But there IS an “R” in “Tar.” This will be the title of my book about transitioning to life in Australia.
Have no fear; this isn’t really a post about faith. Well, that will undoubtedly pop in- shocking, I know- but this is all about language in my new homeland.
Before you remind me, let me issue a quick disclaimer: I know that I’ve moved to an English-speaking country, and do not have the difficulties that would come from moving to a nation where the language is different from mine. I haven’t faced that challenge, and commend those who have.
Now…I’ve said this a bit before, but it bears repeating: Australian English is very, very different from American English. I’ve been hear for over a year, and I still have no clue what people say, sometimes.
First, there’s the accent. Part of the iconic Aussie dialect is that the country is still technically part of the British Commonwealth. As such, the vowels are rounded a bit, as they are in the UK, and the terminology is strikingly “English.” For instance, I’m meant to have two 15 minute breaks at work each day. These are referred to as my “tea times.” There are also the more stereotypical examples of the elevator being the “lift,” the trunk of the car as the “boot,” tomatoes being “tomahtoes,” and Americans referred to as “Yanks.”
One of the great Australian pastimes seems to be the abbreviation of…everything. After a year, I think I’ve figured it out. Take a word, shave off all but the first syllable, and add “y.” Christmas is “Chrissy;” hospital becomes “hossy,” tantrum is “tanty,” and sunglasses are “sunnies.” This is often infuriating, as I want to run screaming, “just say the other freaking syllable!” But, of course, I don’t. 🙂
Incorporated into the accent is the addition and subtraction of various letters. Take the letter “R,” for example. Words with a flat “O” sound, like “odd,” have the letter added in. The word “God,” or “gosh,” is pronounced more like “gourd,” or “goursh,” depending on how extended the speaker makes it. (For the record, people don’t really refer to “God,” very often, as Aussies are notably indifferent to faith by default. Not a judgmental statement; just a fact. They’re too laid back for a higher power, it seems. The Lord has some work to do in this nation, and I can’t wait to see where He leads. I thank Him every day for sending me here!)
Contrary to the above example is the subtraction of the letter in words which are end in “ar.” This makes “tar” turn into “tah.” This wouldn’t be an issue, except for the fact that “ta” is the abbreviated way to say “thank you,” and I’ve been accused of saying “tar” when I actually say, “ta.” No, no, if I was saying “tar,” I would say “tar”…with an R on the end…
Second, some terms are just different. Plain and simple, not what they are in the US. (Side note: the longer I live here, the more I see how much Americans believe we’re the center of the world. The number of times I’ve thought, “he should be able to understand my accent; it’s American, and that’s normal” is embarrassing) Below is a list, which my momma finds quite entertaining. I hope you’ll feel the same.
- tyre=tire (only the object, not the verb)
- “zed”= Z
- “haytch”= H
- lift= elevator
- pay rise= raise
- ta= thank you
- jumper= sweater
- pay out= make fun of
- pommie= British person
- kiwi= someone from New Zealand
- cinema= movie theatre
- queueing= waiting
- skivvie= tank top
- singlet= tank top
- cami= tank top
- boardies= shorts
- sunnies= sunglasses
- tanty= tantrum
- hossy= hospital
- mozzie= mosquito
- swimmers= swim suit
- bathers= swim suit
- fair dinkum= ???? (still not sure, but it’s on t-shirts)
- bush= the entire middle of the country
- no worries= don’t worry about it
- you’re welcome= very, very formal reply to “thank you”
- that’s fine, or it’s ok= standard reply to “thank you” (I have issues with this one. “That’s fine” seems like a rude reply to me.)
- take away= take out food
- op shop= second hand store
- butternut pumpkin= squash
- GPO= post office
- pay TV= cable, or satellite, channels
There are also plenty of brand name substitutions which are to be expected. If you ever hear me refer to “Woolies,” you now know that this is a grocery store.
Last is the fact that the US is the only nation on Earth that operates outside of the Metric system. While this makes us super special, it has also made this transition to life “Down Under” a little more…irritating. How so, you ask? Well, first, I *never* know what temperature it is. I’ve had to switch the Weather app on my iPhone to Fahrenheit, and back again to Celsius, each day just to try to get an idea. Second, purchasing anything with a weight or volume is now a bit of a guessing game. Is $9.90/kilo a good price for chicken? Should I pay $2.80 for 250 grams of cheese? Is $10/liter highway robbery when buying laundry detergent? Third, I’m forever asking how far away away we are from things, as I still can’t grasp how far a kilometer is, as opposed to a mile. (Just Googled it, and one kilometer is .62 mile. Sweet.) Again, I present a list.
- kilogram (kg)=2.2lb
- 30 degrees Celsius=hot
- 20 degrees C =near ideal
- 15 degrees C= “winter” (it’s about 50 degrees Farenheit… wimps)
- 40 degrees C= I just cooked a steak on the top of the car
- 1 liter= 1 quart (pretty much…)
- 100 km/hr= speed limit
- $16/kg for deli ham= BIG SALE
- $2.50 for 2 cups of mozzarella chz at Aldi=normal
What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve made after moving? How did you deal with it?