For many English learners, British English and American English are the best-known varieties of this lingua franca. However, even though everyone knows about Australian English, many people are not aware that they are already using some Australian slang expressions.
A word that you can’t avoid these days actually comes from down under. According to the Oxford dictionary, the word selfie has been named the Word of the Year 2013. You’ve surely said it countless times, but you’ve never wondered where it came from. It will probably come as a surprise that the word selfie comes from Australia – the first recorded example of use of this word is on an online forum. There, Aussie Nathan Hope posted a photo of his lip with a caption that he cut himself while he was drinking on a 21st birthday party of his friend.
This is not the first time that Australian slang has made its way into the general English vocabulary. What’s more, Aussie slang has made a big impact on globally-spoken English. Therefore, it should surprise you that the Oxford Dictionary has started to regularly update their online edition with entries and phrases from Australian English. Up to this moment, around 2,000 words, definitions, and phrases from Australian slang have been entered into the Oxford Dictionary.
Only a small number of Australian slang words has managed to achieve world fame, but they managed to get their way into general use.
Mozzies, greenies, sunnies…
For most speakers of Australian English, the suffix -ie is a big part of everyday speech. Unlike diminutives like birdie or doggie, the -ie in Australian English emphasizes the informal use of the word, but in a way that portrays closeness between speakers who can communicate in this way.
There are countless words ending in -ie in Australian slang:
- Barbecue – barbie
- Present – prezzie
- Sunglasses – sunnies
- Mushroom – mushie
Another frequently used suffix in Australian slang is -o. There are well-known examples like:
- Relative – rello
- Demonstration – demo
- Pregnant – preggo
Australian slang is known for these 2 suffixes, but also for certain abbreviations. Certainly, you heard uni for university many times.
Additional examples of Australian slang that have been accepted into general English are the word mate (friend) and the adjective bloody, which is used for emphasis (a bloody good show).
You’ve also surely heard the term petrolhead for a car-lover, or ratbag for a problematic person. These phrases also stem from Australia.
Think of all the times you used the verb to crash when you meant that you’re going to sleep. The origin of this phrase: you guessed it – Australian English!
As a cherry on top, we present the well-known Australian slang phrase G’day, which is used instead of Hello as a general greeting, and is often followed by: G’day mate!