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Aussie English: It’s a lingua on its own


After having taught English as a Second Language for 25 years, I can confidently say that in comparison with British and American English, Aussie English is more difficult to understand but definitely more fun to learn. Like all languages, Australian English is born of a culture and history. However, with the increasing popularity of communication through social networks and technology, the language is changing quickly to suit a new growing culture of ‘mobile language’.

The language that causes the most problems for people new to Australia is the habit of shortening words. This happens by cutting off the word after the first syllable and adding an 'o' or 'ie' for example: breakfast (brekkie), barbeque (barbie) and service station (servo). If you spend enough time in Australia you will get used to these short words, but listening to the context is the best way to understand them.

There are still a lot of old slang expressions used in Australia. For example,
g’day (hello), crikey (surprised), loo (toilet), mozzie (mosquito) and chuck/hang a left (turn left). Language changes on a daily basis as a result of new colloquial expressions and social language (texting). Teenagers especially create new words and expressions that are popular for a while and which only they can understand.

Here are a few examples:
YTB – Yeah the Boys (awesome)
Get lit – Get drunk
Have a gatho – Have a party
Catch ya this arvo – See you in the afternoon

If you can understand the following sentence, then you are well and truly a speaker of Aussie English: ‘Me mate has a massive hangover from last night. He chucked a sickie today. Here’s hopin the boss won’t catch on. Crikey!’

Martha Hendra
English Language & Academic Skills Coordinator
Top Education Institute