Guest blogger: Darcy Daniel talks Aussie

playing the partI’m thrilled to introduce a new guest blogger, fellow Australian writer Darcy Daniel, to MM. Darcy’s debut novel, Playing the Part, was reviewed by Amy R. on MM at the beginning of February, and Amy loved it enough to give it 5 stars. Knowing I live in Australia, Amy emailed me to let me know how great the book was, and to let me know how much she enjoyed the ‘Australian-ness’ of the book. A couple of words were mentioned, and I thought it would be fun to have Darcy guest blog about the more amusing differences between Australian and American English. The result had me giggling the whole way through, so take it away, Darcy . . .

The Difference Between Australian and American English

Being a born and bred Aussie, I was raised on a steady entertainment diet of American television, American movies and American novels. When I grew up and started to write, I thought it made sense to use American spelling and Americanisms in my work since that is the market I wanted to aim at, and know for a fact that Australians consume far more American entertainment than anything else. My theory was that by writing this way, neither an American or Australian reader would be wrenched out of the story when they came across something unusual.

But it seems I wasn’t as clever as I thought. I have had Americans point out words which they have never heard of before, words I hadn’t realised were uniquely Australian. Two of which were found in my debut novel “Playing the Part”.
The first occurs when my hero teasingly refers to the heroine as a ‘sook’. I had no idea that was an Aussie word – which means ‘cry baby’.

Then there’s the other word. It would be the epitome of disrespect to throw a phallic-shaped lump of meat at a beloved icon such as “Barbie”, but in Australia it’s a celebrated Aussie tradition to do just that. For we also have an icon called a ‘barbie’, with which we love to cook our snags (sausages). You guessed it, the barbeque. There also might be some confusion if someone were to say, “Throw a shrimp on the barbie.” That might result in the shortest guest in attendance being accosted, because if you’re a ‘shrimp’ in Australia, you’re smaller than the average person. In Australia we tend to use the word ‘prawn’ instead.

On the topic of food, we love a bit of ‘chokkie’ (chocolate) or a ‘bikkie (cookie) for desert, not to mention a ‘chook’ for the main course. And by ‘chook’, I mean a chicken. We often go to the takeaway (take-out) shop to buy a “cooked chook” – meaning a roast chicken. Another strange variation of the word is when it’s used as an affectionate term to describe ones mother: “The old chook always makes the best pavlova.”

Clothing is another one where we differ. In Australia, a jumper is a warm top with long sleeves – referred to in the US as a ‘sweater’; which makes far more sense. I believe that in America, a ‘jumper’ is someone who jumps off a building or bridge. So I can imagine the confusion and unpleasant imagery created by an American reading a sentence like “She slipped on a jumper”.

And there’s the ‘thong’, one of Australia’s most beloved forms of footwear, which are simply ‘flip-flops’. What Americans refer to as a ‘thong’ we call a ‘G-string’. I’m pretty sure the ‘G’ stands for “Gee this is damn uncomfortable!” We also sometimes refer to the G-string as ‘bum floss’, which would actually sound better with some alliteration by using the US form of slang ‘fanny’ instead of bum. But if Aussies were to refer to it as ‘fanny floss’ it would mean an entirely different thing altogether.

For here in Oz a ‘fanny’ is not our derriere, but rather that most sacred part of a lady.

Speaking of delicate terms that can be misinterpreted between countries, when we hear of Americans ‘rooting’ for their team, we usually have a giggle. In Australia, our use of the word ‘root’ or ‘rooting’ is a colloquialism for having sex, and is only slightly more polite than using the F-word to describe the act.

Which naturally leads to activities in the bedroom. If an American heard that a woman was in bed with a ‘hottie’ while on the ‘blower’ and enjoying a ‘fag’, I’m sure that would invoke some pretty lurid images. But all it means in Australia is that she’s snuggled up in bed with a hot water bottle and chatting with a friend on the phone while smoking a cigarette. So fortunately, there’s no chance she’ll get ‘up the duff’ (pregnant) and soon have to look after a ‘rug rat’ or ‘ankle biter’ (child).

Similarly, if you happen to be at school or working in an office and someone asks your for a ‘rubber’, you wouldn’t crack open your wallet and hand them a small foil packet, instead you’d simply give them an eraser.

Those are the biggest differences I’m aware of between the American and Australian languages. But I’ll leave you with some sayings that you might find amusing.

In Australia, if you were to:-

Chuck a wobbly;
Carry on like a pork chop;
Blow a fuse;
Spit the dummy; or
Do your block

then you’d be pretty damn angry.

If you:-

Act the goat
Are as barmy as a bandicoot; or
Have a few roos loose in the top paddock

then you’re a little bit crazy.

And if you’re anything like me and share your house with a dish-licker; congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a dog.

Darcy Daniel

About Playing the Part

Anthea Cane is a successful actress—well, action star. Her films are mostly about how hot she looks silhouetted by fiery explosions. But Anthea is determined to prove she’s more than just a body. With the role of a lifetime up for grabs—a serious adaptation of her favorite novel—Anthea sets off to her small hometown in the name of research.

Cole Daniel is a blind farmer with no patience for divas, especially one who mercilessly teased him as a young boy. When Anthea shows up using a fake name and pestering him into letting her stay, he can’t pass up the opportunity to torment her just a little.

