When I think of Australian slang I think of Alf “Stone the Crows” Stewart from the unkillable TV stalwart Home and Away, who speaks like a Slang Stereotype Generator circa 1970 and probably last got laid in the same decade. That is to say my mind goes to the worst example of ocker Australian slang imaginable.
Nobody talks like that, I assure friends from farther afield than Perth, we just speak normally, honestly we do.
But today a certain Pom suggested to me (apropos of my using the term “cadbury” to deride my drinking ability, or lack thereof) that I knew more Australian slang than I realised.
And, after only the lamest effort at research, I think maybe he is right. A google search led me to Koala Net, which claims to be a comprehensive dictionary of Australian slang and makes for interesting reading. Colour me ignorant but I’ve never really thought of some phrases (“dob”, “bottle shop”, “bathers” and “arvo” for starters) as particularly Australian. I sort of thought everyone knew what a “bottle shop” was. Koala Net disagrees.
Reading on through the allegedly comprehensive dictionary, however, I have some more serious questions. Namely has anybody in the history of Australian ever used the phrase “Aussie Salute”, which allegedly means to brush flies away with ones hand?
I’d like to repeat and redirect the question towards the following phrases, all of which struck me as slightly disingenuous, as though an elderly bar fly in an outback pub was taking the piss out of the author of the dictionary who was scribbling this shit down on a napkin.
Let's kick off with a real corker. I don’t follow AFL so maybe I’ve just been missing the references, but has anyone every heard it referred to as “Aerial ping pong”? Inquiring minds want to know. Ditto for “bities” (biting insects is the definition given - as if it’s possible to be any more vague than that), “franger” (condom) and “exy” (expensive).
Another surprise appearance was “bluey” which is apparently doing double time to mean not only a pack or equipment but also a traffic ticket or a redhead. Many a traffic infringement have I received but I have never, ever kicked my car and screaming “another fucking bluey” at the sky. Nor have I claimed something is “not my bowl of rice” when I really mean it’s not my cup of tea, described a mistake as having “come a gutser” or asked someone to pass me the “dead horse” when in search of some tomato sauce for my veggie sausage. I have never owned a “bitzer” (mongrel dog) but I’ve known plenty of people who have, and if someone creepily informed me they had cracked the fat (got an erection) my ignorance would probably lead me to give them a polite smile that would surely be misinterpreted.
Moving on from the downright dubious I’d like to petition to have certain phrases reclassified as Bogan Slang, lest we all be smeared with a brush that calls a car accident a “bingle,” a fight a “blue” and welcomes a good idea as “the good oil”. I would also question the definition of “bastard” as a term of endearment, for fear it could lead to some misunderstandings on the part of the drivers at whom I scream insults when they change lanes without indicating. Similarly I think billing a “B & S ball” as “a very enjoyable party” is only going to lead to trouble among the ill informed and if the uninitiated accept that “bloody oath” is an acceptable substitute for “that’s certainly true” in any and all circumstances then we could have some problems.