Distant Cousins

See 2006 Update, Below

Many readers enjoyed these two stories that appeared in the 16 February 2003 issue, as they showed how different — and how similar — Australians and Americans are:


“Strine” — Australian slang — is invading American speech, says Tom Dalzell, the author of two books on U.S. slang. Thanks to more Australian movies and TV shows becoming hits in America, not to mention the 2000 Olympics, terms such as “no worries”, “agro” (aggravated), “walkabout” and “crikey” (exclamation of surprise) are being heard in the States more frequently. (Brisbane Courier-Mail) …That’s shonky! If that drongo thinks the trend is new, he’s berko.


Tactical Advantage

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is being criticized for spending A$15 million (US$8.9 million) on a “terrorism kit” that is being mailed to every household in the country. The kit contains a booklet on how to spot a terrorist and a refrigerator magnet with emergency telephone numbers. Howard defends the effort, saying it “gives people useful information,” but critics say the money could be better spent elsewhere. (Sydney Morning Herald) …In the U.S., Bush just told everyone to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting. It cost the government nothing, and the rush on hardware stores gave the economy a nice boost.

An Aussie reader responds:

Finally, I have signed up for my two year subscription. Why has it taken so long when I have been subscribed to the free issue for a number of years? Why today? The real reason I have finally made the leap was the comment from another reader about your publication being the only one she trusts. I couldn’t agree more. I have read so many lame stories on other sites about things that happened in Australia which are so blatantly untrue. I have written to them to ask where on earth they got their information and never received a reply. I have only written to you once before to ask you why you said in the Stella Awards you would normally only cover American cases, and was more than satisfied with your reply, which was prompt and sensible.

I also recognise the stories you present as things that actually did happen here, that I’m glad you are sharing with your readers. I can also see where the issues you tackle, such as zero tolerance, are just starting to raise their ugly heads here in Australia. I look to you for information and common sense ways we can combat them before they get out of hand here. I get so tired of all the “made up stories” and your publications are the only ones I really look forward to now. So I thought that if I trust your publications and information this much, I should be able to trust you with my money. Thanks for making my global village a much more interesting place. –Shaz, Victoria, Australia

Just think of how much closer the two countries would be if we spoke the same language!

12 March 2006 Update

I enjoyed running another strine story this week, which brought quite a bit of comment:

Crikey, Mate!

Forget throwing “a shrimp on the barbie” — Australia is getting serious about attracting foreign visitors with its new slogan. After showing lovely scenery and things to do Down Under, the announcer in the Tourism Australia ads demands to know, “So where the bloody hell are you?” Minister for Tourism Fran Bailey loves the tagline, calling it “plain speaking and friendly.” Prime Minister John Howard says no one should be offended by the mild swearing — but won’t say the line himself. When asked to by a radio interviewer, Howard replied that he is “not somebody who uses that expression, certainly not on radio.” (Sydney Morning Herald, Australian AP) …Well bugger him, then.

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1 Comment on “Distant Cousins

  1. Some of the Australia slang words remind me of when I was a young boy growing up in Ohio in the late fifties and sixties. I can remember my mother and grandparents using slang such as simpleton…thought that was my name for a while…lol…I have always said bugger and no worries, chap and mate or matey. I even called my best friend “1st mate” …even now I still say them…I believe that America lost some of our early english slang in the 70s, when it was more popular to say no problem or no problemo, with the increase of migrating ethnic peoples from other countries. Now, the younger generation believe slangs coming from Australia, or even England, is new…but anyone born in the mid 50s and earlier will know of the old anglo saxon slangs long forgotten…or shortly forgotten…take care mates!


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