You Say Tomato

You see allies, I see language barriers

My husband is American and I am Australian. Though one may be deceived into thinking this union is uncomplicated by social and language barriers, one would be very, very, wrong.

Despite both countries being English-speaking, we use many different phrases that mean very different things, and it has created more than a few unnecessary arguments between us.

Until last year, I was always the one considered weird and strange. I lived in the USA, and thus had to acclimate to the American way of things. I had to change the way I spoke and the phrases and slang I used, ensuring my American counterparts could understand me and that I would retain my sanity.

More recently, we moved our family to my home of Australia and it has provided me with many hours of entertainment watching my husband struggle with the language barrier, as I did in my first years in America.

Early on in his business he noted clients made reference to a guy, ‘Colorado Bob,’ and wondered who this other American was that frequented the same circles, seemed to always be around but was never actually spotted, and surprisingly, came from the very same state he did.

One fine day the realization hit that they were in fact, talking about him! Australians in their typical fashion, had decided to give him a nickname. The culture here is that you’ll get a nickname soon enough, whether you like or want a nickname is of no real consequence. You are given it – and this will be your new name forever and a day – so there’s no use arguing the point.

Given he moved from Colorado his nickname was prefaced by the state, and because no one could ever remember his actual name, ‘Bob’ became his new first name, and thus ‘Colorado Bob’ was born. He’s now gotten so used to it when doing business he will often say, “tell ‘em Colorado Bob came by!”

Now talk to me about integration and tell me it cant be done.

Other common nicknames you will find here are Shazza for Sharon, anyone with red hair may be nicknamed “Blue”(because that makes so much sense), or if they aren’t liked they often use the term “Ranga.” Incidentally, if someone calls you a bastard, it’s almost certainly a term of endearment – except when it’s not, and it’s assumed at the time you should know the difference – we’re fair and reasonable like that.

Far from us to be exclusionary, nicknames are not just reserved for people.

Afternoon is arvo, McDonald’s is Maccas, Acca Dacca is AC/DC (the band), anklebiter refers to a child, servo is service (gas)  station, and though not a nickname, I have to mention one of my favorites – the ever-whimsical ‘fairy floss’ – replacing the very ordinary and obvious ‘cotton candy’.

Cotton candy

Cotton candy may make logical sense, but fairy floss is so much more creative and everyone knows that Australians don’t make sense. (Image via Wikipedia)

We call the kitchen counter a bench here. I cannot tell you the countless times I have told hubby, “The keys/purse/water bottle etc. are on the bench.” Inevitably, I will find him outside in the garden searching on and around the bench for the offending missing item, when it is to be found lying quietly, and very obviously on our ‘counter’.

Last night we had a babysitter arrive. Hubby was talking with her as I was getting ready, and asked her what she’d been doing.

“I’ve been flat chat,” she said.

“Oh, I haven’t heard of that place…Flat Chat… is that where you work?” he responded.

She graciously suppressed her laughter, as she explained to him that the term means ‘busy.’ (Why say a simple word like ‘busy’ when you can jazz it up a little and call it ‘flat chat?’)

He has come home on more than one occasion looking confused and perplexed while trying to recount for me a conversation he had that day, so that I might possibly be able to ‘translate’ for him and he would know what the hell actually went on – while he was smiling and nodding like a bobble-head-doll – his go-to response to nearly everything that confuses him.

Possibly my favorite incident was him telling me he had been sent to see a man ‘Bernard’ about some work. Anyone that knows Australian’s, know we often talk fast and run our words together. This resulted in my husband hearing the man in question’s name as ‘Bertie’.

To be fair, though we would pronounce ‘Bernard’ as ‘Ber-ned‘, in the USA it would be pronounced ‘Ber-Naarrd’. So he could not have possibly correlated the two in such a fast exchange. He apparently asked the referring guy the man’s name twice, he was so unsure of what was said. He didn’t want to ask a third time and risk looking like a moron, so he didn’t.

‘Bertie’ it would be.

He walked to the appropriate department and asked for ‘Bertie’,’ as he explained to me later, “I mumbled the name, hoping they would understand what I meant, because I really wasn’t sure Bertie was correct either.”

Having them realize his confusion and be gracious about it was not going to happen in this lifetime. These are Australian men, ‘paying out’ on someone (laughing at them) is somewhat of a national pastime, and the new American guy would not be exempt from their mockery.

Bertie,” the guy said in a ‘Ernie and Bert’ style voice. “You’re looking for Bertie? Hey guys, Ernie here is looking for Bertie!” Laughter ensued all round when it was made clear who he was searching for, and how it all went so wrong. It was of course all in good fun, and to this day whenever he walks into this particular place of business someone always says in their best ‘Sesame Street’ voice, “Hi Bert!”

I can only imagine his pleasure.

My personal enjoyment has come from the term ‘serviette’ instead of ‘napkin’, which refers instead, to a lady’s sanitary item. This has understandably resulted in my husband getting more than a few odd looks, when he asks for one in a restaurant. (Though I will concede the times, they-are-a-changing, and more people are using this term in the cities.) His issues have come about primarily in our country town more often than the cities, where they are a little more forward and with-the-times.

I didn’t tell him for the first few weeks, it was just too much fun to watch.

Once I caved and confessed the actual meaning and thus the reason for the odd and distasteful looks he was receiving, the term ‘serviette’ became his new best friend. As a result, I imagine there are a lot less waiters on their breaks talking about the weird American dude and his penchant for ladies personal items to be supplied with his dinner. Sadly though, it’s not nearly as much fun for me.

His integration to this country became solidified, a few weeks ago at a local poker game in a pub.

Some guy called across the table and asked what part of Ireland he was from. He told me he hesitated at first – vaguely unsure of himself – before responding that he was not in fact from Ireland, but from the USA (a fact that would be obvious the moment he opened his mouth almost an hour before when the game started).

It was clear to me as he retold this story, that the guy was just being an ass.

“I waited a few minutes for the next hand to be dealt out” he continued.  “Then I cheerfully turned to the same guy and said, “So what part of New Zealand are YOU from?” The crowd broke up into gales of laughter and I was slapped on the back more than a few times.”

(Calling an Australian a New Zealander is akin to calling an American a Canadian or vice-versa. In other words, it’s not too appreciated at best, and insulting at worst. You can imagine how it was intended for our fellow poker player. Touch’e was the comment that came to mind.)

I looked at him in that moment with a kind of awe. “You’ve done it,” I said, “you’ve successfully become a real Australian in less than 2 years, all on your own! You’re like some kind of phenomenon.”

