Sometimes, Australian Slang causes problems. Every Aussie uses it. When you’re born here, the meaning of those strange, shortened words are absorbed by osmosis. We are hardly even cognizant we’re saying them. We assume everyone understands what we mean.
However, being so different to standard English words, the Australian Vernacular makes it difficult for non-native English speakers to understand, especially for those whose exposure to English has only been within the classroom, or via TV sit-coms. The full meaning of slang is often lost.
Mail Order Brides in Australia
Before the days of Tinder and dating agencies becoming mainstream, older single or widowed Aussie men might meet a prospective wife via a newspaper ad and through letters from The Philippines. Mail Order Brides wasn’t a nice social practice, but this story is not so much about that issue, as it is about the language barrier where slang is concerned.
The Moth’s (Man of the House), elderly Aunt had been divorced from her husband, Bob for some time, even though he still attended family gatherings. As Bob aged, he longed for company, so no one was particularly surprised when a delightful older lady, named Mary, accepted his offer to leave the Philippines, marry him and live in Australia.
Australia Day Family Barbeque
One Australia Day, Mary and Bob attended a family barbeque not far from their new home. Most of the farmers in the area were also extended family members, so Bob introduced his new wife to the family and also to country hospitality: ie barbeque food: meat, sausages, pavlova and loads of Beer. Very traditional, if you are Australian.
A few hours later, it was clear to all that Mary’s new husband had consumed far too many beers to drive either of them home.
Lost in Translation
As Mary was impatient to leave, she started walking home along the long, dusty road, herself. As she went to leave, an approaching car pulled over. Leaning out the car window, a neighbouring farmer shouted:
“Where ya headed, luv?”
“I go home,” Mary answered, eyes a little downcast. Guessing she was the newcomer who lived at least a half hour’s walk away, the old farmer flashed a big grin and said:
“Come with me, luv. I’ll run you over.”
Terrified, with eyes as big as saucers, Mary turned around and dashed back to her husband’s side, crying,
“I not want to die. He kill me.”
Aghast and confused, Bob stuttered, “Steady on, luvie ….Whad, whadya mean?“
Pointing to the farmer’s car, Mary said:
“I not want to die. He said, He’d run me over!”
That’s ‘Straya,’ mate!