ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Australians visiting the USA - the language barrier

Updated on June 27, 2012


There’s no two questions about it – even though we technically speak the same language (that being English), Australians and Americans definitely speak varied dialects. And it can get confusing, especially when trying to communicate with the locals. Here are some tips to help you out (Australian word first…)

GREETINGS

How’s it going? = How are you doing?

FOOD

Lollies = Candy

Entrée = Appetizer

Main Meal = Entrée

Whole meal/brown (bread) = Whole wheat

Flat White = Café Au Lait (although good luck getting one – they’ll probably just make you a latte)

Long Black = Americano

Chips = French Fries

Iceblock = Popsicle

Jam = Jelly

Lemonade = Sprite

Restaurant bill = Restaurant Check

*You’ll often get asked how you would like your hamburger cooked. Don’t be alarmed; Americans seem to like their burgers medium/medium-rare. Don’t be afraid to ask for yours well-done!

CLOTHING

Thongs = Flip Flops or Sandals or Slippers

TRANSPORT

Boot/Bonnet/Windscreen (of the car) = Trunk/Hood/Windshield

Footpath = Sidewalk

Petrol = Gas

Ute = Pick up truck

Lift = Elevator


Another thing to remember is that although Aussies have a tendency to shorten pretty much everything, Americans just don’t get it. So think a little before you start saying words like “brekky” (breakfast), “sunnies” (sunglasses) and “boardies” (board shorts)!

Simply put, just think about what you're saying and if you are commonly greeted by blank stares or even laughter, stop, think about what you said and think of a suitable alternative!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Ali Dawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Ali Dawson 

      6 years ago from Honolulu, HI

      Richard it's funny, because I lived in the UK for 2 years and I learned very quickly that potato chips (in a bag) were 'crisps' to them. And I knew coming to the US that what Aussies call 'hot chips' are French Fried to the Americans, but I never expected to see potato chips with a sandwich! I've never heard an Aussie call potato chips "potato crisps" so it was one of the few times I've been caught out!

      Oh and I love messing with the Americans about "rubber". It's like "pants" in the UK - pants to them are "underpants", so saying "I like the pants your wearing, where did you get them?" always got a few interesting looks in London!

    • profile image

      richard g 

      6 years ago

      This is an important one if you have kids.

      Chips (Aus) = French fries (US) - but usually AUS chips are the fat british type

      but

      Chips (US) = Potato crisps (AUS) - you know Lays etc - the stuff you buy in packets from vending machines.

      So if you go to a US restaurant and you see that it comes with Chips then be prepared to be get a bunch of thin crunchy stuff out of a packet. And yes, American restaurants do that!

      Lastly Rubber (AUS) = Eraser (US)

      Rubber (US) = Condom (AUS). This one can get awkward under certain circumstances

    • Ali Dawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Ali Dawson 

      6 years ago from Honolulu, HI

      Your son is definitely learning how we Aussies do and say things, but it feels like every day we come across yet another language disconnect!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      6 years ago from Illinois

      Ali, I recognized many of the phrases - the car stuff, lift, chips. And anyone who's seen an Outback Steakhouse commercial knows what a "barbie" is. But I did have to laugh at a couple of the others - brekky, the confusion with thongs (yes, it does have a totally different connotation in the US!)

      My dad almost moved us to Australia back in the 60s when your govt was encouraging people to immigrate. If we had moved, who knows, you probably wouldn't have to teach your boyfriend some of your words ;)

      Language is fascinating with dialects and variations. It's amazing that people speaking the same language can still not communicate.

    • profile image

      Milli Thornton 

      6 years ago

      That's funny about lunchy and dinny! Sounds like something my husband would come up with. Ever since he heard an Aussie friend say "Whatareya?" he now says that as his greeting whenever he calls me on my cell phone/mobile.

      I moved from the States to Australia when I was 12 and had the opposite problem. This was way back in 1972 and everyone in the small town we moved to loved the Yank accent. (There wasn't as much American television back then.) My school mates wanted me to constantly say "car" and "marriage" so they could hear my rrr's. But all I wanted to do was sound like an Aussie so I could fit in!

    • Ali Dawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Ali Dawson 

      6 years ago from Honolulu, HI

      I've convinced my boyfriend to say some Aussie words too, but he thinks it's funny to take it a step further and ask "well, if it's brekky, does that means it's lunchy and dinny too?"!

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 

      6 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Ali, I completely understand what you mean. When I lived in Venezuela I had various friends come to visit and volunteer helping with our work. One summer we had "Don", our Tenneessee friend and we also hosted "Daniel", a young man from Trinidad. We never thought about the fact that although they both speak English, they wouldn't be able to communicate with each other. I had to serve as interpreter for any conversation that took place between them!

    • profile image

      Milli Thornton 

      6 years ago

      This article was a trip down memory lane! When I arrived in the States in 1997 nobody could understand my thick accent. Ordering food in restaurants was always a challenge because of the accent. I tried ordering a flat white in McDonald's and they thought I was completely nuts. ;~)

      Even all these years later, I forget that Americans have a much different connotation for the innocent word "thongs." And I still get confused between windscreen/windshield and life guard/life saver. I always forget which way to say it is Australian and which way is American. I've been away too long. :~(

      I've taught my American husband some Aussie and he now says "brekky," "barbie," "prawns," "galah" and "howyagoinmate." He would love to win big bikkies in the Lotto. ;~)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)