I think it was George Bernard Shaw who once said that America and Britain were “Two countries separated by a common language”. I’ve lived in Australia a while, and the same can be said about America and Australia. Though I must say that I’ve learned to enjoy and even use some of the Aussie terms.
You can find translation lists all over the internet, so here I’ll just give you a few of my favorite terms and why. I’ll even throw in a few other Aussie terms in examples for you to figure out.
- Meant – This is used in the way that Americans use “supposed”. It’s the first thing I noticed my kids picking up – as in “Dad, you’re meant to put out the rubbish bins on Sunday arvo”.
- Heaps – This is used like “a lot”. It just sounds great when you use it – like “we had heaps of fun at the beach today”.
- Mate – To me, this is the quintessential Aussie term. It is basically the Australian equivalent of “dude” or “friend”, as in “Johnno is my best mate”, or “Mate, you are too pissed, leave the pub”. Much like Americans use Dude, Aussies use Mate when they don’t know or forget someone’s name. Most importantly, it sounds really stupid when an American uses it. Something about our accents I think. Stick with dude and friend!
- How Ya Going – another one that sounds a bit odd when we Americans say it, but the equivalent of “how are you”. My advice, just stick with the latter, though I love when Aussies ask how I am going – and while answering “great” or whatever, my mind often thinks “um, by car (boat, train, plane, whatever…)”
- Tradies – I just love this term. It basically covers all the different tradesmen there are. Electricians, postal workers, construction workers, fireman, etc. And they all drive utes (an Aussie truck, sort of). And to top it all off, most have super cool nicknames like sparkies, firies, posties, chippies, coppers, etc. Pity the plumbers, who are often known as the “poo-man”.
- Rocking Up – equivalent to showing up, but oh so much cooler. “Did you see the ute that sparky rocked up in? It’s a cracker!”
- Sweet As – technically I think this one originates in New Zealand. But so many Americans think New Zealand is part of Australia I figured I’d include it! Think of it as the equivalent of awesome, as in “that ute the sparky had in #6 is sweet as!”
- This one is really a trifecta of words that have such different meanings in the 2 countries that you need to think before using them. Root. Fanny. Rubber. Respectively each in Australia/America are: Having sex/cheering. A womans vagina/a persons butt. An eraser/a condom. So when you “root, root, root for the home team”, or compliment anyone on their fanny, or ask a teacher for a rubber, think about what country you are in first!
- Complaining or whining is a worldwide phenomenon, but calling it whinging is so much cooler. Of course, then you can’t use the ultra bothersome parenting phrase of “would you like some cheese with that whine” when your kids are whinging at you for stopping at the petrol station.
- Stuffed up. Lets face it – mistakes are worldwide also. But it just sounds so much better when you “stuffed up”, as in “I stuffed up and forgot to buy a prezzy for my Mrs. for Chrissy”
- Have a go/Good on ya. Essentially, give it a try and good for you. So, study up on your Aussie terms, have a go using them when you are down under, and good on ya for reading this far!