Call me crazy, but knowing what mineral we mine the most of, who the prime minister was in 1943 and how long our dingo fence is, shouldn’t be on the citizenship test. I don’t know the answer to these questions and I’m as ‘dinky-di-true-blue’ (Australian) as they come.

The test should instead be a melding of theory – Can you read and write English? Can you recite the lyrics word-for-word of Jimmy Barnes “Working Class Man?” – And the practical.

The practical can be a scenario just like this one. Pick up on the social cues and give as good as you get. If you fail, you are sent back home immediately, because if you weren’t, you would drown a slow and torturous social death, in the aftermath of your social confusion anyway.

We’re thoughtful like that.

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202 thoughts on “You Say Tomato

  1. etomczyk says:

    Of course, I love it! What fun this is. My favorite one is “ankle biters” = kids. That is priceless. If my children were still small, I would adopt that nickname immediately into our home venacular because that is just perfect.

    Thanks for letting me know that I inspired you. This is international cooperation at it’s best. Take care. (Tell your husand even though I’m still in America, I’m a little less comfortable asking for a “napkin” anymore in a restaurant.)

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    • I love the influence of the fellow blogger on the other side of the world as well, it makes the world seem so much smaller and as the saying goes “strangers are friends I have yet to meet.” I have another post I intend to write this week inspired by a new ‘friend’ in CA!

      Hubby says that whilst he appreciates your solidarity, his humiliation is still a little raw to be celebrating with a fellow American at this time, he hopes to get past it soon (probably with a little payback towards me I imagine 😉

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  2. This was great! I have friends I’ve met thru the ‘net, from Australia, and I’m in the states. Listening to them has been so much fun over the past 5’ish years. There are other differences in the language as well that you didn’t cover, but the ones you did, definately educated me, because I hadn’t heard most of those! Although, the “ranger” reference, I’d heard plenty, but I was just told it was what they called a redhead, not necessarily an unliked redhead – it was a loved family member they called that, so I never would have guessed..lol. I got used to hearing things like tea, biscuits, paddle pop, and would tease back all the time on those 3, and we’d have good fun with it. Then they’d tell me I was wrong, because they were “in the future” and so they’d know better than me. Ah, good times. Thanks for the fun read!

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    • You sure do know some great ones I hadn’t thought of, paddle pop even came up recently with hubby, he was confused by the name! The ranga (I spelled it incorrectly in the original post, thanks for drawing it to my attention) word is more of an in-fun term, until recently when our prime minister (who is almost universally despised in this country since she took over the position from within her own party by ‘usurping the throne’) who is a ‘ranga’ came into power, Since then its been used derogatively when referring to her and has trickled down the chain. I say this so you know that whomever was referring to your loved family member, could well have been saying this in total jest without malice – I don’t want to get anyone into trouble unfairly here! lol

      I remember when the whole end of the world thing happened earlier this year (or was it last?) People kept saying, “Its not the end of the world today, because its already tomorrow here in Australia.” A lot of fun! Thanks for the comment, Ill drop by and check out your blog as well. 🙂

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  3. Wow, so true. Churchill said America and England are two countries divided by a common language, or words that mean something similar but different. Fortunately, Tim Minchin has caught me up on some of the Aussie slang. Footy! And so on.

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  4. Elyse says:

    One of those little language glitches actually launched my current career as a medical writer. I was living in Geneva, Switzerland, when I was hired as a temporary secretary at a big UN Organization (the old foot in the door routine). My boss was a Brit, a doctor, who handed me a 10 page document to “revise” — well if he wanted me to just review it or just read it, then he shouldn’t have just said so. I edited the hell out of it, and have been working as a medical writer ever since!

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    • I love love love this story! Thats brilliant, to fall into a career that way, I bet that Doctor was put in his place with all those corrections! Thanks for stopping by. x

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      • Elyse says:

        Ah, the doctor was/is a dear man and became a great life-long friend. He just didn’t know that I cannot leave a simple sentence alone. And when he asked me to “revise,” I thought he meant “fix.” Instead of being a jerk, he gave me more to do, and appreciated me for my writing skills. He is a friend to this day — and he literally gave me my career. He taught me how to do medical research and medical writing. That is what I do now for a living. Not bad for a girl who hasn’t taken a science class since 9th grade biology.

        I loved this post — so many people don’t understand just how important words are! And how they can differ amongst English speaking peoples!

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  5. Carrie says:

    A “Blue”…seriously?

    I bet you HAVE had a time with Colorado Bob! I didn’t realize there were so many differences…I mean, I KNEW there were, just not so different.

    That makes no sense. Sorry.

    My grandmother used to call me an ankle-biter where I was little. And a whipper-snapper. No clue where she got either of those, because we’re all red-blooded Texans.

    Well, I better go since I’m so flat chat today.

    (I am SO gonna run that in the ground at the office now.)

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    • Carrie says:

      …and oh, by the way: Happy Anniversary!

      Nine years is fab! Congrats, congrats, congrats!!

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    • I know, like I said, Aussies don’ always make a lot of sense, the whole Blue thing is crazy. I hope you do use the flat chat thing, its nice to have a little but of Oz running around an office in TX somewhere! Thanks for the Anniversary wishes, like I told hubby, feels more like 19 years, lol!

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    • Anita Hamilton says:

      Yes, and now to some of the finer points of Aussie English… “A blue” is an argument and ‘Blue’ or ‘Ranga’ is a redhead 🙂

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  6. From this day foreward I will only refer to cotton candy as fairy floss, that is magical!

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    • It never seemed that awesome to me, it just ‘was’.

      Then I moved to the US and people used to think it was fabulous when I told them, I got to thinking about it, fairies are small, what kind of floss would they use?
      And, of course it would be sweet and decadent, they’re fairies! Once I thought about what it was saying, I thought it was fabulous too!
      I mention it to Americans whenever I get the chance now 🙂 Glad you liked it. (I need to figured out who named it!)

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  7. breezyk says:

    I love “flat chat”! I’m going to use that one… most ways of saying you’re busy make you sound like a jerk, i.e. “I’m just sooooo totally swamped” right now… but flat chat just sounds all friendly and endearing. Done.

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    • I love that ‘Australian-isims’ are being used all over the world. How great is that? You know even here the phrase ‘flat chat’ is said in a lighthearted non-stressed way, Ive never seen someone morosely sigh and say “I’m flat chat” Its always in a ‘life is insane but I’m glad I’m along for the ride’, kind-of-way. So I think you have something there, thanks for visiting!

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  8. delajus says:

    Hi, I just wanted to add my voice to all the positive praise for your blog. I’m a new fan and will be following your future blogs closely. Great fun!

