It’s Australian, Mate!

Masqueradeby Nicole Flockton, author of Masquerade

If you’ve ever watched Animal Planet you would’ve seen the late great Steve Irwin and heard his catch phrase “Crikey” an awful lot. It’s not something I say often and to be honest, sometimes it embarrassed me the way he was so “ocker” (Australian). I often thought to myself “Do I really sound like that?”

But apart from “Crikey” there are a lot of other terms that are absolutely automatic for Australians but leave a lot of my US friends scratching their heads when I put them up on Facebook or Twitter.

So I’m going to give you a little “Australian Term” lesson.

The first word I’m going tell you about is “Chuffed.” The first time I put that up on my facebook status I had a few people say – “Pardon what does that mean?” Well, “Chuffed” is a word adopted from the Brits and it means I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. “I’m chuffed I finished my novel before deadline.” So now you can confuse your work colleagues by using that term.

Another one is “Snaggers.” “Snaggers” are sausages and come rain, hail or shine, in Australia it’s never bad weather to have a barbeque. In the US the term is grilling. I remember when we first arrived in Houston in August 2009, we went shopping for some BBQ utensils, we were surprised when the sales associate at Target advised us that it was out of season so she wasn’t sure if we’d be able to get any. My husband and I looked at each in amazement – as I said, we barbeque year round in Australia. The blokes will go outside and drink beer in the freezing wind or rain or blazing sun and cook the meat, while the girls will be drinking wine inside where it’s nice and warm or nice and cool.

Another term I once used was “Chook.” My status was “I’ve got a cooked chook for dinner tonight, now to make the salad.” People were asking – “Ehat the heck is a chook?” Chook means chicken. It is sometimes used as an affectionate term as well; my uncle calls his daughter “Chook” all the time.

Most recently I tweeted this: “So there’s this lady at the petrol station that pulled up in front of a bowser and hasn’t got out to fill her car–she’s just sitting there.” Well, I got many a question. Back in Australia we call it a “petrol station” not “gas station” and “bowser” not “pump” – or maybe we do call it a pump but I’ve always called it a “bowser”. I had a good laugh over this.

So while we may both be English-speaking countries there are many different turns of phrases. For an Australian writing to a US market, there is a lot of thinking that goes into making sure the phrases we use, which are automatic for us, can be understood by our readers. But if there is something that confuses you, just ask us, we love sharing our unique Aussieisms with the world!

3 thoughts on “It’s Australian, Mate!

  1. Ashlyn

    I absolutely love your post. Very funny yet informative at the same time. I can see how being an Australian (or any nationality) would make writing for a US market challenging. English is a second language for me and I get phrases mixed up all the time. I just laugh it off and continue on. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Becky Lower

    I’m chuffed that you only tripped me up on one–snaggers. The rest I knew. Partly from Steve Irwin, and partly because a good friend spent two years in your great country. I still regret not beg, borrowing or stealing the airfare to get over there to see her.