Australian English Vocabulary [slang]
|Many works giving an overview
of Australian English have been published; many of these are humour
books designed for tourists or as novelties.
Various publishers have also produced "phrase books" to assist visitors. These books reflect a highly exaggerated and often outdated style of Australian colloquialisms and they should generally be regarded as amusements rather than accurate usage guides.
Australian English incorporates many terms that Australians consider to be unique to their country. One of the best-known of these is outback which means a "remote, sparsely-populated area". Many such words, phrases or usages originated with British and Irish convicts transported to Australia in 1788-1868. And many words which are still used frequently by rural Australians are also used in all or part of England, with variations in meaning.
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 mean "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.
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. It is often claimed that dinkum was derived from the Cantonese (or Hokkien) ding kam, meaning "top gold", during the Australian gold rushes of the 1850's.
This, however, is chronologically improbable since dinkum is first recorded in the 1890s. Scholars give greater credence to the notion that 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.
The derivation dinky-di means a 'true' or devoted Australian. The words dinkum or dinky-di and phrases like true blue are widely purported to be typical Australian sayings, however these sayings are more commonly used in jest or parody rather than as an authentic way of speaking.
Similarly, g'day, a stereotypical Australian greeting, is no longer synonymous with "good day" in other varieties of English (it can be used at night time) and is never used as an expression for "farewell", as "good day" is in other countries.
Sheila, Australian slang for "woman", is derived from the Irish girls' name Síle (IPA: /%u0283i%u02D0l%u02B2%u0259/, anglicised Sheila).
'Aussie' a True Blue Australian
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