Language barriers in foreign lands are no surprise.
The fun is when you actually speak the same language. This year, I have travelled to many countries where English is the official language and yet my fabulous nasal ‘Strine‘ has caused me problems.
Well it is not a very strong Australian accent, but it is one no less.
Now walking down the street I wasn’t surprised to hear foreign languages, but what really made me giggle was when I thought I was listening to Polish or possibly Hungarian. Both way out of my vocabulary range, only to slowly realise that they were in fact speaking English.
A very Scottish version of English, but you would think I could recognise my own native tongue.
The Irish will tell you that they love a good time. When they ask “How’s the Craic?” it can be a little alarming for the uninitiated. The Craic can mean fun, a good time or even an enjoyable conversation.
So my very rough translation of that question if I was sitting in an Australian pub is “Having a good time?” or “How’s your night going?”, but to fully understand the Irish meaning, you really have to enjoy the Craic with a local.
I have to say, it inspired one of the best t-shirt slogans I’ve ever seen: I’m a Craic Dealer.
It’s so right and so wrong on so many levels.
Being a country that generally loves a pint, I found it alarming that I had so much trouble ordering Ireland’s own cider: Bulmers. I was even told they didn’t have it when I was standing right in front of the tap!
The trick is of course all in the pronunciation. Not to speak so clearly and articulate each syllable. So instead of Bul-mers, the ‘u’ becomes a very short sound and you basically swallow the ‘l’ altogether.
Pointing works too!
There weren’t too many issues here as they are quite used to the Aussie invasion. You just have to put up with ‘Sheila’ and ‘convict’, which coming from South Australia, the freely settled state, gets a little tiresome! (Yes that was tongue in cheek!!)
Our rivalry is a tradition, but we can always win the argument. It’s easy really. I mean they foolishly sent their criminals to paradise, such a harsh punishment! Great weather, fab beaches, amazing scenery.
You see that’s why we call them Pomes – Prisoners of Mother England!
Now don’t be taking offence. I love you guys, you brought us Cricket, Wimbledon and a spectacular 2012 Olympic Games. Who said the Queen doesn’t have a sense of humour!
This is where the fun truly begins. We use the same words with often hilariously different meanings.
Here’s my attempt to clear up some communication break downs.
If an Aussie asks you for a rubber they want an eraser, not a condom.
The direct translation for a fanny pack is a bum bag. A fanny is what some of my friends and I affectionately call a girl’s front bottom.
Speaking of bottoms, a thong is a G-string and thongs are flip flops.
The trunk of a car is the boot and the hood is the bonnet. A trolley is a tram and a shopping cart is a trolley.
Trash is rubbish!
You’ll find yourself walking on the sidewalk, which we know as the footpath.
Finally, rooting for your favourite sporting team is quite acceptable as it means barracking. Root to an Australian; besides being the part of a tree that anchors it to the ground, has an entirely different meaning.
To the Americans, I’ll let you work this one out for yourselves.
Here are a few that will help you out on your next trip Downunder.
Bottlo – If you need an alcoholic beverage this is the place, the Bottle Shop/Liquor Store/Off Licence
Barbie – Not the blonde doll, no this is what we “throw a shrimp on” well more often a ‘snag’ (sausage) or a chop. It’s a barbeque.
Sanga – It’s a sandwich of course.
Sunnies – To keep the sun out of your eyes, you guessed it: Sunglasses.
So I’ve got you a drink, a bite to eat and the sun out of your eyes, you’re all set!
Please tell me about your communication breakdowns, I’d love to hear.