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Any Aussies that can approve my 'slang'? Updated with a few more terms

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The NF PB I'm working on takes place in Australia. I had a thought today that it may be a fun addition to the manuscript to include some Aussie slang. I just wanted to make sure that I was using the slang right and that it didn't have any dirty/negative connotations I wasn't aware of.

I've given examples of how the slang phrases are used in my book because those are the ones I'm most concerned about.

So far I've used the following.

chooks = chickens

bathers = swimsuits 

mate = friend/buddy

flat out like a lizard drinking = very busy or working hard. "Oddball didn't sleep, though. He was flat out like a lizard drinking."

like a lily on a dustbin = out of place, rejected, lonely  "Oddball missed his farm and chickens. He felt like a lily on a dustbin."
#1 - March 15, 2013, 07:25 PM
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 10:02 AM by AmandaSue »
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The first three are common, but I've never heard the last two. That doesn't mean you can't use them -- they certainly add flavour, and if the context makes the meaning clear you should be fine.

Another word that is used for swimsuits is "cozzies", though bathers works as well.

Good luck!
#2 - March 15, 2013, 09:12 PM

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They are all familiar to me except the last one. Never heard of that one. The word for swimsuit varies according to what part of Australia you are in. In Victoria (south east) we mostly use "bathers".
Feel free to PM if you have any other queries along the way. Best of luck with your ms.
#3 - March 15, 2013, 09:43 PM
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Chiming in ... I've never heard the last one either. And 'flat out like a lizard drinking' is not common. It's definitely an Aussie idiom but has become a bit quaint now I think. I doubt you'd hear it in normal conversation but perhaps in the context where someone was 'performing' a particular kind of ocker Australian-ness.

Mate is also pretty context-specific. For example, women don't use it as much as men in my experience, and I don't really hear young kids using it either. This is a big place though and as others have said, usage varies widely. Re swimsuits, depending on the state, I've heard everything ranging from bathers, cozzie, togs, swimmers. Not to mention other specific variants such as boardies, budgie smugglers etc!
#4 - March 16, 2013, 01:18 AM

Yeah, when I look up "lily on a dustbin" it has it listed as coming about in 1949, so it is probably old. However, my characters are dogs, so maybe they can be "quaint" hehe.

I want to add a few more

munchie = snack

up a gum tree = in trouble

ratbag = to cause trouble or wreak havoc  (Is this an offensive term? From what I've read it says it's not but I want to be careful)

Also, when describing a surfer, would surfie or shark biscuit be more appropriate?
#5 - March 16, 2013, 09:54 AM
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 10:01 AM by AmandaSue »
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Shark biscuit - LOL. Never heard this before but it is so funny! What age group are you writing for though - it may be too much food for thought. : -)
Munchie is common, and "Up a gum tree" is another quaint saying that folks from the outback/rural settings might say (from an older generation)
Just my ten cents' worth.
Oh, and ratbag is pretty common too, as a person who causes trouble. It can be kind of affectionate too in some contexts (eg your own kids), a bit like "scoundrel".
#6 - March 16, 2013, 02:34 PM
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chooks = chickens
Yep, this is very common. ::-)

bathers = swimsuits 
We say 'bathers' in Victoria, but (as others have mentioned) it varies between states.

mate = friend/buddy
Yep, although it's more common with guys (at least in my experience) and probably more common for the older generations. A lot of Aussie vernacular has been watered down over the last few decades thanks to TV shows, movies etc. from overseas. However, everyone would definitely understand it. :)

flat out like a lizard drinking = very busy or working hard. "Oddball didn't sleep, though. He was flat out like a lizard drinking."
I've heard this one quoted as Aussie slang before, but never actually heard anyone say it in real life.

like a lily on a dustbin = out of place, rejected, lonely  "Oddball missed his farm and chickens. He felt like a lily on a dustbin."
Never heard this one, sorry.

munchie = snack
Yep, this one is fine (especially for kids).

up a gum tree = in trouble
Again, I've heard it quoted as a stereotypical Aussie phrase, but never heard anyone actually say it. I think I had a board game called "Up a Gum Tree" as a kid. ::-)

ratbag = to cause trouble or wreak havoc  (Is this an offensive term? From what I've read it says it's not but I want to be careful)
This is quite common (in my family, at least!) My mum always called us ratbags when we were naughty.

Also, when describing a surfer, would surfie or shark biscuit be more appropriate?
I've never heard of a 'shark biscuit' but 'surfie' should be understood.


Good luck with your PB!  :goodluck
#7 - March 16, 2013, 05:13 PM
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 05:15 PM by yellow_submarine »
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* Tɧe HµSɧ (2015)
* Aℊeηt NøмAⅾ series (2017)

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The one that I heard the most out there was 'fair d'inkum'. Have no idea how to spell it, but it was used all the time and in lots of different ways. 'Good on ya' lots, 'bogans' (slightly less politically correct) for people they didn't like... urrmmm...'thongs' for sandals, that was always a weird one. And don't forget your vegemite in there as well!
#8 - March 16, 2013, 06:16 PM

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I'm going to muddy the waters on 'munchies'. I don't hear that any more much outside my own (middle-aged) age group. Young people around here (WA) tend to say 'snacks'. Have never heard 'Up a gum tree'; Australian characters in bad TV/movies may talk like that but it sounds silly to contemporary Australians, like the writer was trying to lazily achieve a shortcut to denote "Australianness".

I've never heard 'shark biscuit' (and think it's awful, in any case), but 'surfie' is common. It looked like you might have been suggesting 'ratbag' as a verb but it doesn't work that way. You can be a ratbag but you can't ratbag, if that makes sense. Also not common among younger people.

Tad - 'bogan' is a bit of an odd one; it's common but refers pretty specifically to a certain perceived demographic, and can't be used generally to refer to anyone you don't like. Wikipedia attempts to explain it thusly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogan
#9 - March 16, 2013, 07:34 PM

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