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Favourite Sayings from Urban Aussie Language

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by Susan J Bowes (subscribe)
Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published June 21st 2020
Speak a different language? Talk slang
When interacting with people in the city, I notice more of the older folk recognise phrases than the younger generation, who seem to have invented another kind of language of their own. A lot of our older phrases were handed down from generation to generation. That is how language evolves and then new words are added to dictionaries.

1925 Edition of the New Universities Dictionary, a must for my bookcase (Author's photo)

From research, it appears Cockney or Rhyming Slang was developed to confuse people from different villages, perhaps to maintain a sense of community, but more likely to allow vendors in the marketplace to talk amongst themselves without customers or police officers, if they are doing something dodgy, knowing what they are saying. Many Australians have English ancestors and therefore, the slang was brought across the seas when people migrated here.

Meaning of the word Slang in a 1925 Dictionary (Author's photo)

When using rhyming slang, you replace a common word with a phrase or a couple of words, which rhymes with the original word, however, sometimes the rhyming word is left completely off the phrase to confuse you even more. An example "mince pies", which means "eyes" but the phrase ends up being said as "mincers". A favourite of mine, "hit the frog and toad" toad meaning road. Some others that you may know are following.

Apples and Pears meaning stairs, the word used is "Apples"
Plates of Meat meaning feet, the word used is "Plates"
Trouble & Strife meaning wife, the word used "Trouble"

Language, Self Improvement, Learn Something, Brisbane, Books & Writing, Misc
Hit The Frog & Toad, Hit The Road, Let's Get Going (Author's Photo)

I am sure many of you use slang without even knowing and it has been made even more popular by Actor Ray Meagher from Home & Away using phrases like "Stone the crows" or words like "Blimey". "Okey Dokey" is another common phrase that can mean OK or that the conversation has made you want to change the subject. Before the days of SMS, the letter "K" was used as a Morse code prosign for "Go ahead"; "K" now being used as a short form of "OK".

Language, Self Improvement, Learn Something, Brisbane, Books & Writing, Misc
K, now acceptable for OK in an SMS (Author's Photo)

Urban Dictionary was founded by Aaron Peckham in 1999 and is an online dictionary defining slang words and phrases in a descriptive way. The words were never intended to be used in other dictionaries, however, grown with popularity, words are now used worldwide in advertising, speeches and even courtrooms.

Anyone coming to Australia from another country and has studied the Queen's English in his or her own country and is well aware of the difference between "their and there", "practice and practise", "whether and weather", "none is, not none are", "different from, not different to", yet these are words and phrases even Australians can mix up. The 1966 movie They're a Weird Mob sums up the confusion foreigners can stumble across when Australian slang is used.

Language, Self Improvement, Learn Something, Brisbane, Books & Writing, Misc
Out Woop Woop, Where? (Author's Photo)

The following are some examples of Australian slang that I am sure you have heard -

Aussie Salute Wave to scare the flies
Fair Dinkum 'Fair Dinkum?' 'Fair Dinkum!' = Honestly? Yeah honestly!
Durry Cigarette
G'day Hello
Hard Yakka Hard work
Legless Someone who is really drunk
No Wuckas A truly Aussie way to say 'no worries
Strewth An exclamation of surprise
Flip Flops - Thongs
Woop Woop middle of nowhere "he lives out woop woop"
Treadlie - Bike
Rellie / Rello Relatives

Language, Self Improvement, Learn Something, Brisbane, Books & Writing, Misc
Hard Yakka, when men worked on heavy machinery for little money (Author's Photo)

A person from rural Australian may say,

"Hey cobber did you hear that old mate up the road headed down to the big smoke (Brisvegas) on the tilt the other day to have his water works looked at, he recon's that they all drive on the roads like the devil is after them and the place is like an ants nest, they migrate out to work in the morning and migrate back home at night".

So, when you are out and about, don't come a gutsa or do your block because you don't know the sayings, just say "bloody oath mate" and she'll be right!

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Your Comment
Very entertaining Susan. I think the younger generation relies on American media for their slang. I have to disagree with Aussies saying flip flops for thongs. That is so British.
by May Cross (score: 3|6743) 22 days ago
Yeah you got flip flops and thongs the wrong way around we of course say thongs
by Leanne Sampson-Bowden (score: 2|133) 19 days ago
by Barry J on 30/01/2017
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