But Anthea won’t let the stubborn farmer deter her from her goal, even if he is hotter than any man she’s ever met. Cole finds his form of payback less than satisfying when Anthea keeps turning the tables on him, proving her mettle and gaining his respect. Will Anthea’s research land her a man, as well as the part?

For Amy R’s review from earlier this month, you can go here.

About Michelle Diener

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction and fantasy. To find out more about her and her novels, you can visit her website.
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15 Responses to Guest blogger: Darcy Daniel talks Aussie

  1. Welcome to MM, Darcy. So glad you could join us. And I really chuckled through this post 🙂
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …The Emperor’s Conspiracy on sale at a special price

    • Darcy Daniel says:

      Hi Michelle,

      I just wanted to say a belated thank you (due to still having no internet at home) for inviting me to do this blog. It was great fun and I’m so glad everyone enjoyed it.

  2. Amy R says:

    This was such a fun post! I didn’t realize how many differences there were. Whenever I read books that are set in a different country and therefore have different words in them I find myself wanting to use those words since they are fun and different. I did that a lot with Sophie Kinsella and Jill Mansell books that I read. While reading Playing the Part, I was able to figure out from context clues what “sook” and “barbie” were, so it didn’t take away from the story at all. They are just words I don’t hear everyday so they stood out. We have restaurants called “Outback Steakhouse” so their commercials have actors talk in an Australian accent and talk about throwing steaks on the barbie all the time. I really enjoyed you book, Darcy and will definitely be looking forward to more books of yours in the future!
    Amy R`s last blog was …Review, Interview and Giveaway: Platinum by Jeffe Kennedy

  3. Edie Ramer says:

    Darcy, welcome to MM! Even if I just found out I’m a prawn! Eeek! I won’t tell my husband.

    This was a very fun article. I just heard about the ‘fanny’ meaning last year, and thought it was pretty funny. As for ‘bum floss,’ that’s a perfect description, and I’ll use it from now on.

  4. Misty Evans says:

    Nice to have you visit MM, Darcy. Your book sounds great, and I’m glad Amy reviewed it for us. Loved the blog and the humor of our various languages. I’ve been called a shrimp all my life, Edie, but never a prawn. LOL.

    Thanks for being with us today and happy writing!

  5. Your book sounds terrific, Darcy!!
    Glad you could visit us on MM, and I *loved* reading all of the different Aussie words for familiar phrases ;).
    I live in the American Midwest, but I was fortunate enough to get to visit Australia as an exchange student in high school. My host mother greeted me and then, after a while, informed me that we would be having “chook for tea.” I had NO IDEA what that would be and had imagined some wild possibilities… I was SO relieved when I saw that it was just chicken, LOL!
    Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …“How I Met My Mr. (or Ms.) Darcy”

  6. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Darcy,

    Welcome to MM – such fun! As a Canadian many of those terms are common and get me into trouble all the time, but many are delightfully foreign!

    I love the differences between the languages. Makes for wonderful flavor 🙂
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …An awesome way to start the day!

  7. Steve Vera says:

    How fun!
    If I could have any accent in the world, it would be hands down, an Aussie accent! I even used to have a friend from Sidney teach me little words and phrases here and there. Thanks for sharing, I was indeed giggling and chuckling. 🙂

    Steve Vera

  8. Fun and fascinating post! I remember when I started reading Harlequins, I was in LOVE with the ones set in Australia but wow, there were definitely things that went over my head! Best wishes on the book!

  9. Great post! As a Canadian writer, I’m always aware of different spellings and words that Americans may not be familiar with. Words like toque (a knitted hat). Or spelling words like check (as in I’m writing a cheque for $20) this way – Cheque. And we add u to everything, honour, favour, flavour. We have our quirks, but Aussie English is like a whole new language!

    • Darcy Daniel says:

      Jana, there’s something I didn’t know about Canada (which happens to be my dream destination). We also write ‘cheques’ and add the u the same way too 🙂

    • I’ve always found it interesting that Australia, Canada and South Africa very much kept the British spellings (like cheque, and kept the original ‘ou’ spelling) whereas the US went quite a bit their own way, dropping the ‘u’ and spelling a number of words more phonetically. It isn’t as if there were any less of a mix of settlers from around the world to all of these places. Perhaps it is because the US broke away from the Empire earlier than the others, and by the time Canada, Australia and South Africa went their own way, the system was firmly entrenched?

  10. Liz Kreger says:

    Welcome to MM, Darcy. What a terrific subject matter. I was fortunate to have lived in Australia for a year (a long time ago) and your blog brought back a ton of memories. I still remember going to a football game and asking who we were going to “root” for. My friends all stopped dead and stared at me with horror. 😯 I nearly died laughing when they explained.

    Despite it being many years since I’ve been there, I find myself using a lot of Aussie words that I’d picked up. I still say “I reckon” and “no worries”. I even drop the “r” in a few words that I use. 😉

  11. Darcy Daniel says:

    Thank you so much everyone 😉 I’m so glad you enjoyed it and it made you smile 🙂

  12. Liz Flaherty says:

    This was a fun post. We called cigarettes “fags” when I was in high school. I wonder if Australia’s where it came from. I’m like Steve–I love the Australian accent–but I still get it mixed up with British. Not a popular thing to do!
    Liz Flaherty`s last blog was …Confessions of a follower

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