‘S’ is for Slang

letterSMigrants to Australia naturally have difficulty mastering the language if they are non-English speakers, but even those who are, can have a problem with the way Australians speak due to the colloquial nature of our language, especially in places where people adopt slang as a big part of their communication. Vice-versa, we can encounter the same issue when visiting America, Canada and the UK, and closer to home in New Zealand, or dare I say other parts of Australia itself. Some slang has survived for so long that we don’t even recognise it as such — take the word cop, for example, which derives from the abbreviation of Constable On Patrol. In my youth, you would refer to a person who was nonchalant and at ease with life as cool. Now, youth say someone or something is sick, which is about opposite in meaning to the word’s intended meaning of ill or nauseous. They also say wicked and bad in a similar way. We can describe a physically attractive person as hot, saucy, or sexy. Money has been described in so many ways — dosh, dough, slices, pesos, etc.

Some of my favourite colloquial expressions come from the people of rural and outback areas. I had a friend who spoke of farmers as dirt doctors, but there are many terms that have become as famous as the Aussie meat pie. Here’s just a sample:

If we think someone is stupid, we might describe them as a few stubbies short of a six-pack, a few sandwiches short of a picnic, or having kangaroos up the top paddock.  The ‘stubbies’ are small bottles of beer, and the ‘top paddock’ refers to the brain. You might also call them drongos and galahs after two of our native birds. I don’t know how the poor drongo was given that slight, but I have witnessed how the galah, which is a type of parrot, will fly off a road from approaching traffic only to fly back across in front of the cars and be killed.

Rhyming slang also has its place in Australia as well as back in the ‘motherland’ England. We say we are going to hit the frog and toad to mean that we are about to get in our car and drive on the road.  Another example is Oxford Scholar for ‘dollar’.

Let’s look at some English slang terms:

Chin wag: To have a chat with someone

Gobsmacked: Amazed

Knackered: Tired

Porkies: Lies

Spend a penny: Go to the toilet

Up the Duff: pregnant

And some American slang to finish it off:

Trash: To destroy

Put up your dukes: Fight with your fists

Shoot the breeze: To have a chat with someone

John Hancock: Signature

Monday morning quarterback: Criticise from a position of hindsight.

This is just a sample of the slang that people use. It can create headaches for newcomers who simply don’t understand, as the words are contrary to their original meanings or used in a way that disguises the meaning. But it does add to the ‘colour’ or a region’s culture. I ‘bet’ you will know a few slang terms yourself. Why not cast a few this way and share.

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Tips on using MS Word

I recently helped out a senior friend who was having trouble with formatting her poetry in a number of documents that she had created in Microsoft Word. She had copied some of her own poetry from a website that she contributed to, and that was the major cause of much angst on her part. It also caused me some consternation until I realised that she had copied from a website, and inadvertently brought in elements that forced whole sections of poetry to lump together and defy any effort to divide it into neat separate pages. The page break tool would not insert a page break, but instead sent me back to before the section I was working on. The answer was to create a fresh document and ensure only the text was copied over and not all the elements from the website. I also noticed that my friend had put in numerous tabs and spaces to align her text where she wanted it. Multiple returns were also used to push text onto the next page rather than using page breaks.

These are among the common things that people struggle with using MS Word and similar word-processing software. I showed her some of the simple things you can do with MS Word that will make life a whole lot easier, and thought that I could create some tutorials on YouTube to help others tackle the mysteries of this software.

Therefore, I invested in some screen recording software and have already made three tutorials in what I plan will be a series. The links for you to watch them are as follows: