of town and they know it, you might come across some hostility, aka surf rage. Best to know the surf etiquette! This should also apply to boogie/body boarders {who surfers here call “boogers” and “spongers”}. Share the water.

Are there surf-gangs in Australia?
Yes. One famous surf-gang in Australia is from Maroubra, and they are the Bra Boys. Click here to learn more about them. I suggest you also watch Bra Boys: Blood is Thicker than Water, a documentary written and directed by members of the gang, narrated by actor Russell Crowe {he’s originally from New Zealand, by the way}.

Last but not least — Wear sunblock!
As I learned just a week ago… I was on Whale Beach in the sun for less than 40 minutes {without sunblock — doh! Never again!}, the Australian sun is not very forgiving. The highest skin cancer rate in the world? Australia. Check out this link for more info.

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No, not thong underwear. We’re talking about flip-flops or jandals.

Aussies love to wear thongs and have for over 50 years. According to Wikipedia:

“Thongs became popular in Australia after being worn by the Australian Olympic swimming team at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956.”

Even during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony, Kylie Minogue rode to the stage on a giant thong

When they aren’t going barefoot, I’ve seen Aussies wearing thongs everywhere Down Under, and this is possibly because roughly 80% of the population lives within 50 km {approximately 30 miles} of the beach. And keep in mind that you can get away with wearing thongs almost anywhere down here.

Single or double pluggers?
According to Urban Dictionary:

“The highest standard of thongs, these have two plugs though the sole on each side.  If the pair has only one plug through the sole, then they’re only good for showers.  With two plugs you can wear them out to dinner, to the pub, a wedding, a funeral…”

Seasonal attire?
Some Aussies would probably wear them all year, if they could. Even on one cold winter day in Sydney, which was about 10°C {that’s 50°F}, I saw a woman on the train who was wearing a pair of thongs. However you’ll more likely to see thongs worn in the Sydney-area from September through April at the beach and around town.

The brands:
· Havaianas
· Cobian
· Quiksilver/Roxy
· Crocs

There are more, but the most popular brand of thongs seem to be Havaianas.

Aussie Flag Thong

Aussie Thong Inflatable Pool Floaty-thingy

What do I think?
At first, it was tough for me to say “thongs.” I kept thinking of the “Thong Song” by Sisqo… I’m over that now.

I now own 3 pairs of thongs, which is also the total amount of pairs I’d owned in my entire life before coming to Australia, plus I have 2 pairs of terry cloth terry towelling thongs for around the house. I don’t like to wear thongs everyday because it’s bad for the feet, but I certainly have adopted them into my wardrobe. The pairs I own range from laid-back, just plain black or brown, to dressy, bedazzled with embellishments.

I believe I’m starting to fit in Down Under…

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Within the first day 12 hours of being in Sydney, I was introduced to meat pies by an Australian. It was outside of the hotel I stayed in {Blue at Woolloomooloo — Say that 10 times, fast}, my very first night in Australia, at a Harry’s Cafe de Wheels stand, one of many locations found in the Sydney-area.  Upon approach, I was told all about meat pies and how Harry’s was a classic with such fervor fervour.  I noted it.

What is a meat pie?
A meat pie is hand-sized and filled with diced or minced meat and gravy, sometimes also onions, mushrooms, etc {more here}.

There are many varieties to choose from, as well as a number of vegetarian-options. I remember these also being available in America in the frozen food-section of the supermarket, known as “pot pies.”

Where are meat pies sold?
Meat pies are sold all over Australia, but here are a few places around Sydney where you’ll easily find them:

· Harry’s Cafe de Wheels
· Robertson Pie Shop
· Pie Face
· Pie in the Sky
· Convenience stores and “servos” {Aussie for “service station”}
· Pubs
· Outdoor kiosks/stands — Some sell Mrs. Mac’s pies.
· Sports arenas

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Pie and Can — Outside of a store near Austinmer Beach in NSW

Many of the places which sell meat pies might want for you to know that they have been somehow at some time rated best meat pie — There even is an annual “Official Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition” — Somehow it matters, but it doesn’t mean their meat pie tastes any good today. Word of mouth has told me that Harry’s, Robertson, Upper Crust and another called Hamlet’s sell the best…

Many of the Aussies I know call a meat pie with tomato sauce “dog’s eye and dead horse.”  It’s part of their “rhyming slang,” which you can read more about here.

