In the 200 odd years since settlement, Australian English and British
English have drifted apart. Words that met an untimely death in the old
country have remained alive in Oz . New words have been invented. I'll
stick to words and phrases that are so deeply entrenched that I have to
remind myself that my British and North American friends might not
understand what I'm saying. I hasten to add that I was born in the UK
and retain some memory of how English was spoken in that country.
Ocker: vulgar speech: sometimes faked by middle-class Australians
pretending to come from working-class backgrounds: developed to perfection
by former Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. Based on Oscar, a vulgar
little larrikin in a 1960s TV series.
Larrikin: boisterous, often badly behaved young man. 19th century English
Galah: Stupid person. After the rosy cockatoo, famed for hanging upside
down in the rain.
Tucker: food. From early 19th century British slang.
Mate: Used by people trying to be friendly and people with a bad memory for
Thongs: sandals, flip-flops. Not to be confused with the North American "G-
Wowser: censorious person. Used of killjoys trying to stop you having a
Dunny: toilet. From Scottish dialect.