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This site may, in fact always will contain images and information likely to cause consternation, conniptions, distress, along with moderate to severe bedwetting among statists, wimps, wusses, politicians, lefties, green fascists, and creatures of the state who can't bear the thought of anything that disagrees with their jaded view of the world.

May 27, 2007

The Language (or Strine)

By Jim Fryar

Patrick Joubert Conlon (Born Again Redneck Yogi) has asked a quite relevant question, which is worth a post in it’s own right.

He is up himself... I've never heard that expression before. I'm guessing it means he's full of himself?

Yes Patrick, that's pretty much it. I sometimes wonder when I use some of these expressions, whether my international readers understand them, although I think most of them are pretty self-explanatory.

Some people over here have complained that with the advent of more modern communications, many of our Australian expressions are dying out, while others look down on 'Ockerisms', believing that all culture comes from somewhere else.

The English language will over the years change and adapt with the age, and will naturally become more international as it becomes increasingly common to talk worldwide. Hollywood presents the US version to the world in a dominant manner so it already has a good head start on this. It’s quite possible that in the future, entire languages will fall into disuse, which while making communication easier in the common languages, will be a shame, and we will all lose something from it.

At the same time words and expressions from other places will include themselves into the new version, owing to their unique meaning and value as well as their ability to present a connotation, which doesn’t quite come out in the usages in other places, or looses something in translation. This will enrich us.

I was amused by a story told by (I think) Peter Ustinov who noticing the relaxed pace of the Irish, asked one “Do You have a word similar to manyama”. The reply was “Yes, but it doesn’t quite convey the same sense of urgency”.

Australian expressions like those of other countries developed in a more isolated era, and reflect the uniqueness of the cultural development of the nation. Many of them were never used by all of us, but tended to be more the language of the workplace, and the bush, and I love them.

Steve Irwin used some of them in a sort of ‘over the top’ way as part of his image, irritating some people in the process. “We don’t bloody well talk like that, he’s a bloody wanker”. The guy was unique, a one off, and I miss not having him in the background. He embarrassed some people in the same way as Billy Connolly embarrasses some Scots. There will never be another of either.

Many of our sayings are sinking into obscurity, but in the meantime some people will be ‘as silly as a gum tree full of galas, the person who ‘goes ballistic’ will be ‘as mad as a cut snake’ and the person who doesn’t care about the problems he causes for others will still “think his shit don’t stink”.


  1. Strine, like Cockney and Seffrican, doesn't travel well. I could use some Seffrican when I lived in the UK because it is similar to British slang but it did not work in the USA. There are some American idioms (especially from the South) that I still have to ask about but most of them are self-explanatory.

  2. Strine is as I see it a bit of a send up of the accent and the lazy drawl associated with it, and the the tendency to drop the first syllable and run words togeather, but exagerated from reality.

    Australian, becomes under this scenerio aSTRyn hence the word strine.

    John Singelton and Bob Howard wrote a book called Rip Van Australia, which was a great libertarian perspective, and included an entry about Aorta, which sent up the tendency of people to say how, "They aught to have a law.....", becoming ea orta have....., you get the drift?

    The part of the language I love is more the expressions. If you saw Crocadile Dundee, you would have heard, "flat out like a lizzard drinking". Flat out in our idiom means working hard, while the lizzard tends to lie flat and drink fast, hence the connection.

  3. Jim

    I'm getting the hang of Strine, (i hope) :)

  4. I didn't know that you came over here Pommy. Thats a good post and I will pass it on.