If asked what my native language is I’d automatically respond – English. Lately I’ve realised that’s not entirely true. I speak Australian English. Yes there is such a thing and despite attending university in the UK and also working in several major American corporations over almost 20 years it seems you can take the Aussie out of Australia but maybe you just can’t shift the Aussie lingo (here I go already.. that means language to all you non Australian readers).
Do you speak Australian
I go out of my way to avoid certain cliches of Aussie speech – e.g. G’day Mate but still, the “Aussie” remains.
Earlier this week I described a situation to one of my clients as being “under the pump”. They are so polite they never bat an eyelid but I quickly realised that was an Australian expression. It means very busy. Sigh. Over the past few months I’ve introduced my new English friends and colleagues to quite a few phrases which I am sure they find baffling.
Some of my favourite Aussie expressions
“Do you think it’s ok to bush bash here?” – can we venture off the garden path onto grass
“I think we can get through this without any argey bargey” – I think we can resolve this without an argument
“Have a good one” – enjoy your day
“You don’t need to blow smoke up their arse” – it is not necessary to flatter them
Straight to the point
Another aspect of Australian speech that the Brits have some difficulty with is our famed directness. I mean, why beat about the bush (see..) when you can get straight to the point is the manner I’ve always found works best for me. It is really quite funny to watch people twitch when you tell them something they may not be used to hearing in a direct manner.
My favourite experience was giving feedback to a potential supplier that I was really disappointed with his proposal as it indicated he had not listened to our requirements. A typical English way of dealing with this scenario is to generate some polite rebuff or just completely fail to give feedback. The look on this person’s face was priceless accompanied by a spluttering apology.
That’s not to say I can’t learn something from the Brits – after all they invented the basis of our language. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more subtle in my approach at times and pare back my feedback to be less confronting. Meanwhile, my children and nephew who have all spent most of their lives in the UK are developing strong english accents (and hopefully a little of the tactful approach). I’m finding this quite disturbing but don’t worry they still say “mate”, “bickie” and “vegemite”.
For further inspiration and reading on the Australian vernacular, look to the master himself, former Prime Minister Paul Keating who I sorely miss. Some of his greatest lines can be heard here.
What’s your favourite Australian expression?