Australian English: A Quick-Glance Glosssary

Don't chuck a berko, mate. Just remember: i before e--especially when abbreviating Aussie English
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They Say the Darnest Things...
Our quick list only scratches the surface of the quirky world that is Australia English. For a more complete guide, visit Travel Library's Australian English Glossary from A to Zed. Or, check out Lonely Planet's Australian Phrasebook.

English is, of course, Australia's official language. But that doesn't mean your firm grap of American-English slang will save you from being called a galah when you're crackin' on some shelia. We don't suggest you carry this cheat sheet with you everywhere you go, but familiarize yourself with its terms and phrases, and you may be saved from browning off some mate when all you want to do is find the thunder box for a ride on the porcelain bus.

A Few Things to Remember:
Aussies love to abbreviate, and they love to add on an ie when doing so, from brekkie (breakfast) to barbi (barbeque), prozzie (prostitute) to mozzie (mosquito), uni (university) to ciggie (cigarette). Perhaps this started to diffuse some of the menace out of the treacherous elements Down Under; a saltie sounds more like a condiment than a salt-water crocodile, and a freshie strikes the ear as the name for a tasty beverage, rather than the freshwater version of a saltie. It's an infectious pastime, but we advize you to steer clear from excessive ie-ing. Leave it to the natives, lest you come off as a weakie.

A hotel is a pub; they may have rooms to let, but they'll definitely have beer, wine, booze, and probably a few pokie machines, too. A good portion of hotels are also bottle shops, another Aussie standby that sells takeaway beer and wine. If inspired, at last call you can pick up a slab (the Aussie equivalent of a case of beer) and head to the nearest flat and keep going till brekkie.

Each state displays a fierce loyalty to their own brew, whether it's XXXX (pronounced "four-X") in Queesland or Victoria Bitter (VB) in Victoria. Truth is, the main staples all taste about the same. Once you know what you want to order, know what to ask for; beer is served wide varieties: handles, middies, pots, schooners, tens, stubbies, tallies—all denoting glasses of different sizes. If you prefer wine, things get easier—except for when you pick up a cask, meaning a box, not a barrel. And if you're a mixed-drink boozer who's fond of a heavy-handed pour, keep in mind that most pubs in Australia pour one-shot-per-glass coctails. State regulation.

Published: 16 Nov 2004 | Last Updated: 7 Jun 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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