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Since moving from Australia to London, I have been amazed at just how big the language barrier between myself and the British is. London-english (or Londglish as I have started calling it) is a whole new language to me.
I honestly never thought it would be an issue, in fact I have a very clear memory of my mum saying “Well, at least you’ll speak the language” when I told her I was moving to London. You were wrong mum, you were wrong.
There have been a number of incidents where I have had to use my ‘polite laugh’ to get me out of awkward social situations involving terms like Womble, Jedward, TOWIE or Vajazzle (I Google-imaged that last one and got a nasty surprise).
Then there are times when I say something as I normally would only to be met with horrified looks and later learn that those words mean something entirely different here i.e. “I think I’ll just wear pants and a top” (Pants in Londglish means underwear) or “I’m just wearing my thongs to work tomorrow” (Thongs in Londglish means g-string). That last one also raises the awkward question of why I would wear two at one time.
Slowly I am being taught how to speak Londglish, and in the process I am teaching my British colleagues how to speak Australian or ‘strayan’, as it should really be pronounced. Here are the first few words I’ve imparted on Britain:
Cactus: Unless specifically referenced (i.e. “Look at that cactus”) Australians do not use the word Cactus to refer to a plant. It means dead or not functioning – “Sarah, the washing machine’s cactus!” Another word used to describe the death of something is Cark (from Carcass) – “Sarah, the washing machine’s carked it”.
Cockroach: A derogatory term used to describe a person who lives in New South Wales (i.e. Sydney).
Bonza: Meaning ‘good’ or ‘great’ – “Oh Shaz, that was a Bonza steak!”
Yobbo: An uncouth person, similar to Chav – “Oh god, who invited the yobbo”
Roadie: A beer or other alcoholic beverage you take with you to consume en route – “We’re leaving for the concert now, should we grab a roadie?”
Most of our Australianisms are nonsensical and involve a lot of vowels, but to us they’re more than just words, they’re our identity. Stay tuned for the next instalment.
Have you encountered the same language related issues as I have? What words or phrases have you struggled with? Ever had an embarrassing language barrier experience? tell me about it in the comments box!