Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

November 22, 2012
Visiting Aussie brings up memories of language down under

I have a friend from Australia who arrived in the United States last Wednesday and plans to spend Thanksgiving with my family during his visit.

I’ve known this bloke, Dave Potts, for about 37 years after meeting him when I was on an LDS mission in New South Wales, and he probably has visited the United States about 50 times in those 37 years. He has about 100 friends scattered around the western United States and beyond, but most of them are in Utah, Arizona and California. Many he met when they were missionaries in the land down under.

Several of my friends from Grantsville ended up going to Australia and I figured it was because we would fit in just fine because Australians are very laid-back. I’m sure things have changed, but when I was there Saturdays were mostly a shop-and-play days. People would rush to buy at the shops on Saturday morning, since they closed at noon, then scurry off to the park or beach to play and picnic the rest of the day.

When Dave visits it brings back a few memories of my time in Australia. For example, although Aussies speak English, the accent makes it challenging for Yanks to understand at first.

“Did you come to Australia today?” sounds like “Did you come to Australia to die?”

Those who watch the telly might be familiar with some Australian slang, such as “throw another shrimp on the barbie.” My Aussie friend doesn’t use an abundance of slang. He is, however, a dinky-di (the real thing) Australian, and the slang can be fun.

An “ankle-biter” is a small child, “the bush” is, well, like Skull Valley or any remote area, and a “bush-telly” is a campfire. A “cobber” is a friend and a “cook” is one’s wife. Down Under is both Australia and New Zealand, and “fair dinkum” means true, real or genuine — as in the incredulous “Is that fair dinkum?”

Footy is Australian Rules Football and “good onya” means good for you, well done. A “journo” is a journalist and a “joey” is a baby kangaroo.

I remember one Australian bloke telling me how he had gone out in the outback and shot several kangaroos with a rifle one night by locating them with a spotlight. He said afterward that he felt so bad about it that he never hunted again. “Criminy, we slaughtered ‘em. It was awful,” he said. I don’t know exactly why he wanted to make that confession to me.

A “knocker” is someone who criticizes people and/or things. A “mate” is a buddy or friend.

I remember stopping at several milk bars in Australia, which are corner shops that sell takeaway food such as fish and chips, “bikkies,” which are cookies, and chocolate shakes, which are much more runny than the thick American milk shakes. If you spill, you might need a “serviette,” which is an American napkin, but you would not need an Australian napkin, which is a baby’s diaper.

“Oz” is, well, Australia and “the outback” is the interior of Australia. If you have the “wog” you have the flu, and “too right I have the flu!” means you definitely have the flu.

I asked my Aussie friend about Thanksgiving.

“No, no mate, we don’t have it. We don’t have that much to be thankful about.”

Surely he jests. They at least have their language.

Mark Watson

Sports Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Mark directs all editorial coverage of sports in addition to reporting on a wide range of events from high school football to international racing. He has a wealth of journalism experience, having worked for four other newspapers in the state. Mark grew up in Tooele County and graduated from Grantsville High School and Brigham Young University.

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