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  9. mrsmermaid says:

    This is hilarious. I recently spent a study abroad semester in America – and I picked America because I thought there wouldn’t be a language barrier problem…ha!

    The most hilarious thing I can remember was getting really excited about ‘sweet potatoes’ (which I assumed to be the golden sweet potatoes that are common in Australia), only to be horrified upon seeing normal potatoes with marshmallows on top – literally ‘sweet’ potatoes!!!

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    • OMG I remember that exact same moment for me, it was thanksgiving and when I saw what it was they were going to serve me, I said a polite no to the sweet potato casserole! Now, after 10 years there, I actually love it! The language barrier is SO much more than we realize! Thanks for dropping by 🙂

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  10. “Fairy floss”?!?! I love it!

    I think I may have to start speaking Australian. So many fun little expressions…

    🙂

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    • Fairy floss is one of my favorites, and I get comments on it all the time, its a really whimsical one for the kiddies too – and it works when you are trying to clean teeth (even the fairies have to floss!) Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

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  11. bclund says:

    Those are great Karyn.

    Spent a great summer in Oz visiting relatives as a kid.

    My favorite from my teen years was “chunder” or to throw up, usually after too many Fosters.

    Now that I am older I still will use “Sydney or the bush” to denote “all or nothing”.

    Wasn’t too fond of “get away from my girlfriend, mate”. 🙂

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    • Oh.. I wish I had thought of “chunder” when I was writing this post, chunder IS an awesome word for such a gross action! I haven’t heard Sydney or bush in a while, glad that you are carrying on the traditions across the oceans! Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. edwardgangi says:

    Great story – IHope to read more from this blog soon.

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  13. societyred says:

    Love the way you write! Love your blog! Congrats on your anniversary and being fp’d! Great to see a familiar writer on the front page!

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  14. Mara says:

    Love it! I have a friend who moved here (the US) from Australia and we’ve laughed over a lot language differences before, but you showed me some new ones!

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    • Oh yes, the more you talk about it all, the more cool differences you will find. Its really a fun thing to do – especially when you get people from different parts of different countries who have their own slang terms – it can go on and on! Thanks for stopping by!

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  15. Now, now, married couple from different countries, let’s do this language sharing in a loving way. Every language has its charms and strange expressions.

    I remember reading that the very things you found appealing about a person are the ones that annoy you the most after a while. Promise me that you won’t allow your two language backgrounds become a source of annoyance.

    Ronnie

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    • Oh we have total fun with it, and have for years, there’s no malice in it. My husband likes to tell people “I used to think she had such acute accent, and then I found out after 5 years of marriage, that nagging sounds the same in any accent – its not so cute anymore.” lol
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. Ooh, fairy floss. I might steal that and pretend to be worldly. I do like that term, though.

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  17. livvy30 says:

    Luckily being from ireland, we’re in the middle of everything. We watch TV from all over the English speaking world and use quite a lot of Australian, American and British slang, as well as our own of course! I also teach English as a foreign language and the poor students are often confused when I point out the differences between countries. They all assume there is just one English!

    Like

    • Assuming “English” is one language can be the theoretical death of someone living in a foreign land!

      I lived in Belfast for a year in my 20’s – it provided me many days of confusion trying to just understand the accent – forget trying to decipher the terms! In fact there’s probably a really good blog post in my experiences there somewhere! I loved the term “Just for badness” as in, if you did something just to be a bit of a rebel, or to screw with someone, you would say “I did it just for badness.” Loved it. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

      Like

  18. Anne Schilde says:

    Oh this is great! I’ve been following another Australian blog. I haven’t really had any trouble making the associations yet, even fairy floss (an awesome name!), but I’ve seen comments from others struggling. I hope they get a chance to see this. Asking for a napkin in a restaurant is just too funny, although I suppose they get that a lot from tourists.

    Like

    • I dont think the napkin thing would be as big of a deal in the large cities because of the tourists – as you say, but we live in a pretty small town so they are clueless! (I think my husband might be one of the only Americans here!) Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  19. vandysnape says:

    So funny.. especially that napkin bit made me laugh out loud .. And I always thought British and Australian English are quite similar.. But this is a whole new lingo !!

    Like

  20. bearbelle says:

    I absolutely love this post. I’m from England but I’m currently living in Canada & I’m going through the same kind of thing.
    I work in a clothes shop which altogether makes everything worse. I keep being asked what kinds of pants we stock, of course they mean trousers but to me pants are underwear! Nobody knows what a jumper is but when I say sweater I sound ridiculous!
    I even get laughed at when I ask for a bottle of water & at one point had to repeat myself a few times. In the end I just dropped the ‘t’s from both words.
    Who knew living in an English speaking country would be do difficult for someone English?!

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    • ljr3 says:

      I moved the opposite way and had the exact same problems with clothing and I also got laughed at when asking for water in the UK.

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      • Its interesting we all see “our way” as correct. Except people like myself who have lived in a lot of places, I think we’re just completely confused!

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      • t really is so much more difficult than most people can imagine. My mother traveled to Washington state and got on a bus asking to be dropped of at “Sears” They had no idea what she meant. In the end the whole busload of people were trying to figure out what store “Seeeers” was. They finally got it – Australian for SeaRRs.” lol Thanks for dropping by!

        Like

    • It really is so much more difficult than most people can imagine. My mother traveled to Washington state and got on a bus asking to be dropped of at “Sears” They had no idea what she meant. In the end the whole busload of people were trying to figure out what store “Seeeers” was. They finally got it – Australian for SeaRRs.” lol Thanks for dropping by!

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  21. I would use “Flat chat” for BS :).

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  22. Hahaha Candy Floss, I always get odd looks for that one (;
    Great post

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  23. superstripysox says:

    This really cheered me up! Especially as I wouldn’t have been able to translate Australian-English either. I’m from England so I speak a different kind of English all together. American-speak is a lot easier though, there is a lot of American TV here but I bet they wouldn’t understand me- likewise with Australians. There aren’t so many ‘nicknames’ for things here but we have a lot of weird sayings like ‘over the hill’ means old. Thank’s you’ve really inspired me to create an English phrase book!
    P.S occasionally you meet the odd british person that speaks cockney rhyming slang which can be awkward for any esteemed English person but is really funny- I suggest googling some example 😉 Isn’t Enlglish a funny language?

    Like

    • I love the cockney slang, I have no idea what it all means, but its totally whimsical! I spent a year in Belfast, then Cambridge and then Oxford, so I spent a little time around the English as we learned from each other what the heck we were all saying! You SHOULD do a phrase book, its always such an entertaining language. Thanks so much for your comment!

