Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Aussie Slang

I'm enjoying an aspect of Aussie culture that I missed completely in Switzerland because of the limitations of my German: local slang. Stumbling upon new slang in conversation is like an Easter egg hunt for language lovers like myself. You identify something interesting and brightly colored amongst the familiar surroundings, then pick it up and add it to your basket. A self consciousness emanating from my opinion that most Americans trying on Aussie slang sound lame and pretentious, prohibits me from fully adding the following linguistic treasures to my daily vocab, but some of these are just too much fun to resist:

"good for you" or "good job" (US) = "good on you" (AUS)

"how're you doing?" (US) = "how you going?" (AUS)
Sometimes using local slang involves changing only one word.

"knock yourself out" (US) = "go for your life" (AUS)
I never tell anyone to 'knock him/herself out' because it conjures images in my mind of a boxer literally punching himself in the face and this is a little unpleasant when all you wanted to do was give someone the go ahead. Telling someone to "go for your life," however, is much more positive and indicates that someone should feel totally free to do something. When I ask my manager if I can take a lunch break, she usually tells me to 'go for my life' and I always do.

"no worries"
We've all heard and used this one at some point. Mickey and I have coined a new, rather negative term based on the Aussie carefree spirit called "no worries time" or "NWT." When we call an agency or company with a request for service (such as phone or internet) and get a slow response, we often conclude that the organization in question is operating on no worries time. As an uptight person, I find the no worries mentality a little irritating. 'Start worrying,' I feel like telling them; I want my stuff fixed and I want it now. Can you tell I'm not a local? :)

"seppos" = Americans
See if you can follow this one: Americans are 'yankees' or 'yanks,' 'yank' rhymes with 'tank,' 'tank' goes with 'septic tank,' and because Aussies love to abbreviate everything, 'septic tank' is lovingly shortened to 'seppos.' I'm mystified by this name for folks like myself for more reasons than one, but mostly I want to know why 'tank' has to go with 'septic tank.' When I think about the word 'tank,' I think about an army tank and I'd much rather have a nickname that made us sound tough, not... septic. However, I guess the whole point of a nickname like this is to make fun of us a little, even though I've been assured that we need not get offended if called a seppo. Um, thanks?

Note - If you'd like to make up a cheeky nickname for Americans based on the above logic (i.e. 'and that rhymes with...'), I invite you do that here in the comments section.

Drop some letters, add an -ie ending or an -o to Aussify your favorite word and make it more cutesy/friendly:

bottle-o = abbreviated form of bottle shop, a store where one can buy alcohol, very important as alcohol of any type cannot be purchased in supermarkets
mozzies = mosquitoes (I'm dying to work this into a conversation. It's too adorable)

cozzies = ? I've been invited to a beach barbecue baby shower this weekend and the invitation requests that we 'bring our cozzies.' My best guess is that they mean cozy, comfortable clothes, but if everyone else shows up with their thong bikinis, or insulated coolers or extra long skewers for marshmallow roasting, our ignorance of the meaning of 'cozzies' will become apparent.

spesh = special (and not in the 'I learned from Grover on Sesame Street that everyone is spesh' way, but in a more 'pizza spesh Thursdays' kind of way

lucked out (US) = were lucky vs. lucked out (AUS) = were not lucky, literally you ran out of luck

Mickey's favorite:
budgie smugglers = Speedo-style men's bathing suit
This is one of those rare cases when the name is as comical as the real thing. A lot of people dis this more revealing swim-wear option for men, but I think if you've got the body, go for your life.