I have yet to hear anyone in Australia say “Oy.” But Carlos and I have been picking up some legitimate slang in Hobart and thought we’d share our findings so that if and when you come to visit, you’ll be ready.
Let’s start with “look.” This won’t sound like “slang” to the newly arrived American ear. At first you might think that whomever is speaking to you is just opinionated and is offering you, the newbie, some important instructions. But sub out the American use of the word “well” and you’ll begin to understand how Aussies use “look.” Example:
Paige: Should we take the 6:40 ferry or the 7:10?
Abby: Look, if you want to see the sunset I would hop on the 6:40.
Paige: Great. Can we pick-up anything for dinner?
Abby: Look, I’ll swing by the store this morning and grab everything but if I forget an item I’ll give you a call.
Paige: Sounds like a plan. I hope you aren’t too exhausted at the end of your long day!
Abby: Look, I just have two meetings and a few errands and a hair appointment and a conference call and a pilates class and a six course dinner to cook. No worries!
No worries! Truth: for about three years at Brown I rolled my eyes when Aussie Claire said, “No worries.” I wasn’t worried! Why was she saying that!? It wasn’t until I fully appreciated her Aussieness that I understood she meant “no problem,” or “you’re welcome.” Now I say “no worries” like it’s my job. And if you think about it, “you’re welcome,” doesn’t make any sense either. So who was I to judge?
Flat out: Busy. Ex: I’d like to leave work early but I’m flat out with all these bikes to repair.
Under the pump: Busy. Ex: I was under the pump at the bar yesterday when a group of fifteen women showed up and ordered cocktails. It’s a whisky bar but clearly they didn’t get that.
Cooked: Hungover/tired. Ex: After climbing the 5,000 feet up to Mount Wellington this morning I was cooked for the rest of the day.
Stuffed: Spent. Ex: I was stuffed after ten hours at the bar and just as I was about the close, twelve boogans walked in.
Boogan: Hoodlum. Ex: There aren’t many boogans in Hobart but cross the river into Brighton via bus and you’ll find yourself on boogan turf. Teenage babymamas and punks showing off their studded belts and saggy jeans.
Scooner vs Pot: Still can’t tell you the difference. It’s a size of beer and one is bigger than the other but both on the petite size. Don’t order one from me or I’ll give you a look that says, “In America we only drink one size of beer: Pints.” Step it up, sir.
Heaps: Tons/loads. Ex: When you only work four days a week you have heaps of time to get crafty in the kitchen. This week I made heaps of yogurt, crackers and pesto.
Arvo: Afternoon. Ex: A typical Arvo in Hobart involves a bike ride followed by beer at the pub, making some dinner and sitting on the patio to watch the boats.
Dodgy: Sketchy. Ex: Most tourists I speak to who have made it to San Francisco remark that they found it to be a pretty dodgy town. Unfortunately, the Tenderloin isn’t the best first impression for frugal travelers.
Right-o: Gotcha. Ex: Boss: Can you work this weekend? me: Sorry, going to Melbourne! Boss: Right-o. We’ll see you next week.
Chook: Chicken. Ex. I ate the best roast chook in my life last week from Nicholl’s farm just outside of Hobart.
How you going (up-speak on the “going”): How are you? Ex. When greeting a new customer you might as “How you going?” before offering them a drink.
Mate: Dude. Used more commonly by “middle of the country folk,” Mate this and mate that is a common way to start a sentence. It is not gender specific. Ex: Can I get you a drink mate?
Bugger: Bastard. Ex: That bugger was so cooked he didn’t show up to the shop until noon.
Ute: Utility vehicle. Often equipped with four wheel drive and snorkel. We want one SO bad.