      Like

  24. I love this post.

    You know, I may be American but I grew up with English teachers and adapted to their slang. It’s funny how every time I speak, people think I am from England and don’t realize I am actually American. Go figure. 😉

    I actually know some Aussie slangs. 😀 They’re the best.

    Like

    • It goes towards the whole “nature vs nurture” mentality. If you are taught by English you will appear more English, because its not about your heritage, its about who you are spending all your time with – it really is a fascinating fact! Thanks for dropping by!

      Like

  25. underwhelmer says:

    “…power point instead of outlet…”

    I wish that’s what we meant when we said power point… instead it means the awful Microsoft program that I’ve used to waste years of my life making garbage content appear meaningful…. 🙂

    Like

  26. […] couples from different countries get together and experience their unique happiness and sadness. In the blog, both of the guy and the girl are from English-speaking countries. The guy is from America and the […]

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  27. natasiarose says:

    Eek. I would so make that napkin mistake…again and again…

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  28. melanied927 says:

    This is great! I’m an English teacher in Chile and Chileans (while their national language is Spanish) have essentially their own dialect and it has been challenging and hilariously fun to learn. For example, their term for not paying a check (dining and ditching) is “hacer perro muerto” literally meaning “do the dead dog.” Cool post.

    Like

  29. I loved this post, it made me laugh! I love all the nick-names. I was meant to be spending a gap year in Australia in September, I wish I still was!

    Like

  30. Lu says:

    Och, this is a great post! I have a similar scenario – I’m Scottish, moved to South Africa – learned all the lingo – met my South African husband and have enticed him back home with me to Scotland – a 15 year long process. I do have some great chuckles (to myself) as I watch him navigate his way around, bless him!!

    Like

    • You sound much more gracious than me with your private chuckling – as you can see, I let the whole world know about his faux pas – luckily he is good humored about it all and is OK with it! Thanks for visiting!

      Like

  31. Mee. says:

    i just started a blog called http://www.tomatoortomato.com, about opinion. this is an awesome find. I’ll add you to my blogroll, it would be awesome if you could do the same!

    Like

  32. Gracie Sam says:

    I love your post! Fairy floss sounds really cool!
    In England, we call it “Candy Floss” 🙂

    Like

    • Ive never heard that term – so you guys have a cross between the US and us – or we have somehow crossed the two of you – its a bit like; “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” lol Thanks for visiting!

      Like

  33. Californilimey says:

    When I first arrived in the US from the UK, I worked as a draughter (Limey English) or drafter (Yankee English), starting immediately after the job interview without the benefit of my drawing equipment. The boss gave me a pencil and drawing board and set me to work. When I made a mistake that needed to be rubbed out, I asked the next guy, “Do you have a rubber I could borrow, please?” “Well I do,” he said, but what do you want it for?” Slightly bewildered at his question I told him, “I made a mistake that I need to rub out.” He paused for a moment, then passed me his eraser without another word. He never even cracked a smile, and since my wife was on the pill, it was several months before I discovered what I had asked him for!

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  34. Russ Nickel says:

    Amusing! I’ll have to keep those things in mind next time I find myself in Australia. I used to just be afraid of the exotic wildlife, but now my old friends words are turning against me too?

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    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t need to worry too much about the wildlife, only some of the animals around here want to kill you. The rest will be happy with a bit of a maul or a slight maiming.

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      • Love this Anon, love comments like this – especially towards unsuspecting visitors…sure its a little cruel but SO amusing. Your right though most of the wildlife will only maim – the ones that will kill you are not lying around in every backyard, just the ones with grass and tress 😉 Thanks for the comment!

        Like

    • Any Australian weight his weight will take any opportunity available to ‘pull your leg’ – its a cultural thing ;)Thanks for dropping by!

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  35. I love your post!! It reminds me of what I’ve heard on a lot of old British TV shows I watch. The old term “Fairy cake” which is a cupcake comes to mind. When I see those baking shows with dolled up cupcakes with lots of frosting, sprinkles, and etc that term comes back to me:)

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    • Thank you for the lovely comment, you’re right about the fairy stuff, we love to use it in any kind of “kiddie food” For instance at birthday parties everyone had “Fairy bread” white sandwich bread slathered in butter and covered in hundred and thousands – or sprinkles- fairy bread! Friends and family in the USA had never head of it!

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  36. That serviette /napkin problem happens in England as well. My family has gotten its share of odd looks! You should have seen us in the grocery store one day trying to expain what powdered sugar was to our friend. Finally the light dawned and she said “icing sugar!” Of course! What were we thinking?

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    • Those grocery store conversations can be brutal, early on in my US stay I was asked if I had a loyalty card – I didn’t know what that was back in those days and my response was “No, I’m not really that loyal.” I got a strange look and I stammered, “well, you know, in LIFE I am, just not to this store.” It was awkward and uncomfortable. Sometimes being new is hard… Thanks for the comment!

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  37. great article.. australian english has always been an inspiration for me… thanks for sharing. 😀

    http://travellersdiningdepot.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/jamie-olivers-perfect-steak/

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  38. Nick says:

    I’ve never had the pleasure of touring the seemingly beautiful down under, but when I think of Australia what comes to mind is the Ford Falcon XB (yes, of course, from Mad Max). The Aussies have developed and designed some amazing cars of American descent. Quite a few of those cars are now making their way to the US, or already have, and I’m glad our friends down under are working hard on some great vehicles!

    Like

    • Australians love their cars! I remember when I was young my father and uncle had a rivalry going on whether the Ford or Holden was a better make of car. My uncle turned up one day with a stick on the back of his (Ford) that read. “This is Ford country, where on a quiet day, you can hear the Holden’s rusting.” Ill never forget it! Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  39. Fun post! I like connecting around the world. A lot of my friends did the whole study abroad thing in Australia, and came back with lots of stories like these. Thanks for the post!

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  40. Nanook says:

    i love it!!! i found you on fresh pressed! i’m an american who just married a canadian, + i’m always amused by how different the cultures are even though we are next door neighbors!!! i started a blog about becoming canadian!!!! http://www.howsitgoingeh-blog.com

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  41. Ghost Writer says:

    I just love the way even in this ‘enlightened’ times something like a mobile cellular telephone is known as a cell phone in USA and a mobile phone in the UK even though they appeared around the same time.

    Like

    • Elyse says:

      My husband just reminded me of an Aussie visitor from years ago. He was young (in his 20s, as were we) and incredibly handsome, but he said that he found Americans a bit “stand-offish” at first, particularly the girls. That was because whenever he would talk about his female friends back home, he would mention that he had “knocked-up” Susan, “knocked-up Sally” — the list of impregnated females seemed endless to his American acquaintances. After several months of no female friends, he realized the problem and let everyone know that in OZ to “knock-up” is to “visit” someone!

