If there’s one thing that characterises the way Australians speak, more than anything, I’d say it would have to be their use of abbreviations. Australians, or should I say Aussies, love shortening as many words as possible and it seems anything goes.
I first became aware of this while working with Aussies at a dairy farm. ‘Arvo’ would be used instead of ‘afternoon’, ‘preg’ testing instead of ‘pregnancy’ testing, and a calf born ‘premature’ would be called the ‘preemie’.
Once you become aware of it you start to hear these abbreviations everywhere, especially if you watch TV or listen to the radio. ‘Musicians’ are referred to as ‘musos’, ‘jelly’ is the word used for ‘jealous’, and I’ve even heard journalists call ‘politicians’ ‘pollys’!
Coming from Northern Ireland, abbreviations are nothing new to me. We do abbreviate words, both in NI and the rest of the UK, but just not to the same extent. Back home we talk about going to ‘uni’ (university), and there’s nothing better than throwing on a comfy pair of ‘trackies’ (tracksuit bottoms), but generally we use the full word and things aren’t shortened too often.
So coming to Australia and learning the lingo has been a bit strange for me, and it’s still something I’m getting my head around. I can only imagine how hard it must be for someone whose first language isn’t English.
But don’t worry, I’ve done a bit of research and this whole abbreviation thing isn’t as complicated as it first seems, there’s even a bit of a system to it. Below I’ve listed abbreviations I’ve come across along with guidelines on how to apply them:-
Cut off the end of the word and add “ie”, “i” or “y” (the most popular way)
|Greenie||Environmentally Friendly Person|
|Sickie||Sick day off work|
Cut off the end of the word and add “o”
|Arvo||Afternoon (‘r’ not pronounced)|
|Smoko||Smoke break at work|
|Wino||Person who likes wine|
On the odd occasion add an “a”
|Cupa||Cup of tea|
Sometimes just generally shortening the word, maybe stick on an “s”
I’ve been in Australia for 8 months now, and although I’ve grasped what the Aussies are on about when they use these words (most of the time), I still haven’t brought myself to start using them. I swear my dairy farm boss gives me a confused look when I say “afternoon” rather than “arvo”, but it just doesn’t feel natural to me. I’ll say the abbreviation in my head, but when I open my mouth, the full word just comes out. But whether I use them or not, every time I hear a new abbreviation it makes my day.
Do you have any abbreviations I can add to the list? Or anything else that stands out about the way Australians speak? Would love to hear about it 🙂