Wednesday, February 10, 2010


People have asked me repeatedly: what is the main difference between Australia and the US? Everyone asks friends in the States, Rotarians in Perth, random strangers who find out that I'm from the US, the guy who runs the bellydancing studio where I taught a class two weeks ago. Everyone wants to know what I think, and I'll tell you: nothing like Steve Irwin, so you can just get that out of the way right now.

They don't sound like Crocodile Dundee either, although one of the kids at the College I work at described in graphic detail the methods he uses with his machete to kill the cane toads that infest his farm up near the Northern Territories. "I toss them in the air and try to cut them in half," he said, with a peculiarly flat affect. If you don't hear from me for a while, it's because he's keeping me in a basement and he's hacked off all my limbs.

Mostly, the main thing that Australians are easily identified by, the one thing that would make it obvious to everyone that they were Australians, aside from their cute accents, is this: shortening everything. Everything has a cute nickname in Australia, including your food, your friends, and your times of day. They shorten placenames ("Fremantle" becomes "Freo", "Victoria Park" becomes "Vic Park", "Subiaco" becomes "Subi") and peoplenames ("Sharon" becomes "Shazza", "Daniel" becomes "Dazza", "Bob" becomes "Bazza" get the drift).

They shorten documentaries ("doccies") and presents ("pressies") and sandwiches ("sangers"). A utility vehicle, which is what Americans would call a pickup truck, is a "ute". The afternoon is the "arvo". Breakfast is "brekky." Americans are "morons for electing George Bush." Okay, I made up that last one.

Also, Australian humor is significantly more subtle and wry than North American humor; they think our witticisms are similar to Harpo and Groucho falling down the stairs: obvious, tasteless, and overdone. A lot of Australian humor relies on sarcasm, irony, and witty repartee, which makes me very happy, as I established with Justin when we were Skyping today that I am funnier than he is because I deliver punchlines faster. Like when you put down one meal in front of three teenaged boys: the fastest one eats the most. So Australian humor suits me fine.

In sad but further news: my camera is currently broken. I am trying to fix it so I can update you with stunning pictures of my local area and the Target and the Hungry Jack's, which is what Burger King had to call themselves when they got here because "Burger King" was already trademarked by some random Australian guy. Also the bubble tea place right down the street, where I am trying to see how long it will take before I fill up my intestines entirely with sago. Which is what Australians call tapioca pearls.

Did I mention all the money has little see-through windows? How cool is THAT?

1 comment:

Sharp11Girl said...

Maybe you just type faster than him...Challenge me to a battle of wit!