by Christine Wells
Anyone who has suffered through one of my seemingly endless linguistic battles with Bandita Anna Campbell knows how much I love language, its etymology and its usage.
I love rhythm and rhyme, double entendres, plays on words, and... dare I say it... puns? I've even been known to dash off a limerick or three--strictly within the confines of the Lair.
And I love slang.
The slang or unique expressions a person uses says so much about them, doesn't it? My critique partner, Denise Rossetti, knows she has nailed down a character once she discovers how or if they swear. What a person says when they drop a heavy object on their foot gives you a real insight into their personality, I always think! If you were a Professor Higgins type, you could probably track someone's personal history via the expressions they use.
When I read my first Georgette Heyer, I fell in love with everything about the Regency period, but a standout for me was all of the cant phrases and amusing expressions her characters use. I sprinkle them sparingly in my own novels because I don't want a reader to have to go and look them up, but I enjoyed them immensely in Heyer's works.
The legal firm I worked in was another hot spot for slang and jargon, from both the legal and business world--latin phrases became everyday usage in a rather quaint fashion ("that's very ejusdem generis of you") Sadly, a lot of lawyers are unimaginative in their jargon, especially when in meetings--"touch base", "win-win situation" and "we're not on the same page" are just a few catch-phrases that used to make me roll my eyes. My boss participates in a lot of teleconference calls and I caught him one day marking off a bingo card entitled "Wank Words Bingo" Take a look! Print it out! You'll never suffer through a meeting in boredom again.
Australia (my native country) is rich in colloquial sayings that sometimes take a bit of thought to understand unless you're accustomed to hearing them. It's colourful, irreverent, laconic and often a bit rude--and that seems to sum up the national character. Of course, many of our sayings originated in Cockney England but many are uniquely ours.
When I became a Bandita, another part of my education began. Although I speak the same language as my American counterparts, there's a cultural gap that seems to span an ocean sometimes in terms of meaning and usage. The simplest things can trip me up when I'm in the States. For instance, for elevator, I say lift; for trash I say bin or rubbish and for sweater I say jumper, which can lead to confusion!
I've learned some fabulous expressions from my American colleagues and my favourites of those are mostly southern--
*Amen and a hanky wave
*I'm just sayin'
There are many others, but I'd love to learn more!
So I thought it might be fun if I give you Yanks a list of Aussie slang, and you can try to translate them for me. And then give me one from your own neck of the woods. You can let me guess or you can translate for me if you like! If you're Australian and you know all the answers, why don't you tell me one of your favourite Aussie sayings and I'll add it to the list?
Ready? Here we go:
1 Fair dinkum
2 Strike me pink!
3 Flat out like a lizard drinking
4 How did you pull up this morning?
5 Budgie Smugglers
6 Love in the Sand
7 Deborah Kerr (only Queenslanders will probably get this one!)
9 Gone walkabout
10 Kangaroos loose in the top paddock
13 Acker Dacker
14 A Clayton's
15 Two Pot Screamer