Friday, April 13, 2012

Metaphorically speaking…

I was caught out this week. I had arranged to meet with some dear friends for morning tea at a place of complete decadence. While I have to confess, the very thought of that consumed all my mental synapses, I completely forgot that the venue in question was also home to a man-made beach and water park for toddlers.

There was nothing else for it…unprepared as we were, the short one had to strip down to her undies and a great spontaneous time was had by all.

Later that afternoon, I was overheard saying that we had a fabulous time and the short one had a ball in her knickers. It was about then that I heard a little voice, somewhat perturbed, asking after the whereabouts of said ball in her knickers. It made me stop in my tracks and consider what I had just said. Unless she had lined up for some gender re-assignment, I also would be quite perturbed by this flippant comment.

But it was this very comment that got me thinking…Australian English is such a colourful language, it embraces native speakers in such a way that we don’t think twice about the continuum of literal to metaphorical. We think nothing of expecting our young ones to ‘pull their socks up’ or they will be ‘in the poo’. Just the other day I asked the short one to ‘wrap her laughing gear around her vegemite sanger quick sticks so we could get on the frog and toad and get going.’

Now, I knew what I said…and many other Aussies would too, but for one who is just embarking on the journey that is language it was perhaps a little confronting. And I suppose, non-Australian English speakers would struggle to recognise it as their first language too.

Not for a minute though, am I thinking of tempering my language (except for maybe some of the bad…). Australians, sadly, have a poor record when it comes to linguicide (the killing off of languages). Many indigenous languages have all but vanished, and I suspect Aussie slang is fast heading in the same direction. Professional linguists may beg to differ that our colourful colloquialisms even constitute a language. But I for one do not want to see it all but go by the wayside.

So, I am going to throw my hat in the ring, for what it’s worth. A shut mouth catches no flies. Give us a hoy sometime and share your favourite Australian expression.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the belly laugh. I for one love the colloquial language that is unique to Australia. I was reminded of this watching the Voice on Monday night when Seal had a go at one of the contestants for something he said. Joel Madden (charisma plus!) defended one of the singers saying 'Aussies have this uniqueness of taking the piss out of themselves that overseas people just don't get'.

    Could you imagine if you dropped a few metaphorical sentences into a conversation with Seal?