Tuesday 15 October 2013

He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich

Earlier in the week, Skip and I were sitting around listening to music. It's Eid at the moment which means everyone has the week off, so we were feeling a little celebratory. We had the music loud, knowing that before long our Saudi neighbours would have their own tunes blaring.

It hit me as we were listening to an old Triple J Hottest 100 album how comforting it is to hear your own accent and colloquialisms. How the way we say things and the way we use language is such an integral part of our identity, our voice (pardon the pun).

When we first moved here we had a BBQ with some Canadian friends, Skip yelled out: "Can you put the stubbies in the esky, I'm just going to chuck some snags on the barbie." Our guest just stared at Skip, certain he was speaking another language.

It goes both ways too, when an Irish friend asked if I could: "push her baby in the buggy", Goose was amazed that the baby could ride a boogie board! And when the same friend told me that something was "deadly" I didn't know if that was a good or bad thing (it's a very good thing, by the way).

I'm finding I'm often having to change words that I would say. If the girls ask for a lemonade, they end up with a lemon juice not the Sprite or 7-up they wanted. Ask for tomato sauce for your snag and you'll get a strange look,"Do you mean ketchup?". Don't even think about requesting a chook!

The girls are always making comments like "we say thongs, Lorna says flip-flops" or "why do you call it a rubber when my teacher calls it an eraser?". I'm always saying to them: "it's lollies, not candy" or "it's maths, not math", "it's a rubbish bin, not a dustbin or a trash can". Sometimes I'm fighting a losing battle, but I want them to speak Aussie, even if it's said in their mish-mash British/American/Irish/Filipino/Australian accent. (They're not alone, their Irish friend apparently speaks Irish Gaelic with a Filipino accent much to his family's amusement.)

It's all those little Australian slang words that can be just so comforting when you're far from home. I'm not someone who wears my national pride on my sleeve, I'm not going to be wearing the Australian flag as a cape anytime soon or chanting "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi". But, it's great to hear Australian accents in songs (we were listening to some Aussie hip hop last night) and on screen.

Listening to The Drugs' song The Bold and The Beautiful, they've turned something completely American in to an Aussie experience.

"Each afternoon there's nothing else suitable, Tea and bikkies with the Bold and the Beautiful."

We then listened to Butterfingers, 1200 Techniques, You Am I and the Hilltop Hoods all with their unique Aussie sound. It was like sitting back in a comfy old arm chair.

"470 to Circular Quay and ticket in his pocket for the TAB"

I'm not homesick, but sometimes it's nice to hear people who "speak-a my language".

What songs take you home?


  1. So true!! Piper has a fabulous Aussie/Filipino/American accent happening at the moment and much to my dismay I have given up on the candy battle :(
    I went to a BBQ over Eid with a few other Aussie families and a large assortment of others - when the host stepped outside with a salad involving chinese cabbage and proceeded to open a packet of Changs noodles all the Aussie women pounced on her from nowhere demanding to know where she got them from.... the scene stopped the BBQ as everybody tried to work out what was wrong with the Aussie women we were so loud. Unfortunately she had smuggled 12 packets back on her last trip and this was the last packet :(

    1. Mmmm Changs noodles. How funny is it that those little pieces of home can stop you in your tracks. Some days I would kill for a packet of Chicken Twisties or a Chokito bar and I barely ever had them in Oz. x


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