13 May A squiz at some ripsnorters: My 6 favourite ‘Aussie-isms’
The Union Jack on our flags. A love of cricket (and rugby – not so much soccer). A passion for the outdoors, and much of our genetic history.
Yep – Brits and Aussies have a lot in common.
So it was with an air of confidence and calm that, a mere three weeks after stepping straight from London onto the hot tarmac of Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport, I scored the role of Head of Copy at Refresh Marketing.
Little did I know, however, that every country and culture’s interpretation of a language throws up its own unique pleasures and pitfalls. And Australia has more than most.
Alright. So I haven’t met anyone firing off ‘strewths’ or ‘Sheilas’ just yet. There’s been a lack of ‘bonzers’, and a downright absence of ‘fair dinkums’. But I have come face to face with a whole host of other ‘Aussie-isms’.
And a handful have halted me in my tracks: be it with horror, hilarity, or head-scratching incomprehension. Below, I unpack 6 sizzlers – as both a guide to my fellow non-Australian residents, and as a reminder of the beautiful, bonkers slice of language Aussies have cultivated.
1. Getting ‘across’ something
I’ll admit it – this one really threw me.
I’ve heard of getting your head ‘around’ a piece of work. And being ‘on top’ of it. You can be ‘wrapped up in’ a project, too: and really ‘get into’ it.
Being across something, though? That’s new to me.
Yet if you’ve found yourself on Australia’s golden shores, or toiling in its inner-city office blocks, chances are you’ll be hearing this one a lot.
For Aussies, ‘being across’ a project means they’re aware of it. That they’re clued up on the job’s status, contacts and deadlines. For some, being across something also means that it’s under control; that it’s “all good, mate”.
Having lived in England for 17 years and New Zealand for 11, I can safely say this novel application of ‘across’ isn’t something we’re used to in the UK. (Or across the ditch). Like macropods, milo, and mullet/moustache mashups, this one’s all Aussie!
I’ve been in copywriting for about a decade, but I’ve never been accused of plagiarism.
So you can imagine my surprise when my Australian colleague, having reviewed a piece of my work, dubbed it a ‘rip-off’.
My mind raced. ‘A rip-off of who?’ I asked, gobsmacked. ‘A copy of what?’
But they simply laughed. Ripper, they said. Not rip-off!
As it turns out, ‘ripper’ is Aussie for very good; excellent; fantastic. So to all non-Australians, welcome any suggestions of ‘ripper-ness’ with open arms.
Just don’t let anyone call you a bludger!
Thought ripper was outlandish?
Well, meet ‘ripsnorter’ – a word which shares 50% of the same DNA as ripper, and about 100% of the same meaning.
Breaking it down, ‘ripsnorter’ is an evolution of ‘ripper’.
A ‘ripsnorter’ is ripper, but more rip. It’s typically reserved for big achievements or advancements. Something big; exciting; wild; impressive; amazing; awesome. “Ripsnorter, dude!”
“Hey Rob, can you give this document a squiz?”
“Sure, Mitch. No probl-“
Wait – hold up. Come again?
To take a ‘squiz’ means to have a look. At Refresh Marketing, though, it’s a tad more specific – meaning to review, critique, edit or proofread each other’s work.
The act of the ‘squiz’, then, is all part of the job. So the lingo’s essential!
In the UK, it’s Weetabix. One nice, single, simple word.
Over here in Oz, though? It’s the oddly hyphenated ‘Weet-Bix’.
Okay, so this particular Aussie-ism isn’t cause for a complete culture shock. But it is one of Australia’s more bizarre adaptations of classic British foodstuffs.
At least, that’s what I thought. Yet after some digging online, the truth was laid bare. Weet-Bix actually originated in Australia!
Really, then, I can have no complaints. Weet-Bix is the original, and the UK just copied.
I’ll give you that, Aussies. But you still stole pavlovas, lolly cake, flat whites and the lamington from New Zealand – so when it comes to stealing other country’s culinary innovations, you guys are cereal offenders!
Thought blue was just a colour, an emotional state, or a cookie-cutter English pop band from the early 2000s?
Think again. In Australian colloquialisms, blue has not one, not two, but a whopping three additional meanings.
The first? To fight. ‘Having a blue’ means, in Australia, to engage in fisticuffs (so thankfully, it’s not one I’ve heard used too excessively here at RM!).
‘Making a blue’, on the other hand, refers to a mistake – a gaffe, a blunder, an error. An oversight.
Thirdly, adding a ‘true’ gives you a faithful, staunch, dyed-in-the-wool Australian. ‘True Blue’ is a person that embodies classic Australian values: honest, loyal and unwavering in their principles. (Although ironically, the phrase originated in Britain!)
Aussie-isms: brilliant expressions and beautiful people
Stepping off the plane and into Australian summer, there was a lot to fall in love with.
The weather. The lifestyle. The flora and fauna. Now, after four months here, I’ve added the (quite phenomenal) Aussie interpretation of the English language to the list – not to mention its amazing people.
But despite my newfound affection for Aussie lingo, you won’t find me peppering it throughout my copy just yet. However, if you’re a brand with a ‘true blue’ tone of voice – and need a copywriting team to get across your next exciting project – we’re ready. ‘Ripsnorters’ and all.