Learning the lingo - Monocolumn | Monocle


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11 December 2013

Through a coincidence my life has got a whole new vibe. All of a sudden my home has become partly Australian territory with an Aussie twang in the air, something I had only previously encountered on the TV series Neighbours. This is all thanks to my new Australian flatmate.

The evolution of languages never ceases to surprise me. They change all the time – even in specific regions people come up with their own expressions and slang. As languages develop they reflect the societies and the culture where they are used.

Based on the assumption that languages are mirrors of society I am not quite sure what to think of Australians, at least from what I have learned so far. Certainly it seems that they like their slang. I have already found many expressions I like that can come in handy.

Take “Woop Woop” for example. This expression would work well to describe where I come from and where my relatives still live. Like: “It's miles away, somewhere out the back of Woop Woop.”

Obviously you also have expressions that can be seen as offensive such as “drongo”, which could be translated as an idiot, or “bludger”, a lazy person. I also quite like the word “ropeable” as an expression to describe someone being very angry. And “chook” is a good one when you are tired of using the more traditional word: chicken.

These are just a few of the expressions I have learned. I am now trying to memorise them for my future Sydney holiday, where I want to use them “heaps”.

I love how Australian expressions are so often related to social interaction; what foreigners see is a bit of a sense of humour and a lot of creativity. The language almost works as a business card for Australians.

Inspired by this I did a bit of research of my own language. Well, Finnish doesn’t seem to have that many expressions that are inspired by social situations. Instead, as Eskimos, we have dozens of words to describe different forms of snow. And quite a few words that describe being intoxicated. I guess that says something about my culture, too.

Anyhow, this language crash course has convinced me to head Down Under for my next holiday. I can’t wait to see some of my friends over a couple of tinnies and ask, “How’s it going, old cobbers?”

Marcus Hippi is a presenter and producer for Monocle 24.


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