It's the Bar of Babel as speakers from all nations attempt conversation at the Sydney Opera House Bar.
I laughed when I read my friend Anita’s recent facebook status report: “having fun using words like kerfluffle, bungle (as a noun), shambolic (as in shambles), rectitudiness, verballing, and of course tradies, unis, bikies, footies. . .”
Anita, an American, moved to Australia last summer. As a journalist, part of her job is communicating with government officials and other journalists, so she is an interpreter of the various kinds of English, too. In her last position, she spoke Spanish, so she’s up to the challenge.
When we arrived to visit them, Anita and her husband began translating for us. For example, they advised that “You don’t root for teams, you barrack for them.” Rooting means something quite different from our definition and is probably not mentioned in polite society…….But we’re all friends here. Most Aussie words and phrases do make sense (sometimes you have to think about it), even if they aren’t the words we normally use. Sometimes it’s the pronunciation that throws me.
We in the U.S.A. yield, but the Australians give way. Their signs require more letters to get their message across, but it's easier to spell. (Don't we just look at the shape anyway?) Also, note the one lane bridge. We found a lot of those.
I’ve been reading letters and later emails from Aussies for years and thought I knew what they were saying, but hearing it in person I found myself saying or at least thinking “What?” I need a hearing aid of a different kind.
The people I most easily understood were transplanted English people. Maybe it’s from my years of watching Masterpiece Theater.
Two of my favorite words are “brilliant” for everything wonderful and “shocking” for terrible, which I heard from my friend Monica when we were stopped in a massive traffic jam in Sydney. Another good word is “chuffed,” which seems to mean excited, proud or happy, which I’ve heard Down Under and even from fellow English blogger Paula who writes beautiful posts. She’s on my blogroll as Locks Park Farm.
Here's an Aussie mailman on a motorbike with mail saddlebags. Love the orange!
Jan of Planetjan had fun with the language and other differences when her English friends came to visit her in Los Angeles. Here’s one of her funny posts on the subject: Back to Reality.
In New Zealand…well, let’s not go there right now, except to say that egg is pronounced eeg, as in eek, and left as leeft. Instead, I’ll hand you over to native New Zealander Kiwi Bloke, who has lived in Australia, Canada and even Texas, for all things Kiwi. He’s Kiwi Bloke on my blogroll and is multi-lingual in the English language.
Why don’t you tell me your favorite language choices? Cheers!