      Like

      • Oh Elyse, this had be in gales of laughter! I can visualize that poor boy! He must have been so confused as to why he was not liked (well, not by the right sort of people at least!) Great story, as always, thanks for the comment!

        Like

    • Isn’t it? You would think some things should be universal – like iphone, laptop, fridge… I guess cell or mobile doesn’t fit into it – we use mobile here as well. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

    • Its strange isn’t it? Why on earth couldn’t they release it worldwide with the same name? I don’t understand it either.

      Like

  42. Anonymous says:

    Even within Australia there can be confusing differences! As a West Aussie who has recently moved to Canberra I’ve been surprised by subtle differences in language and intonation. For one, sandwich meat that we call polony back in WA gets called all kinds of different stuff over here! I still haven’t figured out what I’m supposed to call it!

    Like

    • theasaurusvol82 says:

      When I moved to Melbourne, I captioned the traffic updates for morning show programs, and had to learn all the main road names. Of course, these are never called their real names. They have pseudonyms, like Cheesestick. Convinced I’d misheard, I sent that word to air only to find that Melbourne does, in fact, have a gigantic Cheesestick and it hangs over a highway.

      Like

      • NO! Ive never heard of this phenomenon. Though of course “the big (insert object here) is a strange cultural facination here – banana, pineapple, sheep etc. A cheesestick? You’re really not pulling my leg? I would think as you did – that is a pseudonym. So take heart, its not only you – I would be clueless on that one. Thanks for the comment!

        Like

    • I havent been to WA, but I’ve got some friends who hail from there and we DO get confused. Its really amazing how if you put a bunch of people together, they will inevitably carve out their own ‘slang’ language! Someone should do some kind of study on it. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  43. theasaurusvol82 says:

    Oh so true. I’ve got a Canadian friend who’s been in Australia for 6 months and is constantly asking the meaning of our unique slang words. To her, it’s almost like we speak another language (and I’m sure I would be the same if I went to Canada).

    A recent episode of QI on the ABC mentioned the English language – and I was intrigued to discover that Australia and America do not have English as an official language! Canada does, but then they also have Canadian French. I suppose Aussie (pronounced Ozzie, for all the Americans out there) and American English can sometimes be a bit like comparing French and Quebec French, or Spanish and Argentinian Spanish.

    Each to their own, I say. And lots of laughs along the way!

    Like

    • It is interesting to note that the proper “English language” is not as common as we once thought. But you’re right, it makes for some fun times, laughs an interesting eduction and hey, it gave me a blog post! Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  44. This is a great post. I’m an American, married to an American who grew up about 30 miles (I don’t know how many kilometers that is) away, and I learned several new terms after marriage. “Slang-nasty” apparently means “clumsy” or “haphazard” and when her mother is annoyed or exasperated by a person they “make her butt crave apple-butter.”

    Like

    • Ohh.. i love me some “slang-nasty”, it sounds kind of gansta, which if you saw the suburb in which I live, makes it all the more entertaining. I’m going to be using that one! My husband worked with a young girl who was all into youth lingo and she taught me the phrase “haters gonna hate.” I popped it out over dinner one day – dinner with my parents and grandmother. My husband just looked at me with his jaw hanging open. “Like, WTF? Totally inappropriate setting honey.” We laughed about it for ages after. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  45. About 5 years ago I moved from the Midwest to the West (United States) and you can have culture shock due to the different connotations – soda/pop, casserole/hotdish, etc. Makes for some funny as well as akward moments at times. Congrats on being FP!

    Like

  46. Andrew says:

    Interesting article… very well writen. would love it if you checked out my blog… i need some writing tips

    Like

  47. I love the different slang! Hubs grew up exactly one street over from me & calls kids “Tricycle motors”. I have a friend moving from the US to Australia later this month. I’m going to send her your blog link as I’m sure she’ll love it! Nice post.

    Like

    • Thanks for passing the blog along, always nice to be in touch with others who are having the same experiences. You’re right about different sides of the country and even different states. What about the south’s ‘y’all’? I never understood that – was it laziness that they couldn’t push out the words “you all”? Im still confused on that one. Thanks for the comment 🙂

      Like

      • katyj94 says:

        I’m an American, from the Northeastern part of the country and personally, I think that “Y’all” makes more sense than say, Pittsburgh’s “Yinz”, or “You ones”. That took some major verbal evolution there. Or New York’s “You’s”, which I think came from “You is”, but I’m not sure. I guess it’s when you’re talking quickly that you slur and get creative with your wording.

        Like

        • There’s no question that slang – from wherever it comes, is partially derived from a desire to get the word out more quickly. We do it here and I’m sure the y’all is a product of that movement. Its just so distinct to one region Ive wondered about it – why is it the English or Australians or even those in the northern parts of the USA didn’t do it, and yet the southerners did? But then, who do we say ‘arvo’ instead of afternoon and others don’t? Its all a mystery to me, and that’s what gives it charm I guess! Thanks for the comment!

          Like

      • Daisy Thrailkill Dzedzej says:

        Ya’ll sounds so much better than you all or you guys.

        Like

  48. Anita Mac says:

    Love the post! I have moved back and forth from Canada to Australia return, and can no longer remember which expressions go where – I just use them all! I love it when I get a crazy look, like I haven’t got a clue! I have some of my friends using the Aussie slang back in Canada now – it is great fun! Thanks for giving me a chuckle in the middle of the arvo!

    Like

    • That’s the best part, when even you are confused and its your home country. I do and say things now and my friend look at me and say “But you’re FROM here, how have you forgotten this?” It makes life interesting! Thanks for the visit!

      Like

  49. shanescollege says:

    Well… that was…. inspiring.

    Like

  50. ljr3 says:

    I know how your husband feels. I moved from Canada to the UK and after finally getting through learning their form of English (7 years worth) I moved to Aus and had to start all over again! New words, different clothes, dangerous animals… it is a completely different life. However, I have not been given a nickname yet, well, not to my face anyway. However, the “what’s it all about” comment does get a little old… I do miss some of the foods from back home too but must admit the amount of fresh fruit here is great.

    Like

    • Thats right, starting from scratch and feeling like the only clueless one – TWICE! I will say nicknames are more of a guy thing – so don’t feel paranoid that you have one and they haven’t told you! For what its worth – welcome! Hope you like it – my hubby loves it here, and you’re right, it wasn’t until I got “Home” that I realized how much I missed the fresh fruits that are in abundance! Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  51. rootietoot says:

    Oh gosh, an Australian friend visited me in Alabama USA several years ago, and we had much confusion about “fanny” and…um…”P*ssy” until we explained it to each other, then there was much hilarity as our respective husbands were appalled and dismayed by our apparently foul mouths.

