Spoken Australian English is thought to be highly colloquial, possibly more so than other spoken variants. Whether this idea is true or not, a substantial number of publications aimed at giving an overview of Australian English have been published.
Many books about Australian lore have been published, beginning with Karl Lentzner's Dictionary of the Slang-English of Australia and of Some Mixed Languages in 1892. The first dictionary of based on historical principles that covered Australian English was E. E. Morris's Austral English: A Dictionary of Australasian Words, Phrases and Usages (1898).
After a long period of uninterest and/or antipathy, the first synchronic dictionaries of Australian English began to appear. In 1976 , the Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary was published, the first dictionary edited and published in Australia. In 1981, the more comprehensive Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English was published, after 10 years of research and planning. Updated editions have been published since and the Macquarie Dictionary is widely regarded as authoritative. Oxford University Press also publishes a range of dictionaries of Australian English, including the Oxford Dictionary of Australian English.
Various publishers have also produced "phrase books" to assist visitors. These books reflect a highly exaggerated and often outdated style of Australian colloquialisms and they should partially be regarded as amusements rather than accurate usage guides.
The origins of other terms are not as clear, or are disputed. Dinkum or fair dinkum means "true", "the truth", "speaking the truth", and related meanings, depending on context and inflection. It is often claimed that dinkum was derived from the Cantonese (or Hokkien) ding kam, meaning "top gold", during the Australian goldrushes of the 1850s. This, however, is chronologically improbable since dinkum is first recorded in the 1890s. Scholars give greater credence to the notion that it originated with a now-extinct dialect word from the East Midlands in England, where dinkum (or dincum) meant "hard work" or "fair work", which was also the original meaning in Australian English. The derivation dinky-di means a 'true' or devoted Australian. The words dinkum or dinky-di and phrases like true blue are widely purported to be typical Australian sayings, however these sayings are more commonly used in jest or parody rather than as an authentic way of speaking.
Similarly, g'day, a stereotypical Australian greeting, is no longer synonymous with "good day" in other varieties of English (it can be used at night time) and is never used as an expression for "farewell", as "good day" is in other countries.
Though often thought of as an Aboriginal word, didgeridoo (a well known wooden ceremonial musical instrument) is probably an onomatopoeiac word of Western invention. It has also been suggested that it may have an Irish derivation.
In Australia the term chips is used for what Americans call French Fries, as with British English. In Australia chips is also used for what are called crisps in the UK, this second usage also being the American English term for crisps. The distinction is sometimes made through the adjective hot. The term French Fries is understood and sometimes used by Australians. US restaurants such as McDonalds continue to use the term French Fries in Australia.
In a few cases such as zucchini, snow pea and eggplant, Australian English uses the same terms as American English, whereas the British use the equivalent French terms courgette, mangetout and aubergine. This is possibly due to a fashion that emerged in mid-19th century Britain of adopting French nouns for foodstuffs, and hence the usage changed in Britain while the original terms were preserved in the (ex-)colonies.
There are also occasions when Australians use words or terms which are not common in other forms of English. For example, Australia uses the botanical name capsicum for what the Americans would call (red or green) bell peppers and the British (red or green) peppers. Perhaps this is in order to contrast table pepper (berries of genus Piper) from so-called "hot peppers" (larger fruits of genus Capsicum).
In Australian English tomato sauce (often known simply as "sauce") is the name given to what is basically ketchup in other dialects. However, Ketchup with its slightly spicier and sweeter taste, is still sold in many grocery stores and is common in fast food outlets such as McDonalds. Other sauces made from tomatoes are generally referred to by names related to their uses, such as barbecue and pasta sauce.
Served coffee beverages are given unique descriptive names such as flat white, for an espresso with milk. Other terms include short black, (espresso) and long black, (espresso diluted with water, similar to an Americano in the U.S.). Since the mid-1980s other varieties of coffee have also become popular, although these have generally been known by names used in North America and/or Europe.
