Thursday, 4 August 2011


Australians have the habit of shortening words or giving different names to things. Some words in the Australian English are influenced by some of the Aboriginal languages – like yakka (work) and  cooee (a call used by Aborigines in the bush).
Their way of speaking can also be a bit difficult to understand as many people tend to assimilate syllables and omit the consonants and speak with a nasal accent – like Paul Hogan in his Crocodile Dundee movies, which further complicates the non English speaker.
Shortly after we arrived in Perth, we attended a work function at my husband´s company. While waiting outside with some of his colleagues, one of them started telling a story about a “chook” that he had put in someone´s car and how that person was horrified at the mess the “chook” made. 
Everyone laughed and laughed, but we just stood there not having understood the joke at all, but not wanting to make fools of ourselves!
A few days later I had the opportunity of asking a friend what a chook was, and she said it was a chicken!! I would have never guessed!

Here is a "chook" restaurant in Perth

Here are some of the most used words in everyday language:

Arvo – afternoon  (I do have a pet hate about this word being used in the news, as I find proper English should be used!

Aussie – Australian

Bathers – swimming costume

Barbie – Barbecue    (Let´s have a barbie with some snags (sausages)
Brekkie – breakfast      (Brekkie, brickie and bikkie - are quite similar and confusing to me)
Brickie – brick layer
Bikkie – biscuit
Chrissie – Christmas
Ciggie – cigarette
Digger – originally a miner in the goldfields, now used to refer to an Australian soldier
Dunny – toilet or outhouse
Esky – insulated food/drink container for picnics (cooler box)
Garbo – a garbage man
Kindie – kindergarten, pre-school
Lippy – lipstick
Maccas – McDonald´s (hamburgers)
Mozzie – mosquito
Ocker – a lay about, casual no worries attitude to life
Pollie – politician
Postie – postman
Pressies -  presents
Pushie – bicycle, pushbike  
Rellies – relatives
Shout – to buy a round of drinks  -  Once I went out with 2 colleagues and one of them said "It´s my shout", and I asked her "what are you shouting about"?  That´s when she explained "she was buying the drinks".
Sickie – taking a day off being sick
Smoko –work break, even non-smokers have a smoko, to eat or have a coffee
Sparkie - electrician
Tea – evening meal  (dinner is the mid-day meal or lunch)  
Uey, uy  or  youee – to make a U-turn while driving
youse - plural you. “Why don’t youse come over for a cuppa this arvo.
And the list goes on and on!! It´s like learning a new language...
I certainly don´t use most of these words in my daily vocabulary but I have become familiar with them. I think when you speak a language that is not your mother tongue, you tend not to use the "strange" expressions that are native to that language, as somehow they just 
don´t sound as natural when spoken by a non-native.
Can you match some of these funny expressions?


  1. Great post!

    In the UK we have some cockney expressions - rhyming slang

    A ouple are..

    "Dog and bone" phone
    Apple and Pears" Stairs

  2. I love this! When we were planning to move, I looked up a list like this- and it was so helpful! The "youse" reminds me of how people in The Sopranos might say it!

  3. dialects are always fun to listen too everywhere you go thing are called something different lol

    nice post,

  4. Thanks Pip, Lovely Light and Mengler for your comments. We are always learning new things, that´s what makes life fun I suppose!

  5. Pollie - that´s new to me!
    Quite fitting, though, reminding me of pollen, to which heaps of peeps are allergic to...
    I asked what a brolly is, or an arvo, feeling quite stupid.
    Haha, shouting is new to me also!
    Most of them I know, though.

    1. You probably know more than I did when we moved to Australia, having visited so often.


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