Posted by: dsduffy | April 12, 2010

Yet another list…

I have been compiling a mental list lately of words/phrases that have made their way into my everyday vocabulary, and those that I just. Cant. Say. (especially without sounding like a total POSER)

Here are the ones that I DO say:

*No worries. I mean come on – how can you not say this? It just works on so many levels.

* Toilet. I just got sick of saying bathroom and feeling funny about it. But I still feel a bit dirty talking about the toilet all the time. Especially when someone asks “Where’s Cameron?” And my answer is “In the toilet.”

*Trolley. I like this one, it is fun.  I adopted this word pretty early on.

*Morning Tea. It just sounds so cute telling my 3-year-old to wait until morning tea to have his crackers and cheese.

*Jumper. This one was easy too. And again it sounds cute coming from a 3-year old.

*Tomahto Sauce. Ketchup has completely disappeared from my vocabulary. I am sure it will return one day.

*Shop. (Instead of store) I don’t know, I’m still on the fence with this one, it still feels weird to say, but I am trying it out.

*Rubbish. This word is just fun to say.

*Post. I guess I can accept this – it saves from saying an extra word. (Post Office)

And now for the words and phrases that just don’t work for me, and I don’t say. Ever.

*Ta. I mean really – how hard is it to just say Thanks? And doesn’t Cheers work the same

*I reckon.  I don’t reckon it sounds right coming from me.

*Telly. TV is just fine thank you.

*Lemonade. Soda, unless you are offering a real lemonade which I doubt since it is not a popular drink here.

*G’day. No explanation needed on this one.

*Darling. A lot of moms call their kids darling. I think I’ll stick with sweetie or honeybear. Darling sounds way too formal for me.

*MUM. Mummy. Blech.

*Bench. Everytime someone says “oh it’s over on the bench” I look around for the bench. Oh right, they mean counter.

*Rubber. Yea we went over that in the last post. No more explanation needed.

*Boot. I can’t get this one to mean trunk. I just think of actual boots.


Just to clarify, I am not saying anything is wrong with these words. They just don’t work for me. Just like if an Australian moved to the US, I doubt they would be saying “Hey dude”  or anything like that and not feel strange.



  1. The word part of expat life is an interesting one. I keep wondering what words we will continue to use once we move back to the US. Do they say Mobile phone there instead of cell phone? That one has changed with me and now my US friends laugh when I say it!

  2. I agree with you on the word “bench”…how did they ever come up with that?
    But, I do love breky and bikki…however you spell them! I hate calling cookies biscuits, but bikki is ok with me. Though I do have an Australian husband that introduced much of the vocabulary to me before we ever came here, so I had time to adjust. Another thing I am not really a fan of is “pram” for stroller, or the fact that its Where’s Wally here and not Where’s Waldo.

  3. Just to clarify – “jumper” is sweater? Since ketchup is tomahto sauce, is mustard mustard and mayo mayo? Lemonade for any soft drink? When we lived in TN and TX, I found it odd that people would ask for a Coke, then the waitress would ask “what kind”? (as in diet, sprite, etc) Why the extra step? I’d love to hear this story from an Aussie in the States’ side – I’m sure the examples would make even less sense!!

  4. Diane also had this when she was in London. I guess when in Rome…..

  5. Love those Aussies! Most of the words make sense except “lemonade” and “bench” … where did they come from? What’s it they say when you walk into a “shop” …. how ya going???

  6. TheMahoneys: Jumper = sweatshirt/sweater
    I think mustard is the same, and mayo is mayo, although it not used much, margarine is always put on sandwiches.
    As for the lemonade – I think that it goes for all carbonated soda, and then they ask what kind, just like “coke” in Texas. Like they would say Orange lemonade forh orange soda… go figure!

    akroezen: I can’t use the word “pram” either!

    Cassie: yes, mobile phone – but moBYEle not moBULL like we would say in the US.

    Mamacita: yes they say How ya goin? I love this one too!

  7. My favourite (like how I spelled that?) one is when my 3 yr old says “I’m so cheeky”. Too funny!

  8. What a great list of words- especially for me to read since I am an aussie but have many American and British friends who often have no idea what I am talking about!! I don`t think I even realized that jumper was not world wide until now!

    Like when I asked a British/Peruvian friend if I could borrow her thongs and she freaked out and said no way and I was left wondering why. Turns out she thought I meant her underwear when I actually meant her flip flops!

    I stopped over from Expatwomen.

  9. How funny I hadn’t even thought of some of the differences before. Sure I adopted No Worries fairly early on but cannot bring myself to say G’Day. It sounds all wrong! Morning & Afternoon Tea are bizarre, isn’t it just a snack in between meals? From the UK lemonade is a fizzy lemon flavoured drink which is completely different to Soda. I think some things will always be the way we knew them at home….

  10. Wow, I love this post. I can relate to each and every comment. Having spent plenty of time in Australia and planning to move there in a few months, it’s refreshing to read through a website with someone going through the same things I will be. I already feel uncomfortable using some words, as if I am pretending to be someone I am not. How about ‘long black’ for coffee? I feel dirty every time…

  11. I finally found out why people say Ta! At least why my husband says that they do. I have always thought it was just being lazy 🙂 He says that people say “Ta” because thats how they teach babies to say thank you…and then it just sticks I guess. I dont know if that is true, but it makes me feel better when I hear it.

  12. Hi Danielle,
    I’ve just spent a very enjoyable half hour browsing your blog! I’m an Aussie, but I’ve been to the USA three times, and loved every minute of those trips. I’ve just discovered there is a heap of blogs by Americans living here, and they are such fun to read – they bring back so many memories for me, especially posts like this about the language differences. Asking for white coffee got me in trouble more than once …”What is wot coffee?”, until I learned to say coffee with cream.
    I’m in Eltham by the way – not too far from Box Hill, so if you want to get together one day for a WHITE coffee (lol) email me!

  13. BTW, tomato sauce is NOT the Australian word for ketchup. That is a very common, but wrong, misconception. They are two different things.

    Ketchup has vinegar in it. Tomato sauce doesn’t. Check the ingredients if you don’t believe me.

    And you can get either in Australia. The standard supermarkets in Australia (Coles, Woolworths etc.) usually sell Heinz Ketchup, as well as Heinz Tomato Sauce (and many other brands of tomato sauce only, since that is far more popular than ketchup here).

    But it’s wrong to say they are the same thing with different words. Australians will still say ketchup if they are actually referring to ketchup (i.e. the stuff with vinegar in it) … it’s just that almost noone actually eats it here. 🙂

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