Storm In A B-Cup

Crikey! Is Australian Slang All It’s Made Out To Be?

on April 30, 2013

Crikey mate!

Better chuck some prawns on the barbie.

Strewth!

Gotta run down to maccas this arvo, it’s on the main drag in town.

Dead set, my car’s just carked it!

I haven’t seen you in yonks!

Australian slang is a strange beast.  As everywhere, slang varies from place to place, state to state, even town to town.  But one thing I think most of us Australians agree on is that Australian slang is grossly misrepresented in the media, especially overseas.  Just as we don’t ride our kangaroos down the street and into town, or have pet koalas in the back yard, very few of us actually speak the way Aussies are portrayed in the movies.  Our slang is unique, and yes, more often than not sounds pretty…bogan-y (and yes, bogan is an Australian slang term that probably most closely relates to the American “hillbilly” – someone who is a bit backwards, a bit uncouth and usually from somewhere off the beaten track).  The same as any other culture, our slang is just that – slang.  Unlike what you may see onscreen or read in books, the entirety of Australian language isn’t made up of this odd sounding gibberish, and many of us are actually quite well spoken!

Not, of course, that I assume that most of you reading this think this way.  I suppose this is just a rant because I get so frustrated with the representation that I see of my country mostly on screen.  We tend to be presented as uncouth, loud, usually unclean looking people who are uneducated and can’t express ourselves without swearing.  This is what I take objection to.  I can, and do, throw out some slang with the best of them, but I like to think I’m well spoken, polite and well presented.  I perform a lot, and am often asked to make presentations.  And most people I know are much the same.  They are well spoken, well presented and most wouldn’t speak the kind of sentence in daily conversation that someone from another English speaking country would need a thesaurus to translate.

Our accents, for the most part are definitely not of the variety that Steve Irwin used, broad twang and half of each word’s syllables dropped for convenience.  In fact I can personally attest to the fact that most of the international visitors I have spoken to do not believe that I am Australian through and through.  Because I don’t have that “broad” accent that is almost not understandable.  I often have to work hard to convince people that I was born in Sydney and not in some European country or the UK.  And why?  Because I take pride in being well spoken.  I like to enunciate.  I like full words, and consonants, and good English.  And I am not in the minority.

So why are we represented the way we are? As though we’re all from the Outback, the middle of nowhere? Sure, some Australians really are like that.  But they are definitely not the majority.  I feel as though we are represented by that minority perhaps because this minority, though a minority, is what makes the impact on people.  Because the “stereotypical” Australian is so different from anyone else, this is the Australian we see on TV and in the movies, and in books.  And everywhere.  Because it is novel and it is different and it is interesting.  And maybe, just maybe, that’s ok.

Thanks for visiting!

Nat xx

ps…yes, there are wild kangaroos over the back fence and wombats are a REAL problem.  They break into our yard, ruin the fence, give the dogs a spot to escape and eat the plants.  And I had to stop the car to let an echidna cross the road the other day.  There’s my little dose of “true blue Aussie”

This post is in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: A Manner Of Speaking

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4 responses to “Crikey! Is Australian Slang All It’s Made Out To Be?

  1. […] it!  If it reaches one person, I’m more than happy.  Stoked, even (if I may borrow from my Aussie Slang post).  It’s a little surreal to sit here at my laptop writing, and then to publish it and […]

  2. […] Crikey! Is Australian Slang All It’s Made Out To Be? | Storm In A B-Cup […]

  3. […] Crikey! Is Australian Slang All It’s Made Out To Be? | Storm In A B-Cup […]

  4. […] Crikey! Is Australian Slang All It’s Made Out To Be? | Storm In A B-Cup […]

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