Australian English vocabulary

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Australian English is a major variety of the English language spoken throughout Australia. Most of the vocabulary of Australian English is shared with British English, though there are notable differences.[1] The vocabulary of Australia is drawn from many sources, including various dialects of British English as well as Gaelic languages, some Indigenous Australian languages, and Polynesian languages.[2]

One of the first dictionaries of Australian slang was Karl Lentzner's Dictionary of the Slang-English of Australia and of Some Mixed Languages in 1892.[non-primary source needed] The first dictionary based on historical principles that covered Australian English was E. E. Morris's Austral English: A Dictionary of Australasian Words, Phrases and Usages (1898). In 1981, the more comprehensive Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English was published. Oxford University Press published their own Australian Oxford Dictionary in 1999, as a joint effort with the Australian National University. Oxford University Press also published The Australian National Dictionary.

Words of Australian origins[edit]

Australian English term Outback means a "remote, sparsely-populated area". Jackaroo is a type of agricultural worker.[3]

Battler is a term that means a person with few natural advantages, who works doggedly and with little reward, who struggles for a livelihood and who displays courage. The first citation for this comes from Henry Lawson in While the Billy Boils (1896): `I sat on him pretty hard for his pretensions, and paid him out for all the patronage he'd worked off on me.. and told him never to pretend to me again he was a battler'.[3]

The origins of other terms are not as clear, or are disputed. Dinkum or fair dinkum means "true", "the truth", "speaking the truth", "authentic" and related meanings, depending on context and inflection. The Evening News (Sydney, NSW) 23 August 1879 has one of the earliest references to fair dinkum. [4] It originated with a now-extinct dialect word from the East Midlands in England, where dinkum (or dincum) meant "hard work" or "fair work", which was also the original meaning in Australian English.[5]

Digger is an Australian soldier. The term was applied during the First World War to Australian and New Zealand soldiers because so much of their time was spent digging trenches. An earlier Australian sense of digger was ‘a miner digging for gold ’. Billy Hughes, prime minister during the First World War, was known as the Little Digger. First recorded in this sense 1916.[3][6]

Fair go - a reasonable chance, a fair deal. Australia often sees itself as an egalitarian society, the land of the fair go, where all citizens have a right to fair treatment.[3][6]

A "Yobo," also spelled Yobbo, is someone who tends to be loud and obnoxious, lacks in social skills and general behaviour. A Yobbo can also apply to someone who over indulges in alcohol and may have little or no regard for his/her appearance. Historically (1970-1990) Yobbos have also been known to have hairstyles such as the ' Mullet' or 'Rattails'. May also be shortened to Yob.

A bogan is another term for describing someone who is a Yobbo, although may have subtle regional differences such as "Bevan" in and around Brisbane, and "Boonah" around Canberra.

Words of Australian Aboriginal origin[edit]

Some elements of Aboriginal languages have been incorporated into Australian English, mainly as names for flora and fauna (for example koala, dingo, kangaroo).

Some examples are cooee and Hard yakka. The former is a high-pitched call (pronounced /kʉː.iː/) which travels long distances and is used to attract attention. Cooee has also become a notional distance: if he's within cooee, we'll spot him. Hard yakka means work, strenuous labour, and is derived from yakka. It comes from yaga meaning ‘work’ in the Yagara indigenous language of the Brisbane region. Yakka found its way into nineteenth-century Australian pidgin, and then passed into Australian English. First recorded 1847.[3]

Boomerang is an Australian word which has moved into International English. It was borrowed from Dharuk, the Aboriginal language spoken in the Sydney region.[3]

Didgeridoo is a wind instrument that was originally found only in Arnhem Land in northern Australia. It is a long, wooden, tubular instrument that produces a low-pitched, resonant sound with complex, rhythmic patterns but little tonal variation.[3]

Words of British and Irish origin[edit]

Many such words, phrases or usages originated with British and Irish settlers to Australia from the 1780s until the present. For example: a creek in Australia (as in North America), is any "stream or small river", whereas in England it is a small watercourse flowing into the sea; paddock is the Australian word for "field", while in England it is a small enclosure for livestock. Bush (as in North America) or scrub means "wooded areas" or "country areas in general" in Australia, while in England they are commonly used only in proper names (such as Shepherd's Bush and Wormwood Scrubs). Australian English and several British English dialects (e.g. Cockney, Scouse, Geordie) use the word mate to mean a friend, rather than the conventional meaning of "a spouse", although this usage has also become common in some other varieties of English.

