Foreign Perspective: How to Speak Like an Aussie

If you’ve ever studied abroad, then you know what it’s like to be submerged in an entirely foreign culture. But have you ever wondered what it’s like on the flip side of the experience – what it’s like for someone going abroad to America? Join columnists Amy Chilcott, of Australia, and Kasumi Hirokawa, of China, as they encounter all things American and Penn State – and tell it as they see it the way only one with a foreign perspective can.


You know those times when you go to another country, say something and receive blank stares in return? Even in English-speaking countries, language can vary greatly. I recently learnt what a “handle” was, and just had to Google the word “hoagie.” I’ve found that Americans love a bit of Aussie slang (Mike the Mailman enjoys a good ol’ Aussie “see ya later, mate!” when I see him at the post office), so here’s my “how to” guide for speaking like a true blue Aussie.


The closest word I can think of to describe ‘mate’ is ‘friend’. ‘Mate’ is a little more complex than that, though, because your friends are mates, but people that you would call ‘mate’ are not necessarily your friends. Still following?  In Australia, everyone is your mate. You would say “hey, mate” or “how ya goin’, mate?” to people that you’ve never met before (these people aren’t your friends). You also use the term ‘mate’ to refer to friends. If I accidentally say “hey, mate” to you while I’m here, please don’t give me the awkward response of “I’m not your mate.”

True blue / Dinky-di (din-key die) / Fair dinkum (fair din-kum)

All these words mean that something is true, real or genuine. “True blue Aussie” would mean something along the lines of “genuine Australian”.

Bogan (bo-gan)

Australians describe bogans to Americans as “like rednecks, but worse.” Quite simply, bogans are some of the scariest people you’ll meet. If you know what a ‘chav’ is in England, then you’ll sort of know what a bogan is. Bogans often swear profusely and live in the Australian poverty cycle (no education, having kids at a young age, living in government housing, no job, collecting government money).

Throwing some snags on the barbie

Snags are sausages and a barbie is a barbeque. If you “throw some snags on the barbie” it basically means you’re having a barbeque.

Flaming galah! (Flay-min’ gah-lah)

This phrase was made popular by Alf Stewart on “Home & Away”.  If someone is a “flaming galah” they are a fool, or stupid.

Photo by Jonathan Hsieh


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