The Queen’s and other variations
Coming from an English-speaking country it is easy to assume that we may be understood without adjusting our language not only in the English-speaking world but further afield . One experience of talking to a deer in the headlights tourist will expose this as myth. Things as simple as something you wear on your feet (wait for it…), and the terminology for waste material to more deeply-entrenched nuances that influence how a sentence is formed are all examples of how this can change depending on where you go. So allow me the indulgence of sharing with you some of the examples I have come accross or heard of so far… N.B apologies to any New Zealanders, not wanting to unfairly claim or taint your slang I have labelled some terms as exclusively Australian but am aware that we share (or lend, ahem) much of our slang 🙂 I am also no authority on the slang of the North American continent so please forgive the absence of or any mistakes regarding their slang.
Australia- A perfectly acceptable form of footwear designed for easy exit and hot climates
The rest of the English world- a posterior-enhancing, (generally Female) form or underwear otherwise known as a G-String
Australia/North America and Canada – clothing for your lower body that isn’t a skirt (trousers in some dialects)
UK/Ireland- a larger form or vehicle designed for substantial transportation
North America/Australia- A word you hear on BBC programs referring to a truck
Australia- (following a moment’s confusion), “oh you mean like a road train with one carriage?”
UK/Ireland- the green spaces out the back of people’s houses, and larger public/private green spaces
Australia- A specific plot allocating for growing things, often flowers
Australia (maybe North America)- The open space attached to private homes (often containing one or more gardens)
UK/Ireland- potato-based, fried snacks (often flavoured) sold in sealed packets
Australia- potato-based, fried snacks (often flavoured) sold in sealed packets
UK/Ireland/Australia- Hot fried strips of potato, often served as a side with fried fish or steak N.B, never liking to be confused, Australians have added the prefix ‘hot’ to this variety to allow easy comprehension, i,e, ‘hot chips’.
Most of the English-speaking world- A drink that comes from fruit (if not 100 percent then at least as an extract)
Scotland/(sometimes Ireland)- Any non-alcoholic drink in a bottle or carton (usually for individual consumption)
North America/Canada- Soda/Soda pop
Australia-Soft drink/fizzy drink
North America and Canada- Liquor store
UK/Ireland- Off licence
Australia- Bottlo (Australian for bottle shop)
Most of the English speaking world- toilet, bathroom
North America- Restroom, John
UK/Ireland- Jax (casual, mostly used by males, more specifically those wearing double denim).
Australia- Dunny, out-house N.B Out-house only refers to externally placed/old fashioned toilets.
Most of the English-speaking world- Bum bags
North America-fanny packs
Small bundles/lists of miscellaneous purchasing (usually containing food items)
Scotland/Ireland- Messages (used mostly by women, particularly of a maternal variety)
Australia- those few things from the shops/ the shopping
North America and Canada- Groceries (the kind you expect to find in brown paper bags)
Someone who is lazy
Australia- bludger (pronounced bludga)
Scotland- Fanny N.B this may include someone who is doing something but is as useful (or less useful) in doing it as someone who is doing nothing.
Packaged sweet consumable goods
North America and Canada- Candy
Iced sweet consumable goods
Australia- Ice blocks
UK/Ireland- Ice lollies
Slang may or may not originate in the English Language (and in some cases definitely doesn’t)
Craic- A Gaelic word meaning party, fun, good times, used in English sentences to describe exactly that e.g, “that night out was great craic”.
Ken/Kairn/Kain- A word real Scottish people use as a substitute for the word know e.g, ” I Ken i’m a pain in the arse”.
Bougan/Bogan- An Australian term used to describe a particular typecast of individual, namely one with a mullet hair-cut, flannelette plaid shirt, king gee or short workman’s shorts, and a fairly dense cranium.
Yoke-An Irish (and occasionally British) term meaning ‘thing’ e.g “that yoke that boils the water”.
Caramel Macchiato -A certain coffee chain’s slang for Caramel latte (with cream and possibly other additives, take your own risks, just saying)
So there you have a small selection of the available gems that demonstrate language in action that may also be useful on your arrival somewhere. Stay tuned for a future article on how to ‘Australianise’ your English and any additions to this list are welcome as well.