“I’m keen on it, mate!” – My personal encounters with Aussie slang

As an Asian-American, my origins are ambiguous to those who don’t know me. More than once, I’ve been asked by my Aussie classmates:

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It’s odd to think of myself as the one with the accent, because to me, everyone else has an accent! With the colorful Aussie slang to match.

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Sydney probably isn’t the best place to go if you want to hear that classic Crocodile Hunter accent. Sorry to disappoint: nobody says “crikey” around here. In fact…

Though the accent is understandable, I have encountered some Australian words that I’ve never heard before. For instance, Australians really like to shorten everything.

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Or, the same words will have different meanings here…

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…and different pronunciations.

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When an Australian is interested in doing something, they’ll often say…

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When someone does something good, they’ll get a flurry of:

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If I put on a sweater, I’ll be told:

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Australians aren’t tired, they’re

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And of course, there’s the occasional word that I’ve never heard before in my life.

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The list goes on and on. The Australians really do have their own brand of English! Even if they don’t use all the slang I expected them to:

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Still, it always brightens my day when I hear someone say:

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I think I’m even picking up on some of the terminology!

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I’m going to return to Boston with an impeccable Australian accent, I swear!

16 thoughts on ““I’m keen on it, mate!” – My personal encounters with Aussie slang

  1. LOL I love reading your posts about Australia! I recognise so much from my own experience (friends asking you to bring back a kangaroo or scaring you with pictures of spiders, my friends did that too !!!)

    I love how Aussie slang is about the same in Sydney as in Melbourne, it’s weird because they are so far away from each other Ö
    I can only tell you that the language’ll definitaly stick once you go back home, I still say Uni and Maccas (did you hear that yet? McDonalds) and talk about the Bogans that lived in Melton (suburb where I lived, the first thing they told me about it, was that it was full of bogans :p)

    I don’t know what they say in america, but when they asked me for a rubber in class I was pretty shocked, because to me that’s a condom xD
    And things like “I’m buggered” (tired) and “I’m sicked, pumped” (excited) really confused me, but it grows on you and I can’t imagine speaking any other kind of English anymore (probably because I don’t speak English in my home country so it’s easy to stick to the aussie slang when I speak English :p)

    Keep writing these posts about the land down under, because I love them. It’s nice to find out that the american view on Australians is about the same as the european view (or at least the way you describe everything is very close to what I felt when I was there ^^)

    Enjoy the rest of you time there!!! It’ll be over before you know it…

    • Haha I KNOW that I’ll be telling people that I go to uni and that I’m keen on things when I go back to the States. I picked those two up REALLY fast. I have heard people say Macca’s (I was really confused at first) and then taught them the proper term for McDonald’s: Mickey D’s!

      It’s interesting how different the English is here! Even more interesting is how, every time I point out someone’s Aussie slang, they always react with surprise. Most Aussies don’t even realize that their slang is, well, slang. And my European friends, since they’re not native English speakers, can’t tell whether a term is Australian or American.

      I’m really loving Australia! I can’t believe I’m over halfway done the semester… where is the time going?! D:

  2. My dad still says G’day and Fair Dinkum.

    Also, what’s weird about Nice jumper and Flat White (I’m not much for coffee, so I wouldn’t get it anyway). I say No worries and Good on ya all the time, but I’ve never said I’m keen on it. Well, maybe now and then. It’s not like a thing, though.

    Have you ever heard of The Coathanger (Aussie slang for the Harbour Bridge)? What else… galah? I heard of that in a book. Or goose? My dad says that. They both mean silly person.

    Dunny, Loo = Toilet
    Up the Duff = Pregnant
    Roo = Kangaroo

    Flat out like a lizard drinking = buggered, stuffed, tired
    Carn The Pies = Come on, Collingwood Magpies! (sports team)

    There are probably others I’ve heard…

  3. Hi,
    Sydneysider here, I came across your post while searching for dead and non-Sydney aussie slang.
    I, and so do most realise that a lot of our slang is hard to understand because it requires definition and context, except for two of probably most common sayings (you mention). “How(‘s) ya (it) Going” is a saying that always leaves Americans a bit awe struck, but I don’t see how the connection isn’t made straight to “How you doin,” is it that different or isn’t that a comon greeting? I’m thinking like how Joey from friends used to say so pure assumption on that front.
    As for “No worries,” well a Hakuna Matata haha

    But if you want interesting ones it is probably the words that are completely unique and most Aussies are oblivious to their uniqueness. The only one I can think of is “Ute” (pronounced yoot), that’s sports utility vehicle, truck or something I still don’t exactly know.

    Oh and by the way, did they really ask “Where are you from?” Or was it “What Natio (pronounced Nasho) are you?” The latter is a very Ethnic-Aussie way of asking.

    • Heya!

      In the case of “How’re you going?” I think the initial confusion I had is that I thought I was being asked, “How are you getting to your destination?” You know, bus, walking, etc. After I realized what it actually meant, though, it completely made sense. On the other hand, Americans will always understand if you ask “How’s it going?” It’s the little things, I guess!

      I’ve never actually heard anyone say “ute” or “nasho,” though! That’s a new one on me. Maybe I need to hang around more Aussies!

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