“G’day mate! For brekky, I’m having avo on toast before grabbing my bathers and heading down to Cott for a dip. Then this arvo, a mate and I will chuck some spuds and snags on the barbie.”
How much of that did you understand?
Much like in other countries, Australians have taken our native language (English) and turned it into… something else! In Australia, we speak what is commonly known as ‘Australian English’.
Involving a great deal of abbreviation, colloquialisms and slang, it may seem a little rough around the edges, but with a little practice, you too could sound like a true blue Aussie!
We’ve put together a list of some common Australian words and phrases to help you along.
By the way, in case you are wondering - here is the translation of the first sentence: “Hi friend! For breakfast, I’m having avocado on toast before grabbing my swimmers and going to Cottesloe Beach for a swim. Then this afternoon, a friend and I will cook some potatoes and sausages on the barbeque.”
When in doubt, shorter is better
There are many common words that are shortened in Australia. Here are some common examples in addition to those used above:
- Australia = Straya
- Cup of tea = Cuppa
- Biscuit = Bikkie
- McDonald’s (fast food restaurant) = Macca’s
- Mosquito = Mozzie
- University = Uni
- Football = Footy
- Sunglasses = Sunnies
Of course, a notable example of when we Australians turn something short and into something long is when we talk about the legendary rock group ACDC – in which case we say Accadacca!
Throw an ‘o’ on it
In addition to shortening our words, Australians also often tend to put an ‘o’ on the end of their words. Here are some common examples in addition to those used above:
- Service station (or gas station) = Servo
- Bottle shop (or liquor store) = Bottle-o
- Quick cigarette or snack break = Smoko
- Angry = Aggro
- Devastated = Devo
A similar concept to adding an ‘o’ to the end is adding ‘as’ to the end of and adjective. It basically means ‘very’ and is used frequently in Australian English.
- Happy as = Very happy
- Tired as = Very tired
- Annoying as = Very annoying
Now you’ve got the hang of shortening your words and adding an ‘o’ (or ‘as’), how about learning how best to use some other common phrases?
- Yeah, nah = No (“Did you enjoy the show?” “Yeah, nah. It was boring.”)
- Nah, yeah = Yes (“Did you enjoy the show?” “Nah, yeah. It was great.”)
- Keen = Excited (“I’m super keen for that new restaurant to open.”)
- Ute = Utility vehicle (“Those bags can go in the ute.”)
- No worries = Don’t worry/It’s fine (“You don’t have that book? No worries.”)
- Rip off = When something is overly expensive (“That drink was a rip off.”)
- Chuck a sickie = Take a day off work or school without necessarily being sick (“Ben’s chucking a sickie today.”)
- Chuck a U-ey = Make a U-turn in a vehicle (“Chuck a U-ey at that sign.”)
- … hey? = Used at the end of a sentence to ask if someone agrees with what you are saying (“You’re coming out tonight, hey?”)
- BYO (Bring Your Own) = When you can bring your own drinks or food when going out (“Is this restaurant BYO?”)
- Grog = Alcohol (“I need to go to the bottle-o and get some grog.”)
- Esky = Insulated food and drink container like a cooler bag or box (“Can you please put these drinks in the esky?”)
- Thongs = Flip flops (“The ground is too hot, I need to wear my thongs.”)
We could go on! But these common words and phrases should help you better understand what Australians are talking about during your first few weeks.
Before you go, here is another example of Australian English for you!
“My manager is annoying as, so I’m chucking a sickie and going for a picnic at King’s Park. Want to come?”
“Nah, yeah! I’ll bring an esky and footy. You just BYO food, grog and mozzie repellant.”
“No worries. Keen!”
What is your favourite Australian phrase? Tell us by tagging us on social media (@studyperth)!