As in British English, the colourless, slightly lemon-flavoured, carbonated drink known in North America and elsewhere under brand names such as Sprite and 7 Up is called lemonade, while the more strongly-flavoured drink known as lemonade in North America that is typically made of lemon juice and sugar is sometimes referred to as lemon squash, or sometimes traditional lemonade or club lemon, particularly in carbonated form.
The carbonated drink commonly called sarsaparilla in Australia is a type of root beer, named after the sarsarparilla root from which root beer is made. However, the taste is quite different, to the point that they may be considered two completely different products.
Australians also often refer to McDonald's restaurants as Maccas. The corporation itself sometimes refers to itself informally as Maccas in advertising. Common drinks and food are often shortened like Frozen Coke is simply known as "Froke" in South Australia.
Cheap, unbranded Australian wine is called "cleanskin" wine, after the term for unbranded cattle. Cheap cask wine is often referred to as goon (diminutive slang for flagon), and the plastic cask is referred to as a "goon sack", "goon bag" or "goony". Wine purchased in a box that contains a bladder with a plastic spigot (an Australian invention) may be referred to pejoratively as "Chateau Cardboard."
In Australia a table grouping teams according to their position in a league is called a ladder.
Australians can be bowled over (taken by surprise), stumped (nonplussed) or clean bowled or alternatively hit for six (completely defeated). When answering questions, one can play a straight bat (or a dead bat) (give a non-committal answer) or let that one through to the keeper or shoulder arms (dodge the question), particularly if they are on a sticky wicket (in a tight situation). The questioner in turn can send down a bouncer, a googly, a flipper or a yorker (difficult questions to varying degrees). Alternatively, the question could be a long hop or a dolly — an easy question that person being questioned can use to his or her advantage. The expression "to bat for the other side" is commonly used in respect of gay men or lesbians, and is not necessarily a pejorative.
Rugby union is known as "rugby", "union" or "rahrah". Australian rules is often known in these areas as "AFL" (a name which, strictly speaking, refers to the main governing body, the Australian Football League).
Truck (rather than lorry) has been the only term for heavy goods vehicles in Australia since World War II. Four-wheel drive, which is often abbreviated in writing as 4WD, is the usual name for the class of vehicles known elsewhere as SUVs, as well as utes with 4WD capability. In contrast to American English, neither utes nor passenger 4WD vehicles are usually regarded as being trucks in Australia. Four-wheel drives that are used only in the city and never for off-road driving are commonly given derogatory nicknames based on the names of wealthier suburbs of Australia's various state capital cities, the most common of these is Toorak Tractors, referring to the Melbourne suburb of Toorak.
There are a variety of terms for large and/or articulated trucks, depending on the type of cargo area, size/length, number of axles/wheels and so on. A single trailer articulated truck (typically with 22 wheels in Australia) is known as a semi-trailer or semi (not /'se.mɑe/ as in the USA), an articulated truck with two trailers (typically with 34 tyres) is known as a B-Double (the lead trailer has a fifth wheel supporting the second trailer), or Double Semi. The largest of all articulated trucks are road trains, common on outback highways, which have at least three trailers and often more. In all articulated truck configurations, the powered vehicle at the front is invariably known as a prime mover.
Large special purpose police vans, generally built on truck chassis', which have facilities to test if driver's (reaction times and their ability to safely judge their speed and surroundings) are impaired by being under the influence of alcohol or drugs are known as booze buses.
Some Australian rhyming slang is very localised, for example, a reference to the Sydney racetrack "Warwick Farm" (arm), or a former Melbourne radio station "3KZ" (head).
Rhyming slang was often used to create euphemistic terms for obscene words. In recent years this feature of Australian English has declined, once again due in part to the Americanisation of popular culture, as well as the passage of time and the impermanent nature of slang.
Bigger in the North of the country than in the South
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