Us Aussies argue that we already speak English – but with a twist that turns it into Australian English, otherwise known as ‘Strine‘*.
It’s like no English you’ve ever heard before!
Australians have a very lazy way of talking. Why? One theory is that Aussies have learned to speak without opening or moving their mouths much so the flies can’t get in. Another is the laid-back Aussie lifestyle.
Whatever the reason, speakers of other languages with a more precise way of speaking will find it hard to adapt.
But you have to start somewhere, right?
So here’s 5 simple tips, tricks and phrases for informal conversation that’ll have you talking like an Aussie in no time!
1 Greetings and Farewells
G’day! This one simple word covers ALL the usual greetings such as Good Morning, Hello, Good Afternoon, Hi there, Good Evening, Nice to meet you and Good Day (which is where it came from in the first place).
Say it: ‘gid-DAY’ or ‘guh-DAY’ – it’s easier to sound like an Aussie if you don’t move your lips.
See ya later! One phrase covers all the farewells like Good-bye, Nice to meet you, Until next time and See you later. It doesn’t matter if you’re NOT going to see the person again.
Say it: ‘see-ya-lade-uh’ – and run the syllables together quickly so it sounds like one word!
Whatever your name is, chances are an Australian will call you something else. It’ll probably be a shortened version of your name, possibly with a vowel at the end. For example:
- David = Davo (DAVE-oh)
- Stephen = Stevo (STEVE-oh)
- Robert = Robbo (Rob-oh)
- Sharon = Shazza (SHAZ-uh)
- Elizabeth = Lizzie (LIZ-ee)
- Katherine = Kathy (KATH-ee)
But there are always exceptions!
- John = Johnno (JON-oh)!
- Anne = Annie.
Yes, they’re both longer than the original. Go figure!
Mate! An Aussie often uses this instead of a name for either sex, although it’s more commonly used for men. The person doesn’t actually have to be a mate – or friend – it’s often used even when the person is a total stranger (eg taxi driver or bartender).
3 Useful Phrases and Slang
Owyagoan? Asking ‘How are you?’ or ‘Are you keeping well?’ is easy for Aussies! The phrase How are you going? covers most queries that normally follow a greeting.
Say it: ‘Ow-ya-goan’ in three very quick syllables (‘goan’ rhymes with ‘bone’). Trust me! An Aussie will understand what you’re saying – especially if you add ‘Mate’ to the end!
Pretty Good and Not too Bad are the most common replies to ‘Owyagoan’.
Avagoodweegend! On Friday afternoon – arvo – it’s polite to tell your friends to have a good weekend. This is the Aussie version.
Say it: ‘Avva-good-weeg-END’ – the quicker the better!
Whaddayareckon? This is the Aussie way of asking What do you think? It’s more commonly stated as a comment ie it doesn’t really require an answer.
Say it: ‘Wodder-yuh-reck-on’ – make it sound like one long word. Sound even MORE Aussie by tacking on ‘eh, mate‘ at the end!
No Worries is the standard reply to almost anything!
Slang expressions are too numerous to list here. Listen out for words and phrases that don’t make sense – then try a good slang dictionary to work out the meaning and improve your vocabulary!
4 Social Events
Invitations to informal social events can be confusing – try learning names of some common functions (and the food and drink that goes with them) so you know what to expect!
- Barbecue = Barbie.
- Drinks after work = Happy Hour
- Drinks any time = Booze Up or A Few Bevvies (Beverages)
- Football Match = Footy or the Footy
- Party = Bash or Show
- Tavern = Pub or Boozer
- Tea Break = Smoko (Smoke-oh)
Items of food and drink are rarely called by their real names. SO …
- Alcohol = Booze or Grog
- Beer = Cold One, Coldie, Stubby if in a can or bottle – these are kept cold in an Esky, a portable, insulated container. At the Pub, order a Pint or a Schooner – different sizes of beer glasses.
- Biscuit = Bikky
- Cup of Tea = Cuppa
- Food in general = Tucker
- Food with native ingredients = Bush Tucker
- Sandwich = Sanger (rhymes with hanger, NOT danger)
- Sausage = Snag ie Put another snag on the barbie!
- Tomato Sauce = Dead Horse (rhyming slang)
- Vegetables = Veg (Vedge) or Veggies (Vedgies)
- Wine = Vino (VEE-no) – the Aussie attempt to be sophisticated by saying ‘Wine’ with an ‘Italian’ accent!
5 Putting it all together
So how do you hold a conversation in Strine? Here’s a sample conversation between me and you – I’ve highlighted the words from the hints and tips above.
ME: G’day mate!
YOU: G’day. Owyagoan?
ME: Pretty good. You?
YOU: Not too bad, mate.
ME: You going to Johnno’s Birthday Bash on the weekend?
YOU: It’s a Barbie at his place, isn’t it?
ME: Yeah, we’ll watch the Footy and have a bit of a Booze Up.
YOU: I’ll bring the Esky and a few snags. Whaddayareckon, eh mate?
ME: No worries, mate. I’m bringing my own tucker too.
YOU: OK! See ya later, mate.
See how easy it is to talk like an Aussie when you know how? The good news is that it’ll get easier the more you try!
* What IS ‘Strine’? Just say the word ‘Australian’ very VERY quickly – try to turn it into one syllable – and it’ll sound almost like Strine.
- Introduction to Aussie Slang – an A-Z from RedzAustralia
- Australian Words via Australian National University
- How to Speak With an Australian Accent
- Talking like an Australian (Video Link)
- All photos courtesy of RedzAustralia. More RedzAustralia photos HERE on Flickr!