Before I came to Pakistan I had travelled a bit but not extensively. I was born and raised in Melbourne, which is an amazing city down the bottom right of Australia. In fact, for the last seven years it has been voted the most liveable city in the world. But living in Melbourne meant I had to fly on a plane for about five hours just to get out of the country, then a further few hours over the ocean until you come towards land. So as an Australian in the 90s and 00s we just used to holiday within our great land. We have tropical areas, snowy mountains, deserts, rainforests, sun, surf and snow. What more could one ask for? But when we did travel overseas we loved going somewhere not too far, which most Australians would do. This recently got me thinking that most places I went before I came to Pakistan were either with Australians or frequented by them and that never allowed me to sit back and really listen to Australians speak. It wasn't until I started travelling around the world and came to live in another country that i realised, Australians have their own language. For all my life I thought we spoke English and that any English speaking person could completely understand me but I was very wrong. Australians speak Australian. And don't get me wrong this is not a bad thing at all, it's just that not many Aussies know this. We all assume that everyone knows what we mean when we talk. Okay, let me give you an example. When Australians want to say: "Hello, how are you?", we actually say "Hi, how ya going?” So when I came to Pakistan and I was introduced to someone, I would ask them how they were going and always received the weirdest look from the other person. At the time I didn't know that my question caused confusion.
When Aussies say goodbye we don't say goodbye, instead, we say: "See ya later". So imagine me running around town telling people I'm going to see them later rather than saying goodbye. I once went to a shop and bought a present for my niece. I told the shop keeper, "Thank you and see you later." The shop keeper replied, "Ok. Is there something else I can help you with?” I again said, "No thank you, I'll see you later", while the very confused shop keeper responded, "Madam we will be closing and I won't be here later". It all hit me then why this lady was getting so confused. Because I kept telling her I would see her later when I had absolutely no intention to come back to the store. If an Australian asks you: "What do you reckon?" They are actually asking you what you think about something.
We abbreviate our words to make them shorter. We then shorten our sentences and give everything a nickname. And if you get a nickname by an Australian, consider that a gesture of endearment. If your name is Robert and we call you Robbo then you know we like you. When I first met my eldest son, his name is Taimur but I called him Tee. He couldn’t understand why I had to shorten his name until I explained to him that it's a way of expressing closeness to a person we love by shortening their name or giving them a unique nickname. Before I got married my last name was Thompson, so most people called me Thomo. We even tend to do it with most things on a daily basis. Such as McDonalds is Maccas, breakfast is breakie, friend is mate, gift is a prezzie, sandwich is a sanger, ambulance is ambo, dinner is tea, football is footy, and so on. We refer to music as tunes, tomato sauce is dead horse, barbie means BBQ, down the street means you are going to the shops, when something is terrific we say grouse or good on ya, choccas means full, no drama means no problem. Then imagine putting all these words together to make a sentence. "Hey mate, how ya going, let's go down the street and grab some breakie before the shops get choccas or we can fire up the barbie with some snags, see ya later."
We also take things quite literally and keep it simple. When we name things it usually describes them. If someone has red hair we will call them ‘red’ or instead, we will call them ‘blue’. When naming animals we name them according to their description. A green frog that lives in trees is called a green tree frog. A spider with red colour on its back is called a red back spider, while a black snake that has a red coloured stomach is called a red belly black snake.
So next time you meet an Aussie and you want to have a laugh try a few of these words or gestures with them, they will really appreciate it!