In Joyful Strines

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About a month ago, the Internet decided to have a mental fart over Australian slang. It’s happened before. If we wade back into the murky depths of YouTube’s history, we can see ‘Learn Aussie Slang’ videos gaining anywhere between 300,000 and 2,000,000 views. For some ridiculous reason, the world is fascinated with the very-difficult-to-say-and-listen-to-let-alone-comprehend language we Aussies speak: ‘Strine’.


After engaging in some fair dinkum hard yakka searching, I actually started to get a bit concerned about the interest we as a nation have internationally attracted, simply for adding ‘o’ to the end of shortened words.

It’s not just the curiosity that worries me, though; it’s the apparent need to explain phrases that I think are quite self-explanatory. Take the Daily Mail Australia, for example. In an article published in March earlier this year, the newspaper kindly collated a number of Tweets using the hashtag ‘#AussieSayings’. Some I recognised.

Some I even used.

Translation: It will be okay.



And some I have never, nor will I ever, use.

Translation: Very dry or thirsty.

The thing I liked best about this article though, apart from their inclusion of a Tweet that uses pretty nifty alliteration, was their apparent need to ensure that everyone was on the same page about what these Tweets meant. I mean, I could kind of get on board with not understanding what a “dead dingo’s donger” is, but surely you can’t confuse this one.

As an Australian who doesn’t use this phrase, and really hasn’t heard it ever used in general conversation, I am confused as to how this could mean anything but the translation. Consider a ‘dropped pie’.

How does this evoke confusion? Unless ‘dropped pies’ look profoundly different in Europe or are some sort of American innuendo, I feel like it must be pretty self-explanatory. Or maybe people overseas are not as strong in the lateral thinking department? Daily Mail, at least, felt the need to hold everyone’s hand during the learning process by providing explanations that are three times longer than the given phrase.

I feel like Australia has somewhere along the line become a human study, a linguistic culture so interesting and ~unique~ that there must be a ~deeper~ level to this oft-spoken three-worded phrase.

 

Spoiler: we’re just lazy.

There is no deep-rooted meaning where the use of antithetical exclamations represents the binary nature of the human psyche. We’re not a damn Shakespeare play. The phrase just means: yes but not rly.

 

Yeah, no. Not profound.

 

Add to the laziness our reliance on sarcasm – oft revered as wit’s lowest form – and I guess I can understand why Aussie lingo tends to trend. The dream to learn lazy, witless speech is both big and achievable. In fact, there are literally over a million websites (1.21 mil, to be exact) with articles, videos and ‘Learn To’ guides specifically designed to help you learn the wonders of the Australian tongue.

 

My personal favourite is Howcast’s comprehensive database, ‘Australian Slang Translator’. 

With 40 videos – all 35-45 seconds long – that teach key skills in pronunciation, denotation and contemporary use, you’ll understand tough Aussie lingo, such as ‘esky’, ‘brekky’ and ‘bottle shop’, in just two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

 

Only some things we’ll keep to ourselves. 

Because we have no idea either. 

 

By Cassey Coleman