How to eat a meat pie dog’s eye and dead horse:
Either top the meat pie with tomato sauce or smother each bite with tomato sauce.  It’s an on-the-go type of food, so it’s available takeaway and usually easy to eat while sitting on the train or ferry.  You can also order it with mash {Aussie for “mashed potatoes”}, {mushy} peas and/or gravy and eat it with a fork and knife.

Best and worst meat pies I’ve ever eaten:
I had one from Harry’s which was good, called a “tiger.” It is served with mash, mushy peas and gravy. Pie Face, on two separate attempts, was the worst.  I just suggest you try them all so you can judge for yourself.  My next pie will be from Cronulla Pie Shop.

Do Aussies really love meat pies?
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Be sure to mention it the next time you meet an Australian and most likely their eyes will light up. If they’re abroad, it might even make them homesick.

Here’s some more proof of how much Aussies love meat pies:

Remember — They love “football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.”

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A snag on the barbie

Aussies love sausages and, to avoid any further confusion, it’s best to know that they call them “snags” and “bangers.”

They are available in a plethora of flavors flavours, such as:

· Sun Dried Tomato & Basil
· Honey Macadamia Chicken
· Beef, Mushroom & Garlic
· Moroccan Lamb
· Apricot Chicken  

Australians will eat their sausages with mash {Aussie for “mashed potatoes”} and they call this “bangers and mash,” which is also an English-thing, but more commonly they’ll eat their sausage wrapped in a slice of bread, which they’ll usually call a “banger sanger,” smothered with grilled onions and either tomato sauce or barbecue sauce. Sausage sandwiches are often sold for fundraising purposes outside of hardware stores like Bunnings or at a sporting event, and they call this a sausage sizzle.” Aussies also eat sausage rolls and these are wrapped in a flaky pastry and available at takeaway shops.

Another English-thing the Aussies like, and known colloquially by Aussies as “savs,” saveloys are a seasoned hot dog-like sausage. They are boiled and served in a slice of bread or in a bread roll with tomato sauce.  A “battered sav” is a battered saveloy which has been battered, deep fried and served with tomato sauce.  A “battered sav” is usually also available at fish and chip shops.

“Battered sav” also carries another meaning in Aussie slang.  During their commentary of the Sydney 2000 Olympics games, Australian comedic duo Roy & HG on “The Dream” redefined “battered sav” as a gymnast move where, in some movements, a male gymnast pushes his groin to the floor and “batters” his “sav”…

How to properly cook a sausage on the barbie:
Usually Aussies cook their sausages on the barbie, and the best way to cook them is slowly over a mild heat without piercing the skin.  For best results, poach the sausages in a pan of water {or beer} on a low, steadily simmering heat for about 30 minutes. Then, using tongs, put the sausages on the cold grill and set the barbie temperature to low heat.  Be sure to cook them thoroughly, and cook them evenly by turning them often.

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Throw another prawn on the barbie...

Barbie, barby, bbq, barbecue, grill or whatever you want to call it, just like Steve Irwin and Vegemite, the barbie is an Australian cultural icon. Everyone I have met in Australia so far owns a grill {or two}, with it being at least a portable grill to take camping or to the beach.

A few things Aussies normally cook on their gas or charcoal barbie:

· Prawns
· Snags or bangers {sausages}
· Chicken {skewers, etc.}
· Steak
· Kangaroo {seriously}

Different types of fish and seafood can be added to that list, and it seem there are always onions and other veggies cooking on the grill as well.  I’ve even seen Australia-shaped hamburger patties {as seen below}…

Bring your own plate: 

At some barbecues, they’ll ask that you bring your own plate. This means you should bring a prepared dish of food to share with the host and guests.  Bring your own meat, unless asked not to.  Also ask what you should bring otherwise as well, like if you should bring a picnic blanket or camping chairs for yourself and your family.


