Aussie-ism Slips of the Tongue


I’ve definitely picked up some Aussie-isms since moving here over 2 years ago. I think them in my head quite often, but I don’t usually speak them out loud. Really I like to think I’m just picking up Andrew-isms but when I was home in June last year my friends quickly pointed out that ‘yeaaauuuhhh’ (probably best if you hear it, not read it) is definitely not just something Andrew says. They all laughed at me and said it was totally Aussie.  But really, that didn’t count as a slip of the Aussie tongue. Honestly, that was just picking up how Andrew talks- it doesn’t necessarily represent all Australians… at least I don’t think it does.

I just don’t think I verbalize many of the Aussie-isms I pick up. I feel that’s because I find it quite annoying when Americans move here and within 2 weeks they’ve acquired an accent, have started spelling differently and start referring to their moms as their mums. I still refuse to write or say “mum” unless I am specifically writing it about an Australian person’s mum. Like today for instance, I was writing an email to Andrew’s brother and I wrote “my mom and your mum blah blah blah…” Yes, I really did spell it differently when I was referring to my mother versus his mother. I clearly filter what I say and write depending on the person I’m talking to. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with picking up the lingo and slang after a few years, but I guess I tried so hard not to be one of those lameos that thinks they have become an Aussie the minute they walk through those airport doors that now it’s actually weird if I say something that sounds Australian.

So my first official slip of the tongue occurred this week when I was speaking to American clients back home. I said “How are you going?”  No, I didn’t say “how are you doing?” This was definitely ” how are you going.” I guess it’s good that at least I said how ARE YOU going instead of the traditional “how ya’ goin’?”  I also suppose it’s good that it took me over two years to let that one slip to an American. I was shocked when I said it  and immediately thought “they must be so confused… they won’t know how to respond.” I don’t even remember if they did respond because I was too busy pondering my verbal slip.

But I promise… even though I let that one spill out, I will NOT be saying brekkie, pressies, bikkie, cozzie, dunny or any of those other EEEE words any time soon. Those ones still drive me nuts. Maybe in another two years…

11 thoughts on “Aussie-ism Slips of the Tongue”

  1. Oh that’s funny! I relate to SO much of this post. I’m not sure when it was that I started spelling things with an ‘S’ and a ‘U’ but somewhere along the line it became ‘realise’ and ‘neighbour’. But still to this day I worry when I write emails to people back home that they will think I can’t spell. 🙂 I refuse to use the word mum to describe my mother. Like you, my mother is MOM and Gregg’s mother is MUM. I hate the word mummy because seriously all I can picture is a real mummy. Oh, and don’t get me started on cards. I hate trying to buy birthday or Christmas cards for my mom because they say “To Mum With Love…” I pick and choose my Aussie-isms. I LOVE the word bloody. Best adjective ever. I do say “how ya goin” but I’ll be damned if I’ll ever say bikkie or pressie. And if I have children here, they will sleep in a crib, not a cot and will have a pacifier and not a dummy. 🙂 I like that you are turning a little bit Aussie… it is inevitable. But I give you permission to smack anyone that ever tries to call you ‘Elzzzzzzzaaaaaah’. 🙂

  2. Yeah, I gotta admit, the word ‘reckon’ comes out of my mouth way too often, and I cringe everytime I use it. But as you say, when you’ve been here this long, its just inevitable. Ah well… Aussie language, I admit defeat.

  3. Great post! Instead of Andrew’s “yeaaauuuhhh” my Mom and Dad calling me out for saying Steve’s “yep” all the time. Since I’ve been back in CA, people I used to know and strangers have commented on my Aussie accent…which makes me laugh and cringe when it is said in front of Steve because we don’t hear it at all and it’s not something I am consciously doing. I am with you in that people who step off the plane and suddenly use all the slang are lame, but then again I get yelled at by our friends if I don’t use their slang (Dammit Yank, it’s an ESKY not a cooler!) so I only use it when I have to. Also in agreement on the eee words, especially when it is coming out of a guy’s mouth…very cringe-worthy!

    1. Oh Dana… like I said- I will filter what I say depending on who I’m talking to. SO I will say esky if I’m talking to an Aussie, simply because I think they will understand me more if I do. But it never slips out involuntarily. I just wouldn’t say it by accident to other Americans.

      Kevin… I actually think the word reckon ALL THE TIME in my head but I refuse to say it. That’s not even because it’s Australian. That’s more because to me it sounds super southern and if I start saying reckon, I might as well start saying y’all.

      Erin… my kids will sleep in cribs too. I have started adding Us to the word harbour but only if I’m talking about harbours in Australia. Harbors in the US still have no U. I feel like I’m differentiating between two completely separate languages.

  4. I absolutely agree! I saw Aussie words like rubbish rather than garbage, things you need to get you by day to day, but some of the terms just sound silly coming from me. I have lived overseas for over 8 years now, and I still say some things ‘American’ when I’m talking to my parents and some things British or Aussie (just like you said – I do the muym or mom thing too!) I’m not Madonna after all:) I think it sounded ridiculous when she had a British accent after living in London for like a year! I do think my inflection has changed, and some sayings (I kept telling my family to buy a ‘return’ ticket when they were here for the ferry and couldn’t figure out why they were giving me confused looks – ohhhh round trip) but otherwise, it’s just the WAY I say things rather than what I say – and like you said – a lot of that comes from spending a lot of time with your parnter as well:) Granted he comes out with Americanisms now & then as well now after all these years! 🙂

  5. I agree! But those of us with preschool aged kids sort of have to use some Aussie-isms (pram, nappies, “rest” instead of nap, rubbish) just so they will understand what people around them are saying. My favorite so far is when my 3 yr old sings “Where is Thumbkin” and says “How ya going today sir?” instead of the traditional “How are you today sir?” It totally cracks me up and makes me realize how much we are all influenced by the words we hear so often.

  6. It’s been a while since I’ve made it to your blog. Today, I was driven to it. But I’ll get to that in a minute…

    Your post reminded me of when we lived in Hawaii… I REFUSED to speak pidgeon (and only do today as a joke, like “Noni no can” meaning Noni you can’t come). I would get so frustrated with the business professionals around me speaking pidgeon on a daily basis, I would have to call the mainland at least once a week to speak to someone normally, or else fall in line…

    As for what drove me to your blog, my lovely husband has applied for a pilot position in Australia and I have no idea what to expect. (and the best part is he did it without consulting me first…) I don’t know what to expect, so I’m reading your experiences to get an idea. I have a discussion going on at PWC, so if you have any suggestions/ideas, you can reply back to me there.


  7. haha! I love it!! I refuse to say “no worries” 🙂 but I don’t mind a few of the others.

    But the yeeeaaahhh thing – LOL – I say that too. It’s a TOTAL australian thing and my family makes fun of me too. 🙂

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