    Like

  52. TJ Johnston says:

    I remember a Cheers episode where Sam’s dimwitted date said she was reluctant to see an Australian film because she wasn’t up to reading subtitles.

    Now that she mentioned it, that’s not such a bad idea. 🙂

    (BTW, Diane assured the woman that the dialogue was dubbed.)

    Like

    • bahahaha! OMG, this made me laugh! About 20 years ago I took my first solo trip to the US and was having my nails done in a salon in LA. One of the vietnamese women there asked me what language we spoke in Australia. I was so incredulous that I looked at her deadpan and said “Aboriginal.” She nodded as though it was the most reasonable response in the world. Some people!! Thanks for the great comment.

      Like

  53. Liz says:

    Love this post! I found language variations to be fascinating.

    Like

  54. KL says:

    Love this! So true! My parents live in the USA (Colorado in fact) and I’ve found many amusing things during my visits there linguistically.

    I always have a good chuckle at “marinara” sauce. In the USA, it’s just a tomato sauce, when in fact the meaning of the word is from the sea and therefore means you’ll get a seafood sauce almost anywhere else in the world!

    There is also the use of ‘entree’ as a main course…that one caused massive confusion for me! I always like to order meals in ‘entree’ size, and wasn’t I surprised at the size I got over the USA!

    Great post. Glad your husband is settling in and accepting his new nickname 🙂

    KL

    Like

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, the entree and appetizer thing is a big one too, that I forgot about! I haven’t ordered Marinara here since we’ve been back, but I’m glad you’ve mentioned it – I will wait for the opportunity and have him order it and watch the response when he doesn’t get his tomato-based sauce! Excellent info here, thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  55. Before I went to Australia for the first time, one of my Australian friends told me that everyone over there said, “Nonsense poopy pants!” So naturally, I wanted to fit in and spent my first week spitting that out as much as I could. Eventually, some Australian asked why I kept saying that, and I realized that either my friend was playing a prank on me or was simply delusional.

    Like

    • I have been looking at this comment for the longest time, trying to get my laughter in check and decide what I want to write – I wish this comment could be a post on my blog its so damn funny! Sadly for you, knowing Australians as I do, they were ‘having you on’ – otherwise known as playing a prank on you. Sounds like it worked perfectly! The only sad thing about this whole situation is that I wasn’t around to witness it when you were chortling your “Nonsense poopy pants” comments all over the place! Thanks SO much for the comment, made my day!

      Like

  56. Love this! My boyfriend is an Aussie, and it took me ages to finally grasp what they’ve been talking about with his friends! ‘Knackered’ and all that, and that’s ‘chat’,, pineapples, cuppa, and there’s so much more! The ‘Dal’ thing still gets me 🙂

    Like

    • I just checked out and followed your blog. I used to be a pharmaceutical rep in the Newtown area, back in my early 20’s and I havent been back there since I moved to the US. Now we are back in Oz, Id like to take my hubby to some of the inner-city suburbs, yours looks like it has a lot of good info on this – thanks! Dal, is something I think my phase out with the younger generations – we’ll have to wait and see! Knackered is another good one though, which Id thought of it for this post! Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  57. zorgor says:

    Wow, what a great post! Americans call children anklebiters too! At least my parents did… Perhaps not in Colorado though?

    I’m American and my wife is Chinese so I definitely hear you — even as I am a bit dismayed to learn that Australians and Americans also have a language barrier…

    Like

    • Interesting about the american-anklebiter thing, I have had so many people comment on it, maybe it was just the places I lived – or maybe you have had a lot of aussies living in your town influencing everyone 😉 I think there are barriers even between states! When you start to travel you here strange slang term everywhere! Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  58. kalafels says:

    dats why there’s English, English-English, and British-English differentiation. Very confusing, yet unique at the same time.

    http://kalafels.wordpress.com/

    Like

  59. Jezzmindah says:

    I’ve loads of American friends and they laugh at me for turning ‘t’ into ‘d’ all the time. It’s true, we Aussies do this alot, it’s a trademark of our accent. T & D are the same tongue formation but T is breath and D is voice (I’ve done some voice training). When asking for a glass of water I’ll always have the overpronouced accent mimmiced back to me “Can I have some WARD-A”. We put R’s in the wrong places too, and chop them out of where they should be….don’t even get me started on R’s.

    One time I gave some friends Paw Paw (Paypaya) ointment and they burst into hysterics at the description, because it listed itself as being helpful for “Nappy Rash”…..”Oh you mean DIAPER rash?!!” was the eventual understanding we came to.

    My friend’s been in Aus for 6 years and still can’t bring himself to use the term “thongs”, preferring “flip-flops” because he can’t use “slippers” which are Australian “house shoes”.

    I think the worst part is admitting that, phonetically at least, Americans really do pronounce words the way they’re written. Still this doesn’t stop me from loudly crying “You can’t make fun of my accent, this is MY country!!!” to which I’ll receive the inevitable response. “It Moooi Carntrie”

    sigh

    http://www.jezzmindah.com

    Like

    • I LOVE Moooi Carntrie! For me though, I rest any case my husband tries to bring up with me on these two phrases: Kansas is Can-sus and Arkansas is Are-can-saw. Sorry, those Americans don’t have a leg to stand on with those two in the mix! 😉 Thanks for the fun comment!

      Like

  60. Dor says:

    Adding my two cents as they say in America! I love your blog. It’s funny and fascinating too. You are gooood! Will be looking for more.

    Like

  61. That’s so funny! I really want to go to Australia some day.

    Like

  62. Sunshine says:

    I like that term “flat-chest” to mean busy! Thanks for the educational and great read!

    Like

  63. Yeah! I posted a comment on 17 October 2011, way back before it was cool! I’m bonzer lolly, I am! And congrats for getting on Freshly Pressed. A Deservant Mind? I think so.

    Like

  64. jamieahughes says:

    This was a highly enjoyable read. As a lover of words–slang or otherwise–I love learning how different cultures refer to things. Why not call an umbrella a bumbershoot!? 🙂 Great stuff!

    Like

  65. arief3000 says:

    About 5 years ago I moved from the Midwest to the West (United States) and you can have culture shock due to the different connotations – soda/pop, casserole/hotdish, etc. Makes for some funny as well as akward moments at times. Congrats on being FP!

    Like

    • Thanks for the well-wishes, and you’re right in the US especially there are such vast differences (as well as vast distances) that things vary dramatically within the country, makes for a lot of fun!

