When the recently deposed South Australian Premier referred to our Federal politicians as ‘knuckle draggers’ and an electricity generator as having ‘shat itself’ on television a few weeks ago, I thought it maybe worth a look at our own Australian version of English.
The Australian vernacular is peppered with some peculiar expressions. When a nation is forged from the meeting of the world’s oldest surviving culture with a bunch of convict outcasts from an over-populated society, well things can only get interesting. Throw in two centuries of refugees and opportunists from another hundred or so countries and you’ll find not only Cockney rhyming slang mixed with Dreamtime but poetry sitting side by side with curses. In no particular order here are a few that spring to mind:
Knuckle Dragger – Neanderthal
Rat’s Coffins, Dog’s Eye and Dead Horse – Sausage Rolls, Meat Pie and Tomato Sauce
Stone the Crows – Well I’ll be buggered!
Well I’ll be buggered – I’m surprised
I’ll be buttered on both sides – I’m surprised
Strewth – expression of surprise a shortened version of ‘God’s truth’. Pretty much the same as Bloody Hell!
Geez – expression of surprise, shortened form of ‘Jesus’.
Flake and Chips – Fish and Chips Victorian style, always shark
Flake – cooked shark
Scallops – in the southern states a shellfish, in the northern states a battered slice of potato (always cause for much hilarity when distant families get together)
Barra – Barramundi, a particularly good northern fish
Parma or Parmie or Schnitz (the name changes as you go north or west) – Parmagiana (a flattened and crumbed piece of chook smothered in a tomato sauce, topped with a slice of ham and melted cheese. Basically an Aussie corruption of an Italian veal classic.
Chook – chicken
Sangas – sandwiches
Sambos – sandwiches
Lambo sambo – cold lamb sandwich (no, I’m not being politically incorrect)
Thongs – flip flops, jandals (NZ)
Cozzie – bathing suit in some states
Swimmers – bathing suit in other states
Bathers – bathing suit in Victoria
Ports – suitcases in NSW, a corruption of the French portmanteau.
Ratbag – a bit of a character and sometimes a little rough around the edges, although quite a few politicians are called ratbags
Larrikin – also a bit of a character
Bastard – for most blokes this is a term of endearment. “You’re a funny bastard” which probably means “Geez, I love ya mate”.
Bloke – Man
Sheila – Woman
Missus – Wife, stems from Cockney ‘Cheese and Kisses’ = Missus
Derro – as in derelict, homeless person
Whiz Bang – Small motorhome with a sliding door that makes a whizzzzz bang! sound in the middle of the night
Now you’re cooking with gas – when someone finally gets something right. From an ad campaign for natural gas
Possie – position, as in ‘oh, we’ve got a good possie’.
Utes – utility or pick up truck, popular with young blokes
Not Happy Jan – disappointed, in fact bloody annoyed, stems from a TV commercial
(it’s a ) Joke Joyce – originates from a TV skit
Not the full quid, kangaroo short in the top paddock, sausage short on the barbie – someone seemingly with a mental deficiency. As in “Geez, he’s a sausage short on the barbie, that one”.
Barbie – BBQ
Thunderbox – outside unsewered toilet
Dunny – toilet
Full as a goog – drunk as a skunk
Dagging around – messing around.
Dag – is a small ball of poo on a sheep’s bum. The reason why sheep need to have their bum’s shorn (crutched) regularly in this country, a little inconvenience is better than a fly blown bum (Eeww). Hence ‘dag’ is a good humoured expression. A cheerful wag is a bit of a dag. “Blimey, he’s a dag”
Wag – a funny character
Blimey – expression of surprise, eg: blimey, that was a close shave.
Ripper – great!