Australian for beginners (aka “Don’t all Australians speak English?”)

You’re probably scratching your head, thinking, “What does she mean by Australian? Is she referring those who live in Australia or Australian, as in a language?” After another considered pause, you might be thinking, “But don’t all Australians speak English?

Ha. That’s the million dollar question for today, isn’t it? Do Australians speak English or do they in fact speak a language that sounds a lot like English but is not English? If you are Australian-born, you probably don’t realise that the tourists don’t understand you – in particular, those from Asia. Even if they can get pass the broad vowels, they sure as hell don’t get the abbreviations; for example: arvo for afternoon, servo for gas service station, chockers for any situation involving a huge number of something. As in, “It was chockers in the supermarket next to the servo this arvo…”

Did you get that?

When I pointed out the mom and pop run convenience store across from my place to HRH’s newly arrived family, here for the week on a tourist visa, they were utterly bewildered to learn that it didn’t serve alcohol. Why? Because I said, “That’s a milk bar.”

To most Asians, anything with the word “bar” in it serves beers and cocktails. I was about to say shooters, pre-mixes, stubbies and vino but realised that whole mouthful would be as perplexing to the typical Asian reader as the phrase “milk” (for babies) “bar” (for adults).

We also have “uni bars” on most university campuses too; which actually serve alcohol, which I allowed my parents to discover for themselves, lest they worry about my prior commitment to hit the books, on the day of my brother’s graduation, a decade ago.

In addition to the milk bar, my street also has a “Laundrobar” – no, no alcohol here – also fondly known as a “wash house.” Why? I’ve absolutely no idea, except that you should bring a king’s ransom in $1 coins to use the machines. Some wash houses have crude but serviceable coin machines, giving you the much needed gold rounds in exchange for your notes, however some, like the one along my street, only has a soap powder dispenser.

We also have noodle bars, sushi bars, all sort of bars that have nothing to do with drinking. If male, you probably should also learn the difference between a “broad” and a “sheila” before stepping into any of these places, especially in you are intent on snagging (chatting up) someone. A sheila might look like those thong-wearing women you see on postcards, whilst a broad might look like the mother of those thong-wearing women. They both refer to women obviously, just different sorts of women.

And they said Asian languages are hard to learn.

To your relief, you may also be pleased to know that Horse Sauce, which goes wonderfully with meat pies, has no horse in it, just tomatoes and loads of sugar. Same goes for “Bangers and Mash”, a favourite of all little people (children, not midgets) right around Australia, which is code for Sausages and Mash Potatoes. We’re also very fond of our Sausage Sizzle here, a stall set up to raise funds for whomsoever the stall owner says they are raising funds for, almost always selling freshly cooked beef sausages served on white bread with an optional serving of blackened onions.

For more info on the Aussie slang or “Australian language” as I think it should be called, do check out this link. You’ll be chuffed (pleased) to find that Bastard is actually a term of endearment over here so when someone calls you a Bastard, simply smile and say, “Yes love?” Meaning, “How can I help you?”

Until my next post, here’s a big smooch (kiss) from this banana bender…