I’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.
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.
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.