English - as she is spoke

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Marg's Man, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    There's been a few threads recently about the various ways we mangle English in our various dialects.

    Here in Australia English is the official language but many people come here, particularly from non-English speaking backgrounds and end up floundering badly because of the Aussie dialect and use of slang. The main dialect is usually called Strine and sounds NOTHING like any other accent. I once saw a movie length episode of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E" in which one the characters was supposed to be an Australian. That (American) actor's mangling of our accent scarred me for life! I have since heard several other English and American actors attempt to imitate our accent with various degrees of success. The standout success is Meryl Streep for her portrayal of Lindy Chamberlain in the movie "Evil Angels". Lindy had a strange mid-Tasman accent having been born in New Zealand and grown up in Australia.

    What do other accents sound like to your ears?

    Do you think you could understand another one if it is spoken in normal conversation?

    My father told of an old Yorkshireman who worked on his sheep station as a jackeroo who used to say "Wahlla larsse 'er art?" He was actually saying "Will I loose her out?" and meaning "Will I release the mare (from her yard)?"

    About two years ago the Australian Government decided to add a written exam to the Citizenship test for people wishing to become naturalised. Naturally the jokers quickly produce their own spoof version which included a passage of otherwise genuine Australian 'English'. It looked okay to me so I showed it my very multicultural colleagues at work. We all had a great laugh because just about everyone who had spent less than a decade in Australia struggled with it. Marg & I wondered how you would go as you have been exposed to us for a couple of years now.

    Here's the passage from that exam paper. Try it for yourselves. I'll provide a translation the thread goes quiet.

    Translate the following passage:
    In the arvo last Chrissy the relos rocked up for a barbie, some bevvies and a few snags. After a bit of a we opened the pressies, scoffed all the chockies, bickies and lollies. Then we drained a few tinnies. Mum did her block after Dad and Steve had a barney with a bit of biffo.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2008
  2. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    In the [arvo?] last Christmas, the [relos?] arrived for a barbecue, some drinks and a few [snags?]. After chatting, catching up, eating, drinking and generally being merry, we opened the gifts, devoured all of the chocolates, biscuits and lollipops (or would that be popsicles?). Then we had a few beers. Mum lost her temper after Dad and Steve had a big argument with a bit of a punch-up.

    So...how'd I do?

  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    As an added note...given the...erm...mixed-ness of my background, I've had to muddle through my share of unfamiliar accents. Several varieties of Caribbean, a few different flavours of English, the odd New York (ranging from "Lawn Guyland" to Brooklyn), and various and sundry Canadian blends.

    What a hoot!
  4. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Relos = relatives/family???

    Snags = stories???

    Still have no clue on the Arvo part.
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Would arvo be afternoon?
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Wow, Trinity -- I'm impressed!

    I'd vote for arvo=afternoon and relos=relatives and snags=sausages (but I cheated on that one with a little help from google).
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Wow Trinity.

    And I was impressed that I could figure out parts of it. :rofl:
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I have a bit of an advantage with accents as we have hosted several dozen international students, (mostly from Asia) and go to Mexico every year. We also have several French friends. I do notice that I understand what foreigners with a thick accent are saying when others around me don't. I think that it is often because others are not expecting an accent and it takes them a moment or two to process.

    I watch a lot of BBC, so I am comfortable with the various British and British Isles accents, but I haven't been exposed to many Aussie or NZ accents.

    The thing about having a non-native English speaker around is that you realize how much slang you use every day, all of the time. People just learning English learn proper English. We mangle it. Then there are things like "How come?" It's actually kind of fun to figure out how it is that we all know what things like "how come?" mean and where they came from!

    Snags are cigarettes, I think.

    Relos are Relatives.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    husband missed out a word or two - after the relos rocked up they had a chinwag.

    And after lunch they had a spinebash. Except for the pisspots driving the porcelain bus.

    Aah, it's a colourful language!

  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Chinwag I know. That one is in common use among some of my circle.

    I imagine that "Pisspots driving the porcelain bus" is akin to the "technicolour yawn" we used to talk about in university (also known as "praying to the porcelain gods")

    Not quite sure about the spinebash, but I'm imagining some sort of vigorous dancing?
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    "Driving the porcelain bus" IS the same as "technicolour yawn" and also the same as "talking to Ralph on the big white phone".

    Keep trying with "spinebash".

  12. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hmmm...spinebash. It's got lots of possibilities...

    A drive through rugged countryside?
    A nap?
    Hitting each other in the back with sticks?

    (I know I could probably Google it, but I want to figure it out!)
  13. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    It's starting to get quiet here.

    How are you going with spinebash Trinity?
    Hmm, it's 10.35pm Forum time, I'll post the translation sometime tomorrow.
  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    It's quiet because everyone is "taking a nap".
  15. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    Okay that was fun. Here's the translation:

    During the afternoon of last Christmas day some of our relatives visited for drinks over some barbecued sausages. When some time had passed the presents were opened and the chocolates, biscuits and other sweets were eaten. Then everyone drank some more beer. Mother became annoyed when Father and Steven had an aggressive argument which led to blows being traded.

    Marg added the bits I forgot to put in:
    "after the relos rocked up they had a chinwag" meaning "had a general catch up on gossip"
    "And after lunch they had a spinebash. Except for the pisspots driving the porcelain bus."
    which in turns means:
    "After the meal some of them had a sleep except for the those who had drunk too much. They were leaning over the toilet bowl, heaving."

    Trinity you did very well but I claim that you had an unfair advantage. I mentioned work was multi-cultural - it is because I work at the University of Sydney and we get visitors from all over the world. Canadian English seems to be more like Australian than any other group (except of course the Kiwis), heck you even say 'zed' instead of 'zee' for that last letter of the alphabet.

    Mstang climbed aboard Trinity's shoulders and made a good guess with 'relos'

    Andy got arvo

    gcvmom - no fair googling up snags as sausages but Trinity was a "good girl" for resisting Google to get spinebash.

    Witz gets bonus points for cheek, "having a nap". Indeed!
  16. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Marg's Man, thanks for the translation...I was wondering how it would all turn out.

    I agree that Canadian English (and in my case with bits of Brit and Caribbean thrown in just to confuse matters further) seems to be very close. I don't know a lot about Australian slang, but the turns of phrase just seem sort of familiar-ish.

    That was fun!