      Like

  66. arief3000 says:

    About 5 years ago I moved from the Midwest to the West (United States) and you can have culture shock due to the different connotations – soda/pop, casserole/hotdish, etc. Makes for some funny as well as akward moments at times.

    Like

  67. steph says:

    Haha- the napkin/serviette thing is great! I brought in some sponge candy to work and was totally charmed when my Australian co-worker told me he called it ‘violet crumble’- a much cooler name really.

    Like

  68. Fun post! I like connecting around the world. A lot of my friends did the whole study abroad thing in Australia, and came back with lots of stories like these. Thanks for the post!

    Like

  69. igjepara says:

    Interesting article… very well writen. would love it if you checked out my blog… i need some writing tips

    Like

  70. joahnadiyosa says:

    I was laughing all the way through in reading your blog! It’s really funny sometimes how some terms mean very, very differently. And yes, funny at times! Great post!

    Like

  71. makingup3000 says:

    Oh those were too funny. I’ve never heard those before.

    Like

  72. I absolutely loved this post. In Canada, we grapple with this culturally when we go to the U.S. to shop in border cities or travel. (serviette, poutine, double-double) But you really captured it. Thanks. (Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. My blog was too, today)

    Like

  73. Hilarious!

    It was kind of mean of you not to tell your husband about the napkin…
    🙂

    Like

  74. beth says:

    Being an American, married to a kiwi, living in Australia and soon to be moving back to New Zealand… I feel your pain. I know it all too well! I’ve lived in Aus for about 4 years now and just found out what a ‘lacka band’ was. I’m looking forward to being just as confused for a good year over in NZ, but at least they say cell phones there like we did in the US.

    Gotta love it!!! xx

    Like

  75. LodRose says:

    was brought up learning the american english, but made a lot of british & australian friends from my line of work and my travels.

    indeed these are three different languages to get used to =)

    Like

  76. bimbadeen says:

    Simply loved your blog, it is so true. A french friend of ours was asked to go into the pub and get some plonk. He fronted up to the bar and asked for plonk. The barman asked what kind, he just had to say I don’t know just plonk.

    Like

  77. Oh this entry was just to funny!
    My boyfriend is from New Zealand and I’m Australian. We’ve only been together three months yet we’ve came across some language barriers.
    Our two countries are so similar yet so different.

    Like

  78. be awake says:

    great post 🙂
    my fiance is polish but he was raised in canada. he speak fluently both these languages but when he moved to poland almost two years ago, it was also very entertaining to watch his confusion, when he was trying to communicate. he was missunderstanding many phrases and was very creative in making new one, which no one undarstood.

    Like

  79. S and I come from different parts of the UK – but both in the North of England. We can totally block comms by using any dialect items we still remember, mostly because of pronunciation but occasionally cos the word is used totally differently on each side of the country. You don’t have to be from different continents

    Like

  80. tanitmkpr says:

    I have had many similar experiences in the US (me being a Spaniard and having lived many years abroad).

    Once of the funniest I gave away to the world was saying I only snored when costipated, when asked by my soon-to-be-girlfriend at a friend´s house gathering… boy did I get the crowd going!!

    “Constipado” in spanish means “stuffy-nosed”, basically having a cold. Constipated seemed the perfect match… totally lost in translation!!

    🙂

    Like

  81. rakhikankane says:

    Beautiful blog 🙂
    Cheers!

    Like

  82. Stonehead says:

    I’m an Australian living in north-east Scotland. Not only do I have to deal with the differences between Australian English and British English (as tends to be heard on national radio and TV) but also between Scots English (as spoken by my wife), Lallans (Scots spoken by incomers from the south of Scotland), Dundonian (Scots spoken by my in-laws) and Doric (Scots as spoken by the locals). I find the best way of coping is to lapse into pure, laid-back bushie drawl and keep it laconic. People tend to think I’m thick, Crocodile Dundee or both, all of which makes them happy. And that’s enough for me.

    The real problem, though, is not the language but the social fripperies and customs that the British, particularly the middle-class English, with which they like to shroud everything. I’m far too direct for their liking. They seldom say what they actually mean so they assume I must be saying more than what I’ve said. I tend to take what they say at face value only to discover much later that they meant something else entirely.

    If they see something disgusting, they might say “oh, whatever is that, I wonder what…” whereas I’ll say “bloody hell, that’s a turd”. If they don’t like someone, they’ll say, “well, he’s nice and I wouldn’t want to cause offence, but…” whereas I’ll say “he’s a bastard”.

    When I was a wage slave in the UK, I dropped a few clangers when bosses unveiled high-falutin’ plans only for me to say, “bullshit mate, it won’t bloody work”. I still have an appraisal that says, in part, “learn to curb your colonial directness”. Ha ha ha. 😀

    Like

  83. uponatlas says:

    Australia for the win! You go girl! 🙂

    I have no idea why, but I get unreasonably excited when I find an Aussie blogger… HAHA.

    Love the post!

    🙂

    uponatlas.

    Like

  84. wobsy says:

    Very funny: really enjoyed your piece. I’ve travelled the World and also had more trouble being understood in USA than anywhere else. One bank clerk (teller?) asked me if I spoke English, then seemed taken aback when I replied “I am English!”.
    I had some curious times when I lived in Singapore. They speak “Singlish” which is American words with Chinese grammar. It’s a challenge until you get the hang of it!
    Rob.

    Like

  85. As a Brit who spent several years living stateside, I had many such encounters with the UK versus US English language barrier. My particular favourite, oft-recounted, story occurred when I almost lost it trying to get a graduate student in my lab to lend me her biro. The poor girl just couldn’t grasp that I meant her ballpoint pen. She has not been the same since…

    Like

  86. metan says:

    Loved your post. I blog about old Aussie slang in my posts at times and just can’t get enough of it! What about the boot of your car being called the trunk or the pavement being called a sidewalk? Many years ago a (recent arrived) workmate was told ‘her blood was worth bottling’. She was completely horrified. We had to explain to her that this was a good thing and not a threat!
    Congrats on being FP’d.

    Like

  87. Ohh….man that’s funny….I remember my friend when he came down from Aussie land….I invited him for dinner and once he was done with it I asked my brother to pass the napkin and my friend is like why the hell would i need a napkin…..that was so hilarious…..great post…..

    Like

  88. PB says:

    Hilarious post and comments! So funny! This is why people need to be very understanding of each other.

    I’m an American living in Kurdistan, and those who speak English here have some different words as well. There is UK influence here. But you never call it a napkin – it’s a “tissue.” They use “revise” instead of “review” and “W.C.” instead of “bathroom.” I haven’t had any serious blunders as I’ve seen here yet though!