G'day, a greeting, meaning 'good day'.[7][better source needed][6][8]

Sheila, Australian slang for "woman", is derived from the Irish girls' name Síle (IPA: /ʃiːlʲə/, anglicised Sheila).

Bludger – A person who avoids working, or doing their share of work, a loafer, a hanger-on, one who does not pull their weight. Originally, a pimp.[9]

Billy - a tin or enamel cooking pot with a lid and wire handle, used outdoors, especially for making tea. It comes from the Scottish dialect word billy meaning ‘cooking utensil’.[3]

Alcohol[edit]

Amber; generic term for any beer (lager/stout/ale) in general, but especially cold and on-tap.

Not only has there been a wide variety of measures in which beer is served in pubs in Australia, the names of these glasses differ from one area to another. However, the range of glasses has declined greatly in recent years.

Names of beer glasses in various Australian cities[n 1][n 2][n 3]
Capacity[n 4] Sydney Canberra Darwin Brisbane Adelaide Hobart Melbourne Perth
115 ml (4 fl oz) - small beer foursie shetland
140 ml (5 fl oz) pony pony pony horse/pony pony
170 ml (6 fl oz) six (ounce) small glass bobbie/six
200 ml (7 fl oz) seven seven seven (ounce) butcher seven (ounce) glass glass
285 ml (10 fl oz) middy half pint / middy handle pot[n 5] schooner[n 6] ten (ounce)/pot pot middy/half pint
350 ml (12 fl oz) schmiddy[n 7]
425 ml (15 fl oz) schooner schooner schooner schooner pint[n 6] fifteen / schooner schooner[n 8] schooner[n 8]
570 ml (20 fl oz) pint pint pint pint imperial pint[n 6] pint pint pint
Notes:
  1. ^ Entries in bold are common.
  2. ^ Entries in italics are old-fashioned and/or rare.
  3. ^ Entries marked with a dash are not applicable.
  4. ^ The "fl oz" referred to here is the imperial fluid ounce.
  5. ^ "Pot" is also known as Pot glass
  6. ^ a b c Confusingly for visitors, South Australians use the same names for different volumes than in the other States.
  7. ^ A modern glass size, mainly used with European beers. While the glass may be 350ml, a 330ml or 300ml fill line is common.
    With the increasing popularity of European beers, glasses of size 250ml and 500ml are also becoming more prevalent, but as yet don't seem to have acquired "names".
  8. ^ a b Traditionally, 425 ml is a size not found in Western Australia and Victoria.
References:

Sport[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Andreas Hennings, Australian and New Zealand impact on the English language, 2004, p. 17
  2. ^ Macquarie University (2007), International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, retrieved 2013-08-20 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Meanings and origins of Australian words and idioms". Australian National Dictionary Centre, ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  4. ^ http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/107161756. Retrieved 2014-01-31.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "The dinkum oil on dinkum: Where does it come from?". Australian National University. Archived from the original on 2002-05-11. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  6. ^ a b c Department of Immigration & Citizenship (2007), Life in Australia, retrieved 2013-08-20 
  7. ^ "Wiktionary: G'day". En.wiktionary.org. 2013-08-15. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  8. ^ "Australian English - British English". Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "ANU: OZWORDS December 20 2001". ANU. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  10. ^ Hill, Simon (2012-10-01). "Mainstream Aussie press finally adopting the term football as soccer seen as thing of the past". News.com.au. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hornadge, Bill.(1989) The Australian slanguage: a look at what we say and how we say it (foreword by Spike Milligan). Richmond, Vic: Mandarin ISBN 1-86330-010-4

External links[edit]