When Being “Paid Out” is Bad


Australians actually say “G’day, Mate.”  With a straight face.

But you already knew that.

Over the course of a year, the common use of “mate” went from falling harshly on my American ears to rolling easily off my very own tongue.  I also started saying:

  • One of the multiple Australian sports that involves "kicking goals" to score points - the reason for said euphemisms' popular use.

    One of the multiple Australian sports that involves “kicking goals” to score points – the reason for said euphemisms’ popular use.

    “car park” instead of “parking lot”

  • “supermarket” and “the shops” instead of “grocery store” and “the mall”
  • “sorted” instead of “taken care of”
  • “give it a miss” instead of “we won’t go”
  • “have a go” instead of “give it a try”
  • “I’m keen to…” instead of “I’d like to
  • “kicking goals” instead of “kicking ass”
  • “I’m hanging out for…” instead of “I’m craving…”
  • “roundabout” instead of “traffic circle”
  • “he’s switched on” instead of “he’s really smart”
  • “proper” instead of “real” or “not half-assed”– as in “I’d like to have a proper dinner tonight.”

Sentences that could now easily come out of my mouth:  “Well, if we have to take two cars to the shops, let’s use the carpark closest to the supermarket.  We’ll give the shoe store a miss and just get your thongs (flipflops!) sorted next time.  Before we come home, I’d be keen to go to that new ice cream place just past the roundabout.  I’m really hanging out for some proper gelato.”

I even started shortening my words, like “Freo,” “Doco,” “Smoko,” and “Servo” instead of “Fremantle,” “Documentary,” “(Smoke) break,”  and “Gas Station.”

However, for each thing that rubbed off on me, ten or twenty Aussie-isms didn’t.  I can’t ever see myself saying:

  • “zebra crossing” – said ‘zehbrah’, it refers to the white lines on black asphalt indicating where people should journey from one side of the street to the other.  So far I still patronize “street” or “pedestrian crossings.”
  • My mantra: "finish with power, turn off power point." (Not working so far.)

    My mantra: “finish with power, turn off power point.” (Not working so far.)

    “power point” – no, not the software program for making presentation slides.  In America, we say “outlet” or “socket.”  In Australia, each one comes with a switch.  I’m pathetic at remembering to turn off “power points.”

  • “powerboard” – a power strip.  You know, one of those things you plug into the wall that allows you to power seven electronic devices from the same outlet?
  • “writing off” or “paying out” – i.e. making fun of someone or something.  i.e. “She wrote off N’Sync for a full ten minutes.”  Or, “Matty has been paying out on Jeff all day long.”
  • “tonka tough” – closest equivalent might be “burly,” “tough,” or maybe “gnarly?”
  • A short lesson for anyone uninitiated in the physics of scary auto-experiences.

    A short lesson for anyone uninitiated in the physics of scary auto-experiences.

    “aqua plane” – that horrible thing that can happen to cars on wet roads when the tires lose contact with the asphalt and are instead sliding down the road on a thin film of water.  Known state-side as “hydroplane.”

  •  “Azza,” “Lizza,” “Jez,” etc. as nicknames for people like Aaron, Elizabeth, and Jeremy.  This still strikes me as an unnatural way to shorten names.
  • “fair few” – meaning “lots of.”  i.e. “Oh, I saw a fair few kangaroos on my way here last night.”
  • “bugger” – used in place of “shoot,” “shit,” “darn,” etc.  I recently learned the reason this is (or used to be) such a shocking and inappropriate thing to say.  Buggery is the legal term for sodomy (by its most strict definition).
  • “third time lucky” – a slightly backwards way of saying “third time’s a charm”

I also can’t see myself referring to wearable things as:

  • “trackie dacks” – known to Americans as “sweatpants”
  • “lackie” – a hairtie.  Devolved from “elastic band” to “lackie band” to just plain old “lackie.”
  • Why do I have a funny look on my face when my Australian beau talks about getting himself a new jumper? This is what I imagine.

    Why do I have a funny look on my face when my Australian beau talks about getting himself a new jumper? This is what I think he means.

    “jumper” – a sweater.  Anytime someone talks about jumpers, I picture this awesome outfit I had as kid.  It was only cool in the 80’s.

  • “rugged up” – dressing warmly.  West-coasters in the U.S. might say “Layering up.”

And  I can’t see myself using these phrases in conversation:

  • “catch ya” – a conversation ender, used in place of “goodbye.”  i.e. Person A: “Okay, I’ll be by at six then.”  Person B: “Okay, catch ya.” *click*
  • “too easy” – an extension of the “no worries” mentality.  Said in agreement.
    Person A: “Can you bring me a ladder?”
    Person B: “Yup!  Too easy.”
    Person X:  “I’ll pick you up at 8, then?”
    Person Y: “Okay, too easy.”
  • “give us…” – used when the speaker actually means “give me.”  i.e. “Give us a cheeseburger and a pint of Carlton Dry, please.”  Or (said when you’re the only person in hearing distance), “Give us a hand carrying these boxes outside?”  For a few Australian months, I was very confused as to who was supposed to be involved in various tasks.
  • Photo cred to kiargo.com, selling underware to the masses with this ad and the text, "Can you eat a meat pie in one hand while mowing the lawn with the other? Or is a special night out with the missus spent trackside at the dogs dressed in your cleanest stubbies and singlet?"

    Photo cred to kiargo.com, selling underware to the masses with this ad and the text, “Can you eat a meat pie in one hand while mowing the lawn with the other? Or is a special night out with the missus spent trackside at the dogs dressed in your cleanest stubbies and singlet?”

    “fair dinkum” – can replace the exclamation: “No shit?!”  i.e. “You burned through two clutches in six months?!  Fair dinkum!”  Can also sort of mean “genuine” or “true/honest.”   A person who embodies lots of classic values and ways of life is a “Fair dinkum Aussie.”

  • “won’t be a moment” – telephone customer service people often say this when they really mean “Hang on just a second.”
    Person A: Hi, this is Steve calling for Miranda.  Is she available.”  Person B: “Yes, sir.  Won’t be a moment.”

While I can’t quite bring myself to say things like, “this blog entry is ‘done and dusted’ ” I have gotten quick a kick out of hearing them! ♣



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