“Excuse me, do you know where the baking soda is?” The store clerk looked puzzled for a second, but then looked at me, chuckled to himself and said, “Ah, yes. Do you mean bicarbonate soda?”
Turns out that there are quite a few differences between American English and Australian English, or at least enough differences to catch you off guard every once in a while.
Slang words and dialects are what differentiate regions and countries that use the same language. The English language is widely used throughout the world and is the official language of more than 50 countries. Every country and region that uses the English language sounds at least slightly different.
As for English in Australia, it is unique and varies throughout the country. It seems to have more similarities with English in the UK than English in the United States. Moreover, Australians love to abbreviate words.
I’ve been in Australia for about 2 months now and still get confused by certain words and phrases. So, here’s a list of the top ten words and phrases used Australia that I hear in conversation almost daily.
- Uni – “Are you a uni student?” Uni is short for university. Don’t get caught using the word college, because that is the word Australians use when talking about high school.
- I Reckon – “It’s been about 30 minutes, I reckon.” I reckon is used in place of the phrase I think. I actually haven’t heard anyone use the phrase I think.
- Heaps – “Thanks heaps!” Heaps means a lot.
- Rubbish – “Those food scraps are rubbish.” Rubbish is another way of saying trash. Trash and garbage are used from time to time, but rubbish is more common. All trash bins are labeled with the word rubbish.
- Biscuit – “Oreos are my favorite biscuit.” As you can guess, biscuit means cookie. Oh and Oreos used to be my favorite biscuit, until I came across Tim Tams here in Aussie.
- Aussie/Oz – “Have you spent much time in Aussie?” Australia is more commonly known as Aussie or Oz to the locals. Here in the state of Tasmania, locals say Tassie instead of Tasmania. Note: the “s” sounds like a “z”, hence why Oz is common.
- G’day – “G’day, mate!” G’day is used as a greeting in place of other words, like Hey! Howdy! Hello!
- Macca’s – “Let’s get a Big Mac from Maccas.” McDonald’s? Mickey D’s? Nope. They call it Macca’s here.
- Jumper – “It’s going to be cold today, don’t forget your jumper.” Jumper is used in place of the word sweatshirt or sweater. More recently, I’ve actually heard the word jumper used to describe a person’s jacket, as well.
- Arvo – “Let’s meet up at uni on Monday arvo.” Arvo is commonly used in place of the word afternoon. I had no idea what this word meant the first time someone said this to me.
There are heaps more words and phrases that I’ve come across in Aussie and there are even more that I haven’t encountered. Thus, I will continue to thumb through my Australian Slang book for the remainder of my time here.