Monday, August 12, 2013

Fair Dinkum, Sheila!

A couple of weeks ago at work while mulling over lunch options, a customer asked me if we the cheese we use in our sandwiches is tasty. I confidently told her that yes, I thought our cheese was quite tasty and that I eat it myself all the time. Apparently dissatisfied with my response she asked again if it was tasty cheese, emphasizing the word tasty. Confused, I told her yet again that I thought our cheese was very tasty. Appearing just as confused as I was, she seemed to give up and just ordered a sandwich.

Bewildered, I told the story to my boss. "What a ridiculous question! What other kind of cheese is there other than tasty - disgusting?!" I said, and he started to laugh. When I asked him what was so funny, he told me that tasty cheese is a TYPE of cheese in Australia, not an adjective meaning cheese that tastes good. 

Oh. Now the customer's confusion made perfect sense to me.

This is just one example of several linguistic misunderstandings I've experienced since being in Australia. Here are some other new (and sometimes very confusing) words and phrases I've encountered:

how you going = how are you
ie. "Hey, how you going?

too easy = no problem
ie. "So just the two lattes for you guys? Too easy!"
(This one really got me at first. When I ordered something at a cafe and a waiter replied with 'too easy' I thought, well do you want me to order something more difficult?!)

doona = comforter
ie. "Australian winters are cold (ha!) so it's important to have a warm doona."

vego = vegetarian
ie. "I don't eat meat, I'm a vego."

reckon = think/suggest
ie. "It's such a nice day out, I reckon we should head to the beach."

globe = lightbulb
ie. "This room is really dim, we need to buy a new globe."
(This made trying to buy a lightbulb pretty difficult at first.)

avo = avodcado
ie. "Would you like some avo on your sandwich?"
(Australians are notorious for shortening words. This is a perfect example!)

arvo = afternoon
ie. "What are you doing this arvo?"
(The 'r' in arvo is silent, so I always think people are asking me what I'm doing this avocado instead of this afternoon.)

ta = thank you
ie. (after someone hands you your change) "Ta!"

mackers = McDonalds
ie. "Do you guys wanna get a burger at mackers later?"

bathers = swimsuit
ie. "Let's put on our bathers and go swimming!"

footie = Australian Rules football
ie. "Want to go watch the footie tomorrow?"

ripper/rip snorter = great, awesome
ie. "The footie game last night was a rip snorter!"
(This one still makes me laugh.)

heaps = a lot
ie. "Come on over for dinner, we have heaps of food."

A beautiful but confusing place.

Like I said, it can be confusing. Learning new words in a language that is supposedly my mother tongue is definitely a bit strange, but  I 'reckon' I've got a pretty good hang of it by now!

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