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How to speak Australian

by Caroline Seawright


Want to speak Australian?

Here's a few quick words, and their correct pronunciation.

Aussie - OZ-ee
Australia - OZ-trayl-ya
Sydney - SID-knee
Melbourne - MEL-b'n
Brisbane - BRIS-b'n

No-one I know speaks like Crocodile Dundee, either... so words that I'd avoid, unless you know how to use them (and can get away with it!):

G'day, mate, sheila, bloke...

Anything to do with a shrimp (or prawn) on the barbie! (People have shrimps on the BBQ?! Since when?!)

Actually, avoid using any Australian "slang" you've ever heard of. It most likely won't be used where you are - how embarrassing would it be to be found using Queenslander slang in Tasmania, or country slang in the city?!

The Australian words that I'd suggest picking up are words for common items that you might want to buy. (For examples, I'm using the US words, as they tend to be the most different from Australian English words.)

You will get french fries if you ask for them at McDonald's (Maccas), but if you go into any non-US-owned shop, you'd be asking for 'chips'.

And if you want that sweet, strawberry flavoured stuff on your toast in the morning, you ask for 'jam' (even if you want it with peanut butter!) Jelly, in Australia, is the wobbly stuff that you eat with ice-cream or cream.

If you ask for food 'to go' and the people behind the counter look at you strangely, try asking for 'take away'.

Listen to the people around you, and when you think you'll be right (you'll be okay), attempt to talk like them.

You might be laughed at for a while (it's highly amusing, trying to teach people to talk like you - I've tried it many times when I've been in the US! "No, I don't come from mel-BORN. I come from MEL-b'n!" "What?" "MEL-b'n!") but your efforts will be appreciated.

© Caroline 'Kunoichi' Seawright 2000 - present

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