The Language Barrier…Mind The Gap!

I’ve lived here in the UK for just over 7 years now.  I came from another English-speaking country – a colony of the British Empire no less, built on the entrepreneurial and criminal exploits of those shipped in from the Mother Country.

And I have spent a not insignificant proportion of my time explaining passing comments, pithy retorts and ironic witticisms that lose their essential meaning when transported to the other side of the world.

The comment that sparked it all off 7 years ago was this:

I went for a fossick on your desk.

I had presumed that fossick was a word in use in everyday English language but clearly not.  And I found myself, flush-faced, explaining to the wide-eyed recipient of said comment that it meant to rummage about for something, using all of the relevant Aussie ‘looking for gold’-isms I could think of! 

I am secretly quite proud that I haven’t yet fallen for the whole ‘I was walking to work today and my pants got wet’ gaffe (for those non-English people out there, pants are underpants here) but there have been a few faux pas including thongs and vests (both also undergarments) and a few smiles/sniggers/raised eyebrows at comments like this week’s pearler, ‘suck it up Princess’ (directed at one who needs to get over oneself!)

And it reminded me of some of those truly ‘choice’ (the English would no doubt say ‘cracking’) sayings that I had under my belt when I arrived ‘off the boat’ that captured the essence of a sentiment in the way only an Aussie can:

(Best I warn you here: if you would rather avoid references to swearing and general, unlady-like behaviour, you should stop reading now)
Feeling like a shag on a rock – the shag being a bird of the feathered variety – does not mean I would like to have sex in an uncomfortable place but rather that I’ve been (to use another metaphor) ‘left out in the cold’.
As useless as t*ts on a bull – which has now been replaced by the more genteel ‘as useless as a chocolate teapot’ – you get my drift, right?

…and one of my all time favourites…

Don’t p*ss down my back and tell me it’s raining – which is really not for use in anything other than highly-social, alcoholically-lubricated situations but really sums up what the little voice inside my head is screaming saying sometimes.
So now you’ve had a peek behind the sunburnt brow of this ridgy didge Aussie Expat.  Shocked?  Well, I may not have painted a very erudite picture, but I’ll bet you wouldn’t have learnt any of that watching Neighbours!

But you can do your bit for British-Aussie relations yourself by clicking here and swotting up courtesy of the The Australian Slang Dictionary.

Then we might actually be speaking the language!

And that’d be bonzer mate…

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