In the same way that words fascinate me, language itself is a constant wonder to me. I love the fact that people around the world communicate in such a variety of ways. I think learning another language is something that everyone should do to help them understand language in general and to give them an appreciation of what other people go through when they have to use a second language. It’s also bloody useful, not to mention polite, to know at least a little of the language spoken in any given country that you may visit.
I speak a few languages, all of them really quite badly. Really, I’m not just being humble. I’m not fluent in any of them, except perhaps English. And even that’s debatable. I’m currently trying to improve my Polish (which is my wife’s native tongue) and my Cantonese (which is my Kung Fu teacher’s native tongue). Both are really hard languages to learn, but in a self-flagellating sort of way I enjoy the challenge.
However, even supposed English speakers can have trouble understanding each other due to the massive variety of dialects and slang out there. Language is an almost organic, evolving thing and it’s fascinating to study the development in your own language, let alone start learning a new one.
I was born and grew up in England but now live in Australia. I have done for over a decade, yet I’m still caught out on occasion by an Australian-ism that I don’t understand. And sometimes I say things that turn out to be very English and Australians don’t understand. I’m used to a certain look, as if I’ve suddenly grown another head, that indicates that an English colloquialism has escaped in Sydney.
With that in mind, see how much of the following test you can fathom. This is the new Australian Citizen Test, developed to stop immigrants from corrupting our cultural identity. No, it really is.
1. Do you understand the meaning, but are unable to explain the origin of, the term “died in the arse”?
2. What is a mole?
3. Are these terms related: chuck a sickie; chuck a spaz; chuck a U-ey?
4. Explain the following passage: “In the arvo last Chrissy the relos rocked up for a barbie, some bevvies and a few snags. After a bit of a Bex and a lie down we opened the pressies, scoffed all the chockies, bickies and lollies. Then we drained a few tinnies and Mum did her block after Dad and Steve had a barney and a bit of biffo.”
1. Macca, Chooka and Wanger are driving to Surfers in their Torana. If they are travelling at 100 km/h while listening to Barnsey, Farnsey and Acca Dacca, how many slabs will each person on average consume between flashing a brown eye and having a slash?
2. Complete the following sentences:
a) “If the van’s rockin’ don’t bother …
b) You’re going home in the back of a ….
c) Fair suck of the ..
3. I’ve had a gutful and I can’t be fagged. Discuss.
4. Have you ever been on the giving or receiving end of a wedgie?
5. Do you have a friend or relative who has a car in their front yard “up on blocks”? Is his name Keith and does he have a wife called Cheryl?
1. Does your family regularly eat a dish involving mincemeat, cabbage, curry powder and a packet of chicken noodle soup called either chow mein, chop suey or kai see ming?
2. What are the ingredients in a rissole?
3. Demonstrate the correct procedure for eating a Tim Tam.
4. Do you have an Aunty Myrna who is famous for her tuna mornay and other dishes involving a can of cream of celery soup?
5. In any two-hour period have you ever eaten three-bean salad, a chop and two serves of pav washed down with someone else’s beer that has been nicked from a bath full of ice?
6. When you go to a bring-your-own-meat barbie can you eat other people’s meat or are you only allowed to eat your own?
7. What purple root vegetable beginning with the letter “b” is required by law to be included in a hamburger with the lot?
1. Do you own or have you ever owned a lawn mower, a pair of thongs, an Esky or Ugg boots?
2. Is it possible to “prang a car” while doing “circle work”?
3. Who would you like to crack on to?
4. Who is the most Australian: Kevin “Bloody” Wilson, John “True Blue” Williamson, Kylie Minogue or Warnie?
5. Is there someone you are only mates with because they own a trailer or have a pool?
6. Would you love to have a beer with Duncan?
The people to be granted citizenship are the ones who call it a crock and cheat.
So, how did you do?