A guide to ‘Stralyan-English

Scottish inbound exchange student Laura Collins writes about Australia's unique lingo. 

G’day! Here in Brizzy we are on the verge of winter, the sun is shining, the locals are complaining that it’s cold and the shops are full of winter clothes… last time I checked it was 26 degrees. If this is an Australian, sorry ‘stralyan, winter, I could definitely get used to it.

‘Straya is the only country where you see signs like this: 

And whose coat of arms features a Kangaroo and an Emu. These animals were chosen to grace the coat of arms because they walk on only two legs, which was deemed to be more civilised, and they can’t walk backwards, which symbolises Australia’s forward progression. Both animals are also eaten here… read into that what you will.

But how to fit in in a country like this? By learning the lingo of course! So, without further ado, here is a comprehensive guide to speaking ‘stralyan…

Abbreviate. Abbreviate everything. And when you’re done abbreviating, abbreviate some more. Australia › Stralya › Aus › Oz.

  • Air con air conditioning
  • EFTPOS direct debit (or electronic funds transfer at point of sale, I appreciate this abbreviation)
  • CBD central business district
  • Aussie an Australian
  • Mozzie mosquito
  • Cozzie swimming costume
  • Roo/Joey kangaroo/baby kangaroo still in mother’s pouch
  • Tradie a tradesman
  • Sunnies sunglasses
  • Lippie lipstick

The “i” in the word Australia is entirely optional (‘Strayla) BUT other vowels are important…once you’ve shortened the word, be sure to add a vowel on the end:

  • Convo conversation
  • Combo combination
  • Garbo rubbish bin
  • Cabbie taxi driver
  • Postie postman
  • Relo/Rellies relatives

Know how to greet someone…

  • G’day (mate) good day (mate = anyone at all)
  • Good arvo Good afternoon
  • How ya going? How are you?

…and how to say goodbye and thank you:

  • Have a great one have a good… (but a great what? I’m not sure)
  • Catch ya goodbye
  • Cheers mate thanks
  • Good on ya Good on you
  • Tomorra tomorrow

If you’re feeling a bit peckish make sure you know what and where to order:

  • Tucker food
  • Maccas McDonalds
  • Kfers KFC
  • Hungry Jacks Burger King
  • Barbie BBQ
  • Brekkie breakfast
  • Servo service station
  • Bottle-o liquor store
  • Goon cheap wine
  • Tim Tam a chocolate biscuit (choccy biccy) with a cream filling
  • Fairy bread triangles of sliced white bread spread with margarine and covered in sprinkles
  • Vegemite similar to marmite but not as nice
  • You’ll be chockers after all that! very full

And then there’s the essential shopping vocabulary:

  • Cracker of the day today’s best bargain
  • Merch merchandise
  • Op shop charity shop
  • Salvo salvation army
  • Rego vehicle registration
  • Tracky daks tracksuit bottoms

But what about your family and friends?

  • Talk to your rellies on the blower talk to your relatives on the phone
  • Wrinkles senior citizens
  • Blokes guys
  • Sheilas girls

In Australia they call a spade a spade. The early European settlers named some of the states (Tasmania, Queensland, Victoria) and the rest were named later (Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia).

As driving for 10+ hours a day is a standard Australian road trip, you should know that:

  • The highways are decorated with giant things, such as my friend Matilda the Kangaroo
  • There is a universal place called woop woop (an undefined town very far away) located in the middle of nowhere (so in Australia that would be a couple of hours drive from any city centre)
  • You may drive through the outback (the deserts of inland Australia) or the bush (areas outside major towns and cities) where you could do some bush dancing (ceilidh dancing)
  • Maybe you will swim in some billabongs (stagnant pools)
  • All this may make you mad as a cut snake (insane/disturbed)

One thing I have noticed is that they spend a lot of time talking about what could potentially kill you. But how worried should we be about, say, sharks? Well apparently you are almost twice as likely to be killed by a vending machine tipping over than to end up as shark bait. But then I suppose there are all the other weird and wonderful creatures to worry about.

Now that you’re super excited to come, here are the essential phrases:

  • No worries mate that’s ok (they say this ALL the time)
  • No dramas/yeah no drama that’s ok
  • Wadda ya reckon? what do you think?
  • For sure definitely
  • I’m down for that Being the Land Down Under, they are down for everything not up for everything
  • Sweet as awesome
  • Righto alright
  • Defo definitely
  • Thongs flip flops!
  • Park that there put that there
  • Take a squizz have a look
  • It’s gone walkabout it is lost/can’t be found
  • My shout I’ll pay for this
  • Chuck a sickie take a day off sick from work when you are fine
  • A stinker of a day a really hot day
  • Get a wriggle on hurry up
  • Stunned mullet in a state of shock
  • Strewth crikey
  • Fair dinkum something is fair or true
  • Drongo a fool

Finally, the phrase “buckley’s chance” (or just “buckley’s” or “you’ve got buckley’s”) basically means you have no chance at all. It comes from the English convict William Buckley who escaped and was presumed dead but actually lived among the Wathawurung people for 32 years.

So good on ya mate! Now you’ve had a squizz at all this new lingo, for sure next time you’ve packed your sunnies and mozzie repellent and are on your way to hang out with the roos in the middle of woop woop, stopping at the servo to grab some tucker and have a quick convo with the Aussies will pose no problems at all. Wadda ya reckon? No worries if you’ve got buckley’s. Have a great one!

This was first published on Laura’s blog Topical Tropical Travelogues. Read her previous musings on Why the Brits can’t BBQ and stories from other exchange students by heading to the Study Abroad & Incoming Exchange Blogs.

Last updated:
31 May 2016