How you going? The first time we heard that, we stood there with blank looks on our faces. Was the correct answer “Walking” because that was how we were going… But no, the correct answer is “Fine, how you going?” because “How you going?” is the standard Wagga greeting (and maybe other parts of Australia), sort of a hybrid of “How’s it going?” and “How are you doing?”. This is just another one of those words and phrases we have to get used to; here are some more.
No worries. This isn’t just an Australian term, but we think it originated here. It is basically a “You’re welcome” sentiment, similar to the common Canadian phrase “No problem”, but probably also has some grounding in Aussies being the happiest people in the world (don’t worry, be happy). Whenever the uber-perky clerk at The Lawson does something for us, and we thank her, she usually responds with “Too easy”. We think this is either an evolution of “No worries”, or she is telling us she wants us to challenge her with a harder task.
Schooner: Not all of Australia is beach and surf. Wagga is inland, so there are no large boats here. But we do have schooners. A schooner is a traditional measurement of beer in NSW: a 15 oz glass. A smaller glass is a middy (10 oz), while a pint is 20 oz. Thirsty Crow sells its beers in middys, schooners and pints. A schooner is probably a good size for the heavier porter or vanilla milk stout, but on a hot day nothing can beat a pint of their hefeweizen, a spectacular wheat beer infused with Chai tea that has an interesting banana-like flavour. Our membership at Thirsty Crow gets us a discount on pints on Monday nights, but not schooners.
Firie/bikie/postie, etc: Aussies (hmmm, some pattern here?) have a tendency to alter people’s professions/lifestyles by shortening them and then adding “ie”. So a firie is a firefighter. A bikie is a member of a motorcycle gang. A postal worker is a postie… You get the drift. These were recently in articles in the Wagga Daily Advertiser. We aren’t sure what other words might be treated this way, but anything can happen.
Pumpkin: Canadians think of pumpkins at those things that we carve on Hallowe’en and make into pies in the autumn. In Australia, pumpkin is a staple food, eaten all year around. However, we have yet to see any of the big orange ones that we call pumpkins. Here, what Canadians call squash are pumpkins, so there is, for example, butternut pumpkin.
Rego: Pronounced rej-0, not reeg-o. Another one of those condense and add a vowel things (see firie above). They probably do it with other words but this is one that we are encountering. Rego is car registration, known as licensing in Canada. Here, a car is registered (regoed?) for life and the rego passes from owner to owner with the same plates, unlike the Canadian system where you register/license your car, get your number plates and when you sell it you keep your plates and new owner does it themselves. The other big difference is the cost: in Alberta, it was about $85 annually, but in NSW it varies depending on the car and we will probably pay about $500 for a compact car.
Tucker: food. Not sure how much this one is used, but it is used a bit. The morning djs on the local radio station were discussing a ‘Murrumbidgee Master Chef’ competition (to coincide with the hugely popular Master Chef television show), and saying how great it was because they would be judges and get to eat the food. “That’s some good tucker” was how one of them put it. People in the outback carry food in a tucker bag, or maybe a billy (extra points to those of you who can define this one in the comments section!).
Opportunity shop: Just before we left Canada, there were job fairs in Alberta recruiting energy workers to Australia. The economy here is doing quite well, and many might consider it the land of opportunity. When we saw our first “Opportunity Shop” sign, Dan (idiot) thought it was a place where he could just go and get a great job. But no, it is the equivalent of Goodwill or the Salvation Army shops in Canada. Supposedly, the biggest one is called Vinnies. In keeping with the …ie thing, people started calling the St. Vincent de Paul shops Vinnies, and it took so well that they actually formally adopted the name. There isn’t a Vinnies in Wagga that we have seen, but there are ones for the local hospital, churches, etc. We are actually going to shop there a bit; it is a perfect way for us to buy a few dishes, flatware, maybe some pots, to get us through to when our container arrives. We figure we can spend about $20 on kitchen and dining necessities, then just give the stuff back in a month or so when we don’t need it.
So, we are getting used to the language. It isn’t really that hard, just takes a bit of quick thinking to figure out how the Aussies have converted the Queen’s English into their own version. Some terms are British, not used in North America, but we are used to those from travel and also having friends from there. So calling red, yellow and green peppers ‘capsicum’ is easy to understand. And knowing what chuffed means…
But, there is one term that we have heard a couple of times that is almost completely incomprehensible to us. Maybe some day, we will understand it, but for now we just let our eyes glaze over whenever we hear the phrase “yes, you can grow citrus in your back yard.” That’s not a sentence we’ve ever heard before, but we think we will like getting to know what it means!
Search terms of the week: crazy bugs in Alberta, Mr Rogers kicks, container number images. Ok, so the last one isn’t that interesting, but who is looking for something like that?