It’s all in the tongue…

You have probably no doubts that you learn English. But have you ever asked this question: What kind of English are you taught? If you have, you might have reached a conclusion that it is British English or American English. Standard English, probably. More often British English than American English. Learning the standard, you should not forget about other varieties of English existing in different English-speaking countries.

You might have some knowledge about differences in vocabulary between British English and American English, but probably you don’t know much about Australian English. It is famous for its abbreviations and very innovative vocabulary about people and places. The Aussies, as the Australians call themselves, will shorten the names for people and jobs. For example postie is a postman, milko is a milkman, journo is a journalist, vejjo – vegetarian, fisho – a fishmonger, garbo – a garbage collector, firie – a firefighter, brickie – a bricklayer. Surfies are people who go surfing and rellie – or relo – a family relative. Sometimes the names are not only abbreviated – they are funny. Chalkie sounds like postie or firie – but – guess what – it means a teacher – of course a person who uses chalk all the time. It seems that the Australians really like giving various, strange names to people. If you don’t know much about surfing and have little experience, you are a shark biscuit. Well, definetely. Sometimes the names might be offensive – for example a bush pig is an unattractive woman from the country. They might also show deep insight in the social issues. For example, a coconut is brown outside and white inside – it is somebody who has dark skin but has forgotten about his origin and now is in favour of white values. Many Australian names have been taken from TV or commercials. ­Cadbury for example is someone who gets drunk very quickly. It was taken from an advertisemt saying that each bar holds a glass and a half of milk: if you are an Australian Cadbury, you can hold more than one beer and a half. Gumby is a character from a cartoon: green, humanoid creature made of clay. But is also a ticket insector on Melbourne’s public transport system: because their coats have similar colour to the cartoon. Drongo, on the other hand, is a name taken from a real character: a horse. Dongo was a raced horse who ran very badly, and when we talk about people, it means simply: an idiot.

Now it is your turn! Knowing the Australian tendency to shorten words, can you gues what these popular words stand for?

ambo – ambulance
barbie – barbecue
brekkie – breakfast
Chrissie – Christmas
exy – expensive
polly – politician
sunnies – sunglasses
vedgie – vegetable

Improve your vocabulary!

abbreviation – skrót
the Aussies – Australijczycy
bricklayer – murarz
insight – wgląd, spostrzeżenie
humanoid – człekopodobny
doubt – wątpliwość
variety – różnorodoność
innovative – innowacyjny