Lost in Translation: Aussie Slang

Categories International Student Life

I thought we’ll be spared from communication gaps which normally happen if you go to a foreign country which speaks another language apart from yours. In the Philippines, our medium of instruction is English so I thought it’s just the Australian / British accent which I have to adjust to when we get here. Turns out, Aussie English is a whole new world of interesting words, phrases and expressions which take time getting used to.

My husband and I spent our Sunday morning with our friends Christian, Michael and Doris. We went to hear Mass at 8am then went straight to Winston Hills for breakfast.

Sunday brekkie at Cafe Els, Winston Hills with Chris, Michael and Doris

Everything went fine throughout our conversation, until I heard Michael and Chris’ conservation, with Chris getting frantic to head straight to a ‘servo’. Apparently, his car already displayed the low fuel indicator and had to load up on gas. Okay, I knew he wanted to go to a gasoline station but what did servo mean? I whispered my confusion to Karlo, and he told me that servo was short for self-service station, or what we call a gasoline station in the Philippines. Even gasoline is not used as a word here, instead they call it ‘petrol’… Okay so moving on…

Chris at a servo in Cherrybrook

We loaded up on petrol then the conversation continued while Chris was driving. He then talked about ‘power points’ in a house where he was doing repairs. I got confused again because why would he worry about power point slides at work? Because, for me, powerpoint refers to a Microsoft Office software used for presentations. Karlo and Chris seemed fine with the conversation but I totally lost it so I started distracting myself with the views outside the car window. When we got home, I shared to Karlo my confusion once again. Turns out, Chris was referring to a ‘power outlet’ or ‘electric socket’ all along.

I started my 1 year exchange in Japan 10 years ago with zero knowledge of the Japanese language. I knew context clues was the way to decipher things and figure out things in a foreign language. I overestimated the fact that we use English back home and it’s just the same language I’ll be using here anyway. I think I still have to exercise my contextual skills more often here.

Even the way they pronounce their ‘H’ and ‘Z’ are different here. Back home, we pronounce ‘H’ as ‘eych’ but here, it’s pronounced as ‘heych’. In the Philippines, ‘Z’ is ‘zee’, but here, it’s ‘zed’. 

We’ve been here for more than 2 years and it’s interesting to still continuously learn new words and phrases which are unique to the Australian English language. You will find below Karlo and I’s vocabulary list which we’ve built over 2 years 😀

Photo Credit: nomadsworld.com
  • Arvo – afternoon
  • Aussie – Australian
  • Barbie – barbecue
  • Bench – countertop
  • Biscuit – cookie
  • Bloke – man
  • Boot – trunk of a car
  • Brekky – breakfast
  • Brissy – Brisbane
  • Brollie – umbrella
  • Car park – parking lot
  • Chemist – pharmacy
  • Chips – french fries
  • Chook – chicken
  • Chrissy – Christmas
  • Cuppa – cup of tea (or coffee?)
  • Doona – comforter
  • Din dins – dinner
  • EFTPOS – Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale aka direct debit
  • Entree – appetiser
  • Fairy floss – cotton candy
  • Foot path – side walk
  • Footy – football
  • Fortnight – every two weeks
  • GP – general practitioner / doctor
  • Granny flat
  • Hens party – bachelorette party
  • Hungry Jacks – Burger King
  • Jumper – sweater
  • Kindy – kindergarten
  • Kiwi – someone from New Zealand
  • Lollies – candies
  • Macca’s – McDonald’s
  • Mains – main meal
  • Nappy – diapers
  • Onesie – one-piece suit
  • Petrol – gasoline
  • Pokies – slot machines
  • Postie – postman
  • Power point – power/electrical outlet
  • Pram – child stroller
  • Prezzie / pressy – presents
  • Rego – registration
  • Reno – renovation
  • Rubbish – garbage
  • Salvation Army – Salvos
  • Schoolies – High School leavers
  • Schooner – large glass of beer
  • Scratchies – scratch lottery tickets
  • Script – prescription
  • Servo – service station aka gasoline station
  • Sickie – calling in sick to work
  • Sparky – electrician
  • St Vincent de Paul – Vinnie’s
  • Straya – Australia
  • Sunnies – sunglasses
  • Swimmers – bathing suit or trunks
  • Tap – faucet
  • Texter (pronounced as ‘texta’) – marker
  • Toastie – toasted bread or toasted sandwich
  • Torch – flash light
  • Trady – tradesman
  • Trolley – shopping cart
  • Undies – underwear
  • Uni – university
  • Ute – truck (short for utility)
  • Thong – flip flops
  • Woolies – Woolworths

Phrases / Common expressions

  • Bloody hell
  • BYO
  • Cheers
  • G’day mate
  • Good on ya
  • Heaps
  • I reckon
  • No dramas
  • No worries
  • Shout
  • Ta

Here are some Youtube videos about Australian English, which I also found entertaining 🙂

Fellow friends based in Australia, what other Aussie slang or expressions do you know? Feel free to share or comment below 🙂

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