English from down under: fair dinkum !

English from down under: Fair dinkum !
Australian English has words which have meanings you do not expect. Examples are "fair dinkum" (meaning: 'of course I am telling the truth') and "You little ripper !" (meaning: 'Words of praise fail me' ) or "Not my bowl of rice" (meaning: 'Not my cup of tea' or 'I don't like it'). There also Australian words which have a completely different meaning in British English and American English which can lead to very confusing answers.

Imagine you ask the question, "Where's the cook?" when you are in London then the answer is most likely "He is cooking a meal in the kitchen". In Australia the question could result in a completely different answer. In Australia the answer could be "I don't have a wife. I am not married". In Australia the word "cook" refers to one's wife instead of someone who works in a kitchen preparing food.

Imagine asking the question "Where's the duchess?" when you are in a stately manor in the Cotswolds. In England the answer will most likely result in "The lady of manor is not at home". The word "duchess" refers to a woman of peerage. In Australia the answer could be "There is no duchess in this house". In Australian English the word "duchess" refers to a sideboard. So the question can result in a confusing answer if you are not familiar with the Australian meaning of the word "duchess".

In England asking the question, "Where's the butcher?" will result in someone pointing you in the direction of shop where you can buy meat. In Australia you would not be directed to a shop where you can buy meat. You would be directed to a boozer or a pub. In Australian English the word "butcher" refers to small glass of beer.

In the UK the word "snag" has several meanings. It refers to an unexpected or hidden obstacle or drawback. A sentence could be "There's one small snag". It could also refer to a sharp angular or snagged projection. A sentence could be "When I raised my binoculars to a snag, or a jagged top of a broken burned-out tree I found myself locked in a gaze with a female on her nest."

In the US a "snag" means something completely different. The word "snag" refers to a 'dead tree' like in the sentence "Dozens of species of birds and mammals use standing snags for nesting.". Snag is also used as an abbreviation so as to refer to particular type of man. In street lingo snag stands for "Sensitive New Age Gay". It is the modern term for a effeminated metrosexual. In Australia the word "snag" has a meaning which has no resemblance to the meanings of the word in American English or British English. In Australian English the word "snag" refers to a sausage.

The meaning of a word can greatly differ depending on the country in which you are at that particular point in time. So fair dinkum I would be a drongo if I do not understand a sandgroper. They would probably think of me as not the full quid. What a right plonker they would think me to be. And that's not my bowl of rice.

Comment Stream