Maia: “Mum, I have no idea what Mr. A said about my work today. He said something, but I don’t know if it was good or bad.”
Me: “You couldn’t hear him?”
Maia: “I heard him fine. But it sounded like a foreign language…”
When we enrolled Maia in school one of the questions for foreign students was, “will your child need a translator?” We joked that yes, between the Queensland accent and the heavy use of slang, she just might need someone to interpret the ‘Strine. We weren’t really serious…
The thing with the Aussie language is it’s excellent fun to listen to, while eavesdropping. It’s liberally sprinkled with mate, g’day, reckon and heaps as well as barbie, bikkie and bogan, arvos, avos and ambos—and after a few tries we got those. The thing-o seems to be if you can shorten a word—you do (sandwich becomes sanger, petrol station becomes servo, Salvation Army Stores become Salvos, bathing suit becomes bathers). Australians, it seems, are lazy…
It’s one thing to truncate a word—it doesn’t take too long to figure out that a snag is a sausage, a yewy is a u-turn (though you don’t want to be sorting that one out in the moment—as in “quick, do a yewy”…), a sickie is a day off, a mozzie is a mosquito and a journo is a journalist. But where we struggle is with the words and slang that are sort of random—it took us a while to realize an op-shop is a thrift store, being shouted a drink was a good thing, and that an eskie is a cooler. I’m still not certain what daggy is and think I may be using fair dinkum wrong.
Maia explained her teacher looked at her work and said something which may or may not have been a compliment. And she was uncertain, should she have said thank-you or sorry? Then she shrugged it off, “I reckon she’ll be right, mum. He said ‘sweet as’ as part of the words.”