Happy Australia day everyone!
Before coming to France I was never particularly patriotic. I mean, as the nation who created the bogan, we don’t have a lot to be proud of. Sure, I would join in the cries of ‘Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!’ at sporting matches but that’s about as far as my pride in my nation went. Then I came here and realised that omg Australia is the greatest country in the world and is amazing and everyone should know about its complete and utter fabulousness. I soon found myself raving about how amazing everything in Australia is, singing the national anthem (really, I kid you not. But to give me credit, it was the version to the tune of ‘Working Class Man’) and getting super excited and squealing “OMG THEY’RE AUSTRALIAN” whenever I saw or heard of an Aussie actor/singer. Once, I was in a cafe and a clip was shown from the Channel Seven news. I got so excited I almost fell off my chair. Call it all a bizarre symptom of homesickness, but I had never been prouder to call myself a True Blue ‘Straylian in my life.
Even though I came to France to learn, uh, French, as most of you know I made friends with other English speakers and thus spent the vast majority of my time speaking English. This actually taught me a lot, as I discovered that the ‘English’ we speak in Australia is vastly, vastly, different to the English spoken by my foreign fellow exchangees.
I first realised this at camp when I declared someone a bogan and was met with weird looks. “A bogan?” they asked me, “What the hell is that?!”. It went downhill from there. From my accent (apparently Aussies pronounce anything in ‘-er’ hilariously. Hearing me say ‘water’ was a personal favourite of my friends) to the stereotypes (humiliatingly enough, ‘Throw another shrimp on the barbie’ and ‘G’day Mate’ have actually become commonly said things amongst my friends), to the word differences (‘lollies’ vs ‘candy’, ‘trolley’ vs ‘shopping cart’, ‘take away’ vs ‘take out’, ‘tomato sauce’ vs ‘ketchup’ etc. etc.) to the crazy fact that American’s don’t say that “they’re going to the toilet”, my day to day life became a constant English lesson.
I’m ashamed to admit that, save ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’, my English became Americanized instead of the other way around. Today I found myself telling my friends to “hold my candy while I go to the bathroom” and then died a little inside. As disgustingly butchered as most of our English is, it totally represents us as a country. We have British origins, so yes, we’re going to speak vaguely British English. We’re outrageously laid back, so of course we’re going to abbreviate everything! We’re in the middle of nowhere, so yes, we’re going to create some of our own words. If we end up turning our backs to our Aussie Slang and allow it to be taken over by what we hear on tv or in movies, then we’re losing a big part of our culture. Sure, talking to an English speaker from another country can be a little challenging at times (and they will probably end up laughing at things you say) and yes, embarrassingly enough a lot of non-native English speakers will speak more correct English than you, but at the end of the day we should be proud of the way we speak as Australian’s.
So today, get together with your mates, act like a bogan, throw another shrimp on the barbie (or you know, a snag), tie up your pet kangaroo and be proud to call yourself an Aussie, because we really are one of the luckiest countries on Earth.
Side note, the American’s have this song called ‘Proud To Be An American’ (which I totally don’t get stuck in my head and know almost all the words to. Not at all. Never.), we don’t have one quite along those lines, but what song do you think defines us as a nation?
frangipani princess xoxo