7 ways to speak Aussie English or how to sound like an Australian Person
by James Arthur Warren
Yaama. This is the greeting of the Gamilaraay Nation. Bunda. That’s Gamilaraay for kangaroo.
What does it mean to “Speak Australian”? What does it mean to be Australian? The people living on the Continent of Australia are of many different nations. The land is a true rainbow of nations with hundreds of First Nations and hundreds of Settler Nations all mixed up and all living together. The People of the Continent of Australia are plurinational but our identity can be best understood from the way we communicate with each other. The everyday language that is commonly used in Australia has egalitarian undertones with words like “mate” and “darl” that imply everyone is equal and respected.
Before I continue I want to acknowledge the Yuggera and Turrbal people as the traditional custodians of the land on which I write this blog post. This place I live in South Brisbane, was once called Woolloongabba. I also want to acknowledge all the ancestors past, the aunties and uncles, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters living in the present and descendents in the future.
As an English as a Second Language teacher I have had many requests from migrants how to improve their pronunciation to sound more like a local. I have put together this short list of what I think are the 7 common things that Aussies say when they use their version of the English language.
Here are 7 simple ways that you can start using today to sound more Aussie when speaking Australian English. You can hear me say these things in the video below.
- G’day: This is a contraction of the words “good” and “day”
- Mate and Darl’: Mate is a word that signifies mutual respect and can be used with any male. Darl is short for “darling” and is usually used by women or for women.
- How ya goin’? This is the standard Aussie greeting and is a short from of “How are you going?”
- Cheers and Ta: These two words are often used in the place of “thank you.” However “cheers” can also be used as a goodbye.
- Shorten words and names then add a -y -ie or -o: Examples are breakfast=brekkie, biscuits=bickies afternoon=arvo, arvi or arv, push bike= pushie, chocolate-chockie, Steven=Stevo Wayne=Wayno. These forms of language are called diminutives and Aussies use them more than any other speakers of English and over 4300 have been recorded in our lexicon.
- Yous and Yas: Many Aussies have adopted the use a plural form of the word “you” by adding an “-s” at the end. This helps to avoid confusion about who you are addressing in conversation and is especially useful to address or say goodbye to a group of people collectively. E.g. “See yas later.”
- Deadly: This word is an adjective meaning awesome or very good and has origins and came into common use as a positive adjective by the First Nations’ people
Check out this video to help you understand how to use these Aussie words and phrases.
Comment added: I have been in English as a second language teacher for 13 years. In this time I have learned that it suits to be able to communicate in a single language because it promotes understanding. How we must preserve languages of all cultures because they carry knowledge that some languages don’t carry. It is absurd to insist that people who live in Australia speak English however it would be foolish not to speak English at the same time we must allow people to speak their own language because this allows them to preserve their culture and sense of identity. So when I lived in China with my family, of course I spoke English at home. I spoke Mandarin in public and in the streets I tried my best which gained me acceptance, respect and many Chinese friends. My youngest son, his mother is French is also becoming is bilingual because it is important for him to understand the roots of his ancestry as well as the cultural norms that are incorporated into language. Having more than one perspective allows him then to be discerning between the two cultures and choose the best out of both worlds. What is most important is avoiding is ethno-centrism and dictating that other cultures adopt your way of living. This is what colonisation did and continues to do in Australia. Thus unfortunately we now have a ridiculous situation where we have the indigenous people being told “speak English this is Australia.”
If there is anything I’ve learnt in 13 years of English as a second language teaching and having taught over 100 nationalities, it is this. The plurinational nature of the people living on this continent all have something positive to offer that we all can learn from and this richness and diversity of culture, languages and intercultural exchange should be encouraged for it allows intercultural understanding and positive societal change. However most important is that the First Languages are preserved so that the cultural knowledge of the ancestors can be passed on to the next generation because we can all benefit from a better understanding of the sustainable and gentle way the First Nations people lived and their cultural wisdom.
Nukinya. that’s how Kooris say see yas later.
My name is James Arthur Warren and my dream is to build a mobile school teaching lifestyles of health and sustainability. This all takes money so you can help me help by donating to James’ Blue House Free Schools crowdfunding campaign at Gofundme.
If you would like to read more about Aussie slang and sound more like an Aussie then follow these links: