Australian Oddities

DISCLAIMER: sorry y’all but this post contains no pictures.  Read on to see why:

The title kind of speaks for itself.  Australia is often compared to England and America, and it is very much like the two in many ways, however there are certain things that are uniquely Australian, and make it fun, interesting, and very confusing to live in.

I figured I’d publish this “Australian Oddities” as a series – mainly because there’s just too much for one post, and let’s face it, who wants to read things on a photoblog anyway? But also because I’m sure I’ll discover more Australian Oddities throughout my time here.

Ok enough babble: let’s first start with the language which you can’t really put a picture to, hence no pictures. We’re supposed to be speaking the same language, right?  Americans and the Australians?  We both speak English, right?  Well, read the following paragraph:

8:00 am – you wake up and grab some brekkie and a flat white, hopefully not bikkies, but you’re a guy at uni so nutrition isn’t exactly a high priority.  You grab your jumper and books then head out to class.  For lunch, you decide to go to Mackers but your mates convince you to join them at the UniBar for some grog and chips with sauce.  Stay away from the burgers, else you’ll be in the loo all arvo.   Around 6, you’re off to footy, swatting mozzies as you head to the field.  Afterwards, you dream about tea all the way home – hopefully you have some chops in the freezer but it might just have to be capsicum salads and soup in a box.

If you understood everything above, you can stop reading now and wait for the next post.

Australians speak a very different and completely foreign tongue called English.  Australian English, that is.  We all have heard the accent from Crocodile Dundee and Outback Steakhouse commercials, however real Australians speak about 7million mph faster.  That’s hard enough to understand and that’s not even considering Australian slang.  Australian English likes to a. slur every word in the sentence together and b. shorten words.  Yes, the Australians are the champions of “abbrev lang” (aka abbreviated language): breakfast becomes “brekkie,” McDonalds becomes “Mackers,” university is “uni,” afternoon is “arvo,” biscuits (which are not bread – I’ll get to that later) becomes “bikkies,” and so on.

In addition to the abbreviations and their rate of speech, they have a whole slew of vocabulary terms that are similar to American English, but mean completely different things.  For instance, I walk into the “How to Enrol in Classes” tutorial during International Student Orientation and they tell me that to figure out which classes I want to take, I will need a sheet of paper, a pencil and a rubber.  I was shocked and slightly confused until the “Aussie Cultures” tutorial clarified that rubber in Australia means eraser…

In the rubber category fall jumper, which means sweatshirt, sauce, short for tomato sauce which means ketchup (the tomato sauce we’re used to in the US is known as tomato puree), chips are French fries, and biscuits are cookies.  Peppers are called capsicum and tea is not the “British tea,” for which we envision tea in china cups with cakes and other little tea sandwiches; tea just means dinner.

We’re used to a lot of coffee options in the US, just walk into a Starbucks and you’ll be lost in a sea of macchiatos, espressos, mochas, frappuccinos, lattes, and on and on.  Most, if not all of those, however, are Americanized versions of the kind of coffee you’d find at an espresso bar in Italy, which is the trend across America and elsewhere.  The Australians decided to make coffee ordering difficult.  Most of the drinks are espresso drinks, so you can get a cappuccino, espresso, macchiato.  Ask for a “regular coffee” however, thinking you’ll get normal, black, coffee and you’ll get something called a flat white which is half coffee, half steamed milk.  They have long black, which is the closest thing to a “black” cup of coffee you’ll find – it’s essentially espresso grounds with water poured over top.  And they have short black, which I haven’t tried but sounds weird.  There is no brewed coffee.  It just doesn’t exist.  You can’t even find a conventional brewed coffee maker in any of the stores.

That’s about it on the language topic for now, although I’m sure I’ll find out more – maybe then I’ll have a picture to go with it!

About the pictures, there will be PLENTY coming your way because I took about 890 pictures on Kangaroo Island this past weekend.

n.b. – they actually do say “g’day mate!”


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