When I arrived in Straya (Australia) I thought my English was not too bad since I’d been travelling for almost a year and I was always able to communicate and understand people. I came to Australia with the main purpose of working and shortly after my arrival I scored a bar attendant job in a very small country town in the northwest of Western Australia.
The bar manager picked me up from the airport and the first sentence he said was “G’day mate. How ya goin, alright?”
I was kind of surprised because he called me mate and it sounded more like greeting a man than a woman. Soon I learned it is common to say mate — even to women.
The ride from the airport to the town was quite interesting. My new boss had the strongest Australian accent I’d ever heard and I had to ask so many times if he can repeat what he just said. It was quite embarrassing for me but he had a lot of fun 🙂
In the evening of my first night I went to the pub (as a customer). The bartender asked me “What ya after?” I must have had a big question mark written on my face since everyone around me started laughing. The girl next to me translated and told me it means what I would like to order.
I asked if they have vegetarian food and the guy behind the bar said “Veggies and chippies” which means vegetables and hot chips (French fries).
He asked if I want a middy of beer and again I had no clue what he was asking. A middy is a small glass of beer in Western Australia whereas it is called a pot in Victoria.
While I was waiting for my food a guy next to me got his dinner served and said “Tar” to the waitress. I was curious and asked him what he just said. He explained that “Tar or ta” is like saying “thank you”.
After all the travelling and learning I got really tired and told my new manager that I would need a bed. He said, “You wanna bail already? Hang on, I’ll give ya a lift in a minute” (You want to leave already? Wait a minute I’ll give you a ride). Of course I didn’t understand and had to ask for a ‘translation’.
The following day was my first working day and I was really nervous. Would I understand our customers? And what if I get an order wrong? Well, since almost everyone in this town had a really strong accent it happened a few times.
Lucky me most of the Australians are laid back and it was never a big deal 🙂 In the restaurant downstairs I saw a sign that said B.Y.O. I’d never seen this sign before so I asked what it means. It stands for ‘bring your own’. If you see it in a restaurant it means you can bring your own alcohol and consume it in the restaurant. For me, as a German, that was something completely new.
As I mentioned it was a very small town and the community was like a big family. They always did things together where I got invited to.
One day a lady came to me and said: “Hey darl, we’re having a barbie this arvo on the beach and watching footie later on. Bring an esky with some stubbies, your bathers and some bangers for the barbie. The kiwi fella can come too. And don’t forget to put on repellent, there are heaps of mozzies around”.
I felt like I was in a non-English speaking country, so many words in one sentence I didn’t know.
Here is the translation: “Hey darling, we’re having a BBQ at the beach and watching Australian football later on. Bring an icebox/cooler with some bottles of beer, your swimsuit and some sausages for the BBQ. Your colleague from New Zealand can come too. And don’t forget to put on repellent, there are many mosquitoes around.”
I could write endless stories about my experience with the Aussie slang. You should have realised by now that Australians love to shorten words and put an ‘ie’ at the end. Following a few more words that I hear quite often and might help you to get by:
To bail – leave, disappear
Beanie – woollen cap or hat
Bloke – guy
Bloody oath – that’s certainly true
Bottle shop – a shop where you can buy alcohol (you cannot buy alcohol in the supermarket)
Booze – alcohol
Brekkie – breakfast
Brizzie – Brisbane
Chrissie – Christmas
To crash – go to sleep (usually at someone else’s place)
Cuppa – a cup of tea/coffee
Good on ya mate – well done, congratulations
Hair of the dog – alcoholic drink taken to relieve a hangover
Lippie – lipstick
Lollies – sweets, candies
Macca’s – McDonald’s
Mate’s rate – discount
Milk bar – a local shop selling take-away food and other convenience food
Mucking around – playing around with no real purpose
No worries – easy, no problem, it’s ok
Off one’s face – to be very drunk
Old man – father
Push bike – bicycle
Rego – vehicle car registration
Rubbish (verb) – to criticise (that’s rubbish – that’s not good)
Servo – petrol station
Shout – your turn to buy or purchase a round of drinks (it’s your shout)
Pull a sickie – day off work with pay because of pretended illness
Sook – cry baby
Spag bol – spaghetti bolognese
Sparky – electrician
Station – not a railway station but a big farm
Stoked – happy, pleased
Stuffed – tired, worn out
Sunnies – sunglasses
Tea – dinner
Thongs – flip flops
Tomato sauce – ketchup
Torch – flashlight
Vejjo – vegetarian
Will be all right – it will eventually be ok
Share some of the Aussie slang you’ve come across too, I’d love to hear them and keep learning!