BYO means bring your own drink.  It’s OK to just bring your own drinks anyway, so load up your Esky {Aussie for “ice cooler”} with your favorite favourite drinks.

· If it’s beer you’re bringing, bring at least a 6-pack.
· If you bring your own beer, it’s OK to go home with your leftover beers.

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Australia-shaped hamburger patties...

What to wear:

The chances of a family spending Christmas in their cozzies {Aussie for “swimming suits”} by the grill at the pool or at the beach is highly likely in Australia, so barbecues are not always meant to be formal.   Unless it’s supposed to be a formal event, wear whatever the weather seems to permit. Of course, you can add a little bit of some Aussie humor humour by wearing a terry towelling {Aussies say this instead of “terry cloth”} hat and some zinc on your nose à la Super Dag

Here is what you should plan otherwise:

· Bring your cozzie {swimming suit} and a beach towel along, just in case there is a pool or if you’ll be at the beach.
· Be “SunSmart.” If you’re planning on being in the sun, be sure to wear a sun hat and bring enough sunscreen for you and your family to use.
· Wear your sunnies {Aussie for “sunglasses”}.
· Feel free to rock up {Aussie for “show up”} to the party in your thongs {Aussie for “flip-flops“} too.
· Or you could just show up barefoot

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Have a smoko in the morning and go to the servo in the arvo...

Aussies sometimes shorten words and names.  I figure reckon that their versions of these word and name diminutives seem to be like how they live — Relaxed. We do it in America too, but these are new forms of English words I’d never heard before so, at first, it was almost like learning a new language.

Here are just a few examples to get you started, but you can also check out my growing list of Aussie slang at this link for a few more.

Ends with o:

· Arvo — Aussie for “afternoon.” I remember my first experience with this word. I was reading an email from an Aussie, and when I read “arvo,” I thought to myself: They’ve made a typo…
· Bottle-o — Aussies call the liquor store either a bottle shop or a bottle-o.
· Salvos — The Salvation Army is known Down Under as “Salvos,” and even their website is called this {here}.
· Servo — Nickname given to petrol service stations by Aussies.
· Smoko — Morning break for workers, which used to mean a “smoking break,” but it’s also a tea-break.  I’ve even heard non-smokers call their morning break at work a “smoke-o.”   More about this here.

Note: Of course there are many more examples of this, but these listed above are some of the most common that I hear.


· Jono — If your name is John or Jonathan, chances are Aussies might give you the nickname “Jono.” It’s just a shorter version and a lot easier to say.
· Simmo — Same as above, if your name is Simon.

Note: This can work for last names too.  I know a guy whose last name is Bannister, and his mates call him “Bano.”

Ends with y or ie:

· Bikkie — Also “bickie,” Australians typically call a biscuit-style cookie a “bikkie.” However, if it’s a chocolate chip cookie, they will call it a cookie.  Read more about this here.
· Brekkie — Aussie for “breakfast.”  I’ve seen this spelled so many ways: breaky, brekkie, breakie, brekky, so take your pick.
· Pokies — What Aussies call the poker or gambling slot machines.
· Prezzy — Aussies often call a gift or present this.

Ends with a:

· Cuppa  — A hot beverage.
· Maccas  — This is an Aussie’s nickname for McDonald’s, America’s “Mickey D’s.”

Using each in example sentences:

· Jono talked with his wife over brekkie and a cuppa at Maccas today about the prezzy they wanted to buy for their son.
· That bloke {Aussie for a guy} at the bar was watching the horse races while his girl played the pokies.
· Simmo’s going to stop by the servo to pick up meat pies for our smoko.
· I’ll go to the bottle-o after work in the arvo to pick up a case of Tooheys Old and a bottle of bourbon.
· We’ll just go to Salvos to find something disco-themed to wear to Jacintha’s 40th, like we did for Kylie’s 80s hens night.
· When the neighbors neighbours visited, I served them bikkies with their tea.

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