    Like

  89. hey it was really very well written I loved to read all not just the post but all comments.

    Like

  90. Too funny!! . . . Reminds me of me and my husband – I’m American and my husband is Lebanese! He spent close to 20 years in the States, and I’ve spent the last 11 years in the Arab Gulf. The cultural differences and subtleties have definitely made life fascinating and a wonderful adventure!!

    http://arabianmusings.wordpress.com/

    Like

  91. Mrs. Christa says:

    I was born in Australia to two American parents. I lived there til I was 4, thus my original accent was Australian and the words I learn were as well. My family has kept in good touch with many friends there, so I’ve been able to keep up. I wish I could claim Australian citizenship, but, alas I cannot.

    My husband was born in England to two American parents. (Same month, same year… does he have dual cit? Ohhh yes. So not right.)

    Therefore, while also knowing a lot of Aussie slang, appreciating a lot of Brit telly, we also get 5 birth certificates.

    This post just made me chuckle due to my return trips to Australia and my friends trips here. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  92. laurabroad says:

    I am an Australian currently living in Canada and can totally relate to this! Although we all speak “English”, it is not the same language! I am constantly met with blank looks when I ask for a serviette or for directions to the loo. And it’s not just the terminology – accents, especially the letter “r” are an endless source of misunderstanding and humour. I had an interesting conversation with a man in the shop about where the butter, as I pronounced “butta” was… he had no idea what I was talking about.

    Like

  93. Joe Labriola says:

    I would even say that you both speak different languages! It’s like saying American and English aren’t two different languages, but when those in the other countries can’t comprehend the other’s speech, they are essentially different languages.

    Like

  94. I so want to get to Australia someday but, if I do, I’m going to have to remember the whole napkin thing. Hilarious!

    Like

  95. lostbutf0und says:

    First of all, let’s get past the formals : Great post! Congrats on being squeezed.
    Having that said I’m a Canadian living in Belgium. I work for Indians, attend an International Church where the pastor is from New Jersey USA(congregation is of course….international), most of our friends are either from the UK or South Africa and to top it off…I’m originally from Quebec. No jokes please.
    You seriously don’t want to hear me talk…I think I have a split personality now. Oh well.
    Piece of useless info for the day : South Africans call a stop light —>a robot. Crazy people.

    Like

  96. I am an American. Born in south FLA. My family is Cuban. I am fluent in English and Spanish As I grew up my interaction was mostly with Cuban immigrants and the dialect they speak. After the eighties, there began the influx of Spanish speaking immigrants from south america. Each country has there own “version” of Spanish. My X is Venezuelan and we had the same issues at first.
    For example:I had learned the term “ahorita”, meaning to me as “later”, my X understood it as “right now!”(yes, it does include the exclamation point). That first time we used the word ended up in a serious discussion until it was understood that we had different interpretations of the word.
    Since I live in a melting pot, I have had some interesting moments around others of different nationalities. Some left me thinking “what?” before realizing what the person meant, and others asking for a clarification just in case, before reacting.
    It keeps life interesting and keeps me on my toes.

    Like

  97. I’m a South African married to a Canadian, living in Canada. I go out for petrol instead of gas. Those big things on the highway are not trucks, they’re lorries. A dog of mixed breed is a “pavement special”.Canadians call it a sidewalk; I call it a pavement. I say tomahto, he says tomayto. I say bucket, he says pail. The list goes on and on…

    Like

  98. Awesome post! Very similar to my own blog, which obviously means you are brilliant. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing! I will subscribe to your blog for sure!

    Like

  99. Congrats on FP! Great post 🙂

    Like

  100. orangelime says:

    Have you and your husband come across using the phrase “lucked out”? This one confused me and our Kiwi and a few English friends (we lived in NZ for 5 years) when my husband (American) used it to mean “I got lucky” whereas the rest of us use the phrase to mean “I missed out”.

    Like

  101. Mal says:

    Loved your post…had me in giggles! To be honest, I still can’t get used to the word ‘wicked’ and it’s new ‘awesome’ meaning – to me the word ‘wicked’ conjurs up the wicked witch of the East…or was it the West??

    Like

  102. thats really funny. I wish I had an Aussie nick name now.

    Like

  103. Y says:

    Funny! 🙂 I love that term “flat chat”…and “fairy floss”… so creative. I will try to use them.

    Like

  104. EmSwanson says:

    I’m a Sydney-sider and I’ll never forget the utterly confusing encounter my friend and I had with a couple of American sailors at a music festival here in Australia.

    What we call jam, they call jelly and what we call jelly, they call jello. It definitely shouldn’t have been as difficult as it was!

    Like

  105. ellimacha says:

    I like cotton candy, it make me think about childhood.

    Like

  106. Ammon says:

    Fun post. There’s a quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw that goes something like this “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.”

    Having worked for a rather large, Melbourne-based company for half a decade this is even true for us Yanks and Ozzies as well.

    Like

  107. gaycarboys says:

    Fairy floss!! YUMM!

    Like

  108. I’m new to blogging, and stumbled onto yours while looking for ideas. Consider me a fan. I really enjoyed this, and happy anniversary.

    Like

  109. muneeb34 says:

    Great Blog i come again to your blog …..:)
    see this
    http://www.allitreview.com/

    Like

  110. so many forms of English…language is so hard

    http://triviayourmind.wordpress.com/

    Like

  111. la-la says:

    fun post. but the napkin/serviette thing is something i’ve never come across myself, and i’m australian born and bred. i know the meaning you’re referring to, but i’ve never actually heard anyone use it that way, whereas i have heard it used for a serviette.
    i did spend a year in canada, though, and found the existence of the clothing company roots absolutely hilarious. for non-australians, root is slang for sex down here, so seeing people walking around with ‘roots’ emblazoned across their chest or – worse – their bottoms had me almost pissing myself with laughter (is that another australianism?). my canadian friends, however, were unimpressed.

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    • Its interesting you mention this, as we were recently in Sydney and got talking to a waiter who also didn’t have confusion with the term. Where we live is much more ‘country’ and the term ‘napkin’ certainly DOES have the meaning as it was described. We concluded along with our new waiter friend, that people in the cities are much more exposed to foreign cultures and thus acclimate to the different words and their meanings effortlessly. People in rural areas are much more ‘behind the times’ – both with language and in relation to being exposed to foreigners and thus are confused by terms used differently more easily. Another interesting fact that most people don’t know about Australia, it is so large (almost as large as the US) that there are many different slang terms used in different cities. So much so, that if someone from Melbourne is visiting Sydney, a Sydney-sider may struggle to comprehend his Melbourne-born counterparts meaning, when he is using his local slang!

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