Last Week in Oz Recap + How to Speak Australian 4


November 25th, 2014

Denver, Colorado

I did a lot of minor activities in my last week in Australia, so I’ll just give the lowdown in this post.

My last exam was in the afternoon on Saturday, November 15th. On Sunday, I attended a barbeque hosted by the UniSA Climbing Club. My last Australian BBQ reminded me of how much I learned at the first BBQ I attended. First off, it’s called a barbie, not a BBQ. This word is a classic example of the Australian tendency to shorten words and add –ie to the end. However, when people try to mimic Australians by saying the phrase “throw a shrimp on the barbie”, “barbie” is the only word of that saying that is actually accurate Australian lingo. As I have been informed at both my first BBQ and my last BBQ, it’s not shrimp, its prawns. This seems to be the same as the English terminology, so I’m guessing that the use of the word “prawn” rather than “shrimp” reflects some of the British influence on Australian English. Furthermore, it was explained that you throw snags on the barbie, not prawns. A snag is an Australian nickname for a sausage. This probably came from a snag referring to a morsel of food or a light meal, according to British dialect. I generally see Aussies eat two to three snags at a barbecue, which supports the notion that the term snag previously referred to just a morsel of food.

Finally, after the BBQ which included slacklines and a primitive zipline, some of us threw our climbing gear in the boot and headed up to a nearby crag. When someone first told me that they had their gear in the boot, I was extremely confused until I realized that they were referring to the trunk of a car. This term really did not make much sense, ad I never got a clear answer from my friends on why the trunk is called the boot in Australia. Anyway, a group of us did end up going climbing that arvo. Arvo is a shorthand term for afternoon. Australians like to abbreviate a lot of words, but out of all of the abbreviations I’ve heard this one makes the most sense to me. While some of the other shorthand terms they use only eliminate one syllable, it is actually noticeably faster to say arvo rather than afternoon. I wouldn’t mind using this phrase in the US, except I would have to go through the trouble of explaining what it means for each person who hears it. All in all, the barbie was a good time, and I enjoyed being able to hanging out with some of my local climbing friends and get one last outdoor session in before flying back to the States.

Next, on Monday I went climbing with my roommate Andrea at an indoor climbing gym.  It had been quite a few years since she had done any rock climbing, but we found some easier routes and I told her to give it a go. This is an Aussie phrase that I hear a lot, especially when I’m training with my local rock climber or parkour friends. It just means “try it” or give it a shot”, but “give it a go” is by far the most commonly used expression in Australia. I think part of the phrase’s popularity is due to its informality, since Australian social interactions are generally casual and laid back. After Andrea’s safety class, we took turns doing various climbs until we were both wiped out. It was a lot of fun, and I also got to see local climber friends that I hadn’t seen in over a month. One of them was the first person to climb with me at the indoor gym, and also the first person to introduce me to choccies. That is shorthand for FruChocs, a very popular Australian snack. It’s basically chewy peach and apricot fruit centers covered in a layer of milk chocolate. Their flavor is so well-liked that there are also many desserts based on it, such as cheesecake and ice cream. I personally didn’t think they were anything special.

Although I did get to see a lot of climber friends at the BBQ and the indoor climbing gym, I did miss one of my buddies John, who I’ve heard many people call Johnno. While we may shorten people’s names and add an e sound to the end, such as Daniel and Jonathon becoming Danny and Johnny, in Australian they abbreviate the name and add o so the names become Danno and Johnno. I was somewhat surprised by this, since Australians tend to add an e ending when they shorten other words such as breakfast and barbecue. My thinking is that people like to add a different ending to abbreviated names to differentiate them from ordinary words.

When we left the climbing gym, the staff said ta to us. It’s a phrase that I’ve heard a few times, and it just means thank you. From talking to locals, I learned that a lot of people start using the word when they are very young. Many young children have a problem making the th- sound, so a lot of them are taught to say ta when they are thankful for something. It makes sense to make it easier for little kids to show proper manners and not feel challenged with pronunciation, and word follows the common Aussie behavior of shortening words.


Besides attending a BBQ and going climbing, I took a trip to Sydney for a few days just to see the sights. Arriving at my hostel, I was greeted with the typical Australian greeting of “How you going?” For many foreigners, the Australian stereotypical greeting is “G’Day mate!” However, I never actually heard that phrase while in the country, and apparently its usage is somewhat uncommon. Instead, “how you going” is an expression I might take home with me, as I’ve already caught myself using it without thinking. Additionally, after my hostel room key stopped working when I left it near my phone, I had to visit the reception desk to get it re-magnetized. The staff was really cool and said no worries and immediately fixed it. I bring this up because “no worries” is another really prevalent phrase that I’ve heard a lot during my time down under. Australians say this all the time. It basically means “it’s fine”, “it’s all good”, or something else along those lines. While people in the US may use a variety of these equivalent phrases, “no worries” is by far the most common response in those situations.

Anyway, Sydney was amazing, and I spent my full day there touring, seeing sights such as the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. In the evening, I made a trip to the AAPES parkour facility. It ended up being an adventure in itself trying to find the facility, since my phone chose to stop accessing mobile networks halfway through the bus trip. At least I was left with an interesting story to tell the locals, who simply said “good onya” since I eventually found the gym. Good onya means “well done” or “good for you.” It’s commonly used as a simple response or casual positive feedback, similar to Americans saying “nice”, “cool”, or “good job”. All in all, I had a blast exploring Sydney and meeting a few of the local parkour athletes at their gym.

Finally, one of the last things I did in Adelaide before flying back was a pie night with some of the parkour crew as a sort of goodbye get-together for me. I tried to ask what ingredients I could buy, but two of my friends who were looking up the recipes insisted that it was their shout; I ended up bringing some left over brown sugar anyway, since I needed to use it up as I was flying out the next night. A shout is commonly used when at bars or pubs to refer to a round of drinks; for example, a friend might say that it’s your shout, or your turn to buy the round of drinks. Anyway, my buddies were on top of things and got the recipes together and made two pies. The rest of us hung out in the backyard, and helped clean the dishes later since we didn’t cook. That’s when I got teased when throwing away the rubbish, making the mistake of asking for the location of the trash can. The Australians almost never use the word trash, and my friends initially looked at me in confusion before realizing that I was asking for what they call the rubbish bin. Most Australians do understand that I am talking about rubbish or garbage when I mention trash, but it seems like that word is extremely uncommon. In any case, the pies turned out quite good, especially considering that they had to be vegan and gluten free. It ended up being a great night, albeit a little sad due to all the goodbyes.


That’s most of what I did in my last week in Australia, and I was sorry to see my time there come to a close. I’ve just now returned to Colorado, and I’ll put up one more post reflecting on all I’ve learned during my exchange. Stay tuned!




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