A few of my favourite and least favourite words

I love language. What writer doesn’t? Being based in Australia means I should write in Australian English. But … what if I prefer the Kiwi or American version? Does writing have to be so consistent? Perhaps with globalisation there will come a time when writers can pick and choose words based on rhythm or what looks best on the page rather than geography.

In the meantime I’ve made a list of my favourite and least favourite Australian English words:


Snow pea. When I first moved to London I saw mange tout written on menus and assumed it was a fish. Mangy trout anyone? If you say it with a French accent it sounds brilliant but surely only French people can get away with it. The rest of us would sound like we’re trying too hard. Now say to yourself ‘snow pea’. It has a sweet ring to it, don’t you think? Just like how they taste.

Thongs. Referring to your shoes as thongs to a non-Aussie may result in fun and hilarity but it’s a joke that is getting old fast. While more Australians opt for the term ‘flip-flop’ I can’t bring myself to make the change. Flip-flop just sounds so kiddie because it’s a term based on the sound made by the object. It’s like calling a cow ‘moo cow’ or a car the ‘vroom vroom’. Of course if you’re under five then knock yourself out.

Autumn. I understand why Americans use the word fall but autumn is melodic. If you had a literary fight between a poem about autumn versus one about fall my money is on autumn – it ain’t gonna fall. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) Besides, if you call one season ‘fall’ surely the others should be named along the same lines like: shine, breeze and baby fun times.

G-string. Calling it a thong sounds painful and wrong. See what I did there? I got so inspired by the autumn/fall poetry slam that I started thinking in rhyme.

Nappy. Diaper is not as cute, and let’s face it, nappies are one item that need a bit of sugar coating.  Metaphorically, that is, otherwise … weird.

Biscuit. While “cookie” is pretty fun to use it is never ever Anzac cookie. Also, don’t you think a cup of tea goes better with a biscuit?

Rockmelon. Cantaloupe sounds like a mix between antelope and a horse’s canter. Enough said.

                                                                                   Least Favourite

Chips. Explaining how we use the word chips to non-Australians, especially the Brits, is painful. “Instead of crisps we say chips. And chips are chips unless they’re hot chips. You see we tend to call hot chips just chips except for the times we don’t … what? You’re confused? Nah, it makes sense. Well maybe not sense per se but you know when you are using it. Truuuuust me.”

Lollies. Sweets trump lollies and candy anytime. I love, love, love sweets. There is no better way to define the sugary food. Lollies don’t lol and one might argue that candy is now synonymous with stripper.    

Movies. I like to go to the cinemarrrr instead of the Aussie mooooovies. Irish filem is pretty spesh but only an Irish person can get away with using this.

Dummy. Did dummy come from the term dumb – as in mute? Because I use this item to pacify my kid, not to shut him up … well … not to make him stupid, right?

Esky. You just know good things are going to come out of a chilly bin. Thank you New Zealand 🙂


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