Thursday, August 26, 2010

Flat out like a lizard drinking

It took me a while to get used to the Aussie accent. When one listens to it in a film, what is spoken is a more 'pure' type of accent, but in real life... depending on the individual who is speaking; you can find yourself squinting, and turning your ear toward the person, in attempt of somehow activating the universal translator you think you have in your head, which will aid in the fine tuning of the gibberish which is being uttered in your direction.

Once I acclimated and became comfortable with holding long conversations with Australians, I began hitting another social wall. Sayings... everyday expressions describing a situation with slang. The first one my husband and I were privy in hearing, even before stepping foot on Australian soil, was on i.m. with a future co-worker, who commented on the rarity of a good Chardonnay in the land down under. He wrote: "A good Chardonnay is rarer than hen's teeth." We chuckled at this statement, and even analyzed it a bit. Yes, it is true that hens/chickens do not have teeth, therefore his statement indicated that Chardonnay is VERY rare, one may even venture in stating that it is IMPOSSIBLE to find a good Chardonnay in Australia.

As time progressed, we would compare notes with each other, about who had heard the funniest or most creative expression to date. My husband came home with a good one (in our opinion... but Aussies thought it nothing special); spoken by a re-location expert when my husband stated that we would be interested in either an apartment or a house to rent: "Well! That's just chalk and cheese then." Which left him speechless. Unable to figure out what she meant by the statement, he finally gave in, and asked the woman to explain... she wasn't amused, but explain she did. Apparently it means: "Well! Those are two totally different things." Meaning, CHALK may look like CHEESE but once tasted, you can tell that they're different things.

Though the creative expressions are-a-plenty, it seems that they are considered an endangered species of sorts. TV programs and films from abroad, particularly from the US have become favorites among the masses, and especially the youth; consequently influencing the local language.

The word MATE means BUDDY, but one can hear the ladder just as much as MATE spoken by young people. This has some individuals upset, as they feel that their language is special and merits to be preserved just the way it is. I think this is a valid point, but do think it's also funny that, at the same time as they are demanding to keep their saying alive, they frown upon the people who speak in that manner.

A perfect example is Paul Hogan's character Crocodile Dundee's accent and manner of speaking. The moment that an Ozzie (generally speaking) is reminded of this character from the popular movie by the same name from the 80s, they cringe and scoff at the fact that anyone may think that Australians speak like that in real life. Their attitude toward this world-loved character, who has brought more tourists to this continent than anyone else in its history, is shame. It's sad, but true. Shame, that he is the 'poster child' for Australia. Well, I still like you Crocodile Dundee, and I still say... "That's not a noyf (knife)! THIS is a noyf!" as I start chopping my herbs before cooking with my gigantic butcher knife.

I have adopted another beauty of a saying: "I'm flat out like a lizard drinking" meaning "I'm soooooo busy!" Aussies get it, and I feel as if I have just made a statement in Mandarin, and native Chinese people have understood me.

Click below to read more about some great expressions, and what people are saying about the endangered Aussie lingo.

Last hurrah for Australian lingo from long ago

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