Thursday, February 16, 2012

Did you mean what I think you said?

 PhD Misunderstood
Sometimes there are things people say here in Australia that don't translate. And there's things that I say which they don't understand. Those are all fine. We might not understand each other, but at least I'm not going to misuse them on accident - inadvertently converting an innocent US word into an extremely "disreputable" Australian phrase.

If you know me very well, you will know that it is nigh impossible to get a dirty word to cross my lips. Why? Well there's a reason they call them dirty words people! They feel nasty-pants on the way out! And then of course there's the word that technically isn't dirty but for some reason still feel it is when I say/hear it. This naturally means whenever Rob & Co. want to be particularly hilarious, they say that word approximately three thousand times over the course of the evening. Grrrr. It is amazing how often it fits into conversation. And if you don't know what the word it is, I'm not telling you, because then I'll only have more people to torture me. But I disgress.

The problem is there are several words that seem oh so cute and cuddly in American English, but are somewhat less appropriate here in Australia.

The "Do Not Say" List:

Date - While still used in the american sense (I think anyway), can also be used to describe the bit of the human body so loved by Sir-Mix-A-Lot. A "date roll" is another term for toilet paper.
Doodle - Not sure if they ever use this to refer to drawing/sketching, but they definitely do use it to refer to a certain portion of the male anatomy. Sigh. So long Doodle Poll - it was good while it lasted.
Fanny Pack - These were such a bad idea to begin with, it's probably a good thing the term is indecent here, like it is in the U.K.
Pissed -  This simply means "drunk" ... not so bad, but could lead to awkward moments depending on how/in whose company you used it.
Root - In Australia you NEVER root for your team, unless you are extremely promiscuous.

Then, on the other hand there are things they say commonly here that would mean something slightly different in the U.S.

"I'm going to knock up Lisa tomorrow" (Translation: I'm going to call her up/look her up)
"Everyone get out your rubbers!" (Translation: Please get out your erasers.)

Some days, it seems like we might understand each other best if we didn't say anything at all.


  1. Nice!

    I know when I spent some time in Ireland the same mis-translations occurred. I started writing down the differences in a notebook, so my fam and I could laugh at them later. The main confusion happened over the use of 'pants'. That was an awkward moment....

  2. I visited Sydney a few years ago and fell in love with it. Someday if I'm lucky I'll do so but I'm not counting on it. If I do I will at least know not to "root" for my rugby team.



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