<%-- Page Title--%> Musings <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 143 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

February 27, 2004

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Getting Along with
Aussie Culture

Ahmed Imran

“Hauau mite ?", "G'day mite" landing in 'Down Under' these greetings everywhere in a typical Aussie tone will be somewhat new to a stranger as it took some time for me to figure out what this "mite " is. Soon I discovered starting from a young child to a prime minister everyone is addressed as "mate", sometimes even irrespective of genders.

A "fine thank you" answer to the above greetings will again put you in the strangers’ list. I'm still struggling to say "good, thanks" in the Aussie way instead of "fine thank you "which comes first as a natural habit.

The most stunning difference with Asian culture is the equal status of every human being whether he is a plumber or a professor. It's not abnormal for example to find that a top boss of an office taking a cigarette break or coffee break with a cleaner and having good chat on the weather or rugby.

"Nice weather, isn't it?"- This is another typical greeting to start the conversation, be it in a shop, or in a bus on meeting a stranger. I never looked for the reason why they say "No worries " instead of 'welcome' when you thank any one for anything.

So much of twist and turns of English you will find here that you might think a revised Oxford Dictionary is needed. Even a native Englishman from the UK or an American may find Aussie terms and accents a bit peculiar. But over a period of 'time' you get used to Aussie terms (children especially pick up the accent very quickly) and you learn to pronounce “taimh" (not time).

The typical abbreviation and shortening of words is another characteristics of the Aussie brand of English, like

Barbecue-- barbie
Chewing gum -- Chewie
Biscuit-- Bickie
Thank you - Ta
Language-- lingo

The abbreviations are somehow acceptable in the context of saving their costly time, where time is counted by $$$ (otherwise most of the wages here are calculated per hourly basis). But some terms are so unfamiliar that it's hard to see any link with the English Language.

Dinky-di-- genuine
Ute- pick up van
Bewdy- good
Skippy-- Australian born
Dunny- toilet
Shonky- poor quality

Although these appear to be colloquial they are widely used even in radio, TV, talk shows etc. I think that's "fair enough" to give an impression of typical Aussie lingo. I'm sure a hardcore oz (Aussie) will be "cranky!" on me for dissecting his mother tongue in this way. No I don't expect that, rather expect another interesting word to me "goodn'y" (Good on you).

Before I dig out further let me say "Hooroo" (Good bye)……..for today.


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