Aussie Accent vs Kiwi Accent: Do You Speak the Lingo?
When you travel overseas, it’s common to have people confuse the Kiwi and Aussie accent - both countries have similar sounding vowel sounds, to the uninitiated ear.
However, the locals know the accents are COMPLETELY different and immediately identifiable. If you want to pass as an Australian, you are going to have to master the accent and lingo. So, chuck a snag on the barbie, stone the flamin’ crows and start practising!
How to differentiate between a Kiwi and an Aussie accent
Australians have an accent that is often confused with New Zealand’s dulcet tones. However, for those in the know, they are as distinct as Canadian and American accents. Kiwis have a tendency to flatten their vowels, and Aussies have more of a nasally twang.
Winston Churchill said that the Australian accent was ‘The most brutal maltreatment that has ever been inflicted on the mother-tongue of the great English-speaking nations.” That’s not exactly a glowing reference for the refinement of the accent.
How did the Australian accent come about?
There’s a few ideas, all as likely as each other. One theory is that due to the proliferation of flies, Aussies tried to talk with their mouths as tightly closed as possible, so ended up with the slur and shortened words that we know today. Another theory is that the hordes of drunk convicts slurred their words so much that it added an alcoholic slur to speech patterns.
While neither of these theories seem to be that likely, linguists do admit that it’s a very lazy type of speech. D’s instead of T’s, ends of words are missed altogether, and just skipping vowels in general (that’s why we love ‘Straya, right?).
In general, there are three categories of accent.
- Broad (Crickey! Think Steve Irwin)
- General (your basic Chris Hemsworth)
- Cultivated (the lovely Cate Blanchett).
Many Australians start with a broad accent and work their way up to a cultured, more English-sounding voice. This poshifying of the accent includes slowing down the pace of the delivery, enunciating the vowels and avoiding the question inflection.
How to Speak Australian
If you wish to start sounding like an Australian, there are a few things to do.
- Drop the ends of words. If a word ends in r, drop it and replace it with a short ‘a’ sound. Think, car, water, mirror, amateur, or even theatre or tyre. Also drop those g’s. Nothin’ doin’.
- Add vowels. No, really. Add a u in ‘future’ to become fee-you-cha.
- Finish your sentences by going up at the end. Known as the ‘Australian Question Inflection’, it makes everything you say sound like a question.
- Twist those vowels. E’s become I’s, I's become a subtle ‘oi’s, A’s become I’s or ‘eh’s’, ‘oo’s’ become ‘ew’s’. Don’t be confused - Foish and cheps are eaten for denner. Vowels are more confusing in New Zealand, where they eat fush and chups out on the dick.
Adopt the colloquial language
Aussies have a million and one slang words. There’s so many to learn, but this is a small example of the kind of thing you’ll encounter. A lot of slang is due to Australians trimming their words, as above. These slang words differ across the states too - what one person says in NSW won’t be the same in WA.
Common Kiwi and Australian Slang Words
Ambo - Ambulance. [AU]
Arvo - Afternoon. ‘Hey Shelia, wanna go to the beach this arvo?’ [NZ & AU]
Bach - Holiday home [NZ & AU]
Barbie - A BBQ. ‘Hey Kath, chuck a few sausies on the barbie?’ [NZ & AU]
Bogan - An Australian version of a redneck. [NZ & AU]
Bro - Brother or good friend [NZ & AU]
Bubbler - Drinking fountain [AU]
Chocka - Full ‘That esky is chocker with beer mate’ [NZ & AU]
Crikey - This isn’t actually that common any more, but it’s an exclamation - Crickey! [AU]
Crash here - sleep here [NZ]
Cuz / Cuzzy - Cousin. Also used instead of "Bro" [NZ]
Dole - Unemployment benefit [NZ & AU]
Esky - A chilly bin (you take it to a barbie filled with your favourite brews). [AU]
Fizzy drink - Soda/pop [NZ & AU]
Gidday / G'Day - A shortened ‘good day’ which is a colloquial greeting. [NZ & AU]
Goon - A bag that boxed wine comes in. [NZ & AU]
Hard bro - eg “hard bro, hard”, agreement [NZ]
Hard out - complete agreement [NZ]
How ya doin? - How are you today? [AU]
Mate - The generic term for any person you like or have forgotten their name ‘Hey mate lets go to the pub’. [NZ & AU]
Maccas - McDonalds. [NZ & AU]
Reckon - Absolutely, yes. [NZ & AU]
Ripper - Really great ‘You little ripper!’ [AU]
Servo - Service station, petrol station. [AU]
She’ll be right - It will work out fine. [NZ & AU]
Sick - unless someone is actually sick, sick means good. ‘That wave was fully sick, mate!’ [NZ & AU]
Spit the dummy - Throw a tantrum. [NZ & AU]
Sausies - Sausages, you put them on the barbie [NZ & AU]
Stoked - Excited [NZ & AU]
Strewth - Another exclamation - ‘Did you see the size of that shark? Strueth!’ [AU]
Thongs - Flips Flops [AU] - known as Jandals in NZ
Togs - Swimsuit [NZ & AU]
Swimmers / cozzies - Swimsuit [AU]
Relies - Relatives [NZ & AU]
Whinge - Whine/ complain [NZ & AU]
Check out this comprehensive list of Aussie Slang.
So mates, there you have it
There’s a variety of ways to make yourself sound more like the locals, so that you’re accepted by the locals. Remember when you encounter Australian things - like giant spiders or snakes - don’t act scared. Your cover will be blown. Instead, calmly back away and look chill. Nothing gives the game away more than the look of horror in someones eyes as they encounter their first 20cm long spider.
If you’re thinking of blending in when travelling to or moving to Australia (with a company like Ausmove), you can now almost pass as a local!
Author: Alina Maul. I'm a marketing intern currently down-under, I love travelling, campervans and who knows, one day I might even move to Australia or New Zealand!
Main image: Aussie bloke in cork hat by Tfarrell6 [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons; Steve Irwin by Richard Giles [CC BY-SA 3.0], Crocodile Dundee by Eva Rinaldi - Crocodile Dundee, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link