This story is based upon a conversation with Sesheta255 on the Bioware Social Network (BSN) about the misunderstandings that occur around slang. It definitely would not have seen the light of day without her input and of course, her Aussie slang dictionary which follows the story!
Tris stepped through the doors of New Queensland’s Canberra Spaceport. The planet’s inhabitants had fondly nicknamed it the Outback Oasis and as she drew in a deep breath of the planet’s warm sweet-smelling atmosphere she could understand why. Everywhere she looked, plantings of varied and lush native vegetation flourished. The heat pressed down on her and she was glad to be wearing lightweight clothing rather than her usual armor. Can’t wait to find out what the water’s like. She looked around to get her bearings before making her way to the passenger pick up area to wait for her ride.
All around her, she could hear snippets of strange conversation. Phrases like ‘that bloody wombat’ and ‘bloody greenies’ mingled with the more common ‘maaate’ which seemed to be both a greeting and an exclamation depending on how many “a’s” were added to it. She did a double take when she heard someone say ‘get a dog up ya,’ vaguely hoping the term wasn't as nasty as it sounded and that no real dogs were involved. She felt like she’d stepped into an alien world with a broken translator. I hope Kaidan understands this language.
Ah yes, Kaidan. She looked around eagerly wondering where he was. She’d been delayed by the need to finish making arrangements for the Normandy’s refit so they had agreed to meet on-planet instead. She couldn’t wait to see him. It had been a long time since she’d so eagerly anticipated a shore leave and she knew she probably wouldn’t have even considered taking this one, regardless of how much it was needed if it hadn’t been for him. She was bone-tired and completely drained from the physical and emotional poundings she’d taken since awakening in the Lazarus Project’s med lab. Exhaustion played havoc with her mood. She’d always had a bit of a quick temper but by the time the Normandy had limped back into Terminus space, she was behaving in a way that could only be described as downright bitchy. And then Kaidan had appeared.
She’d been taken aback by his rejection of her on Horizon so as great as her hope for their eventual reunion had been, she’d been utterly surprised by his immediate appearance at space dock after her triumphant return through the Omega IV relay. Her mind drifted back to the memory of that meeting. He’d been apologetic and fortunately, patient, given her initial angry words to him. Her anger hadn’t lasted long. Lucky we went to my cabin for a drink after we finished being mad at each other. Joker would have had quite a vid to share if we’d remained in the briefing room. She giggled at the thought. God, imagine if we’d been on the table…and hit the videoconferencing switch.
A loud squawking noise intruded on her reverie and she looked up to see a strange and rather small vehicle coming towards her. As it stopped, she saw that Kaidan was in the driver’s seat.
Slinging her duffel bag over her shoulder, she made her way towards the vehicle. “What the hell is this, Alenko?”
“It’s a Personal Transport Vehicle. ‘Q-Landers call them PTVs. I told you we were going to drive one to the resort. If you didn’t remember that after all the time we spent talking about it then you really do need some R&R.”
Tris grimaced. Of course she remembered. She’d just been more interested in looking at Kaidan’s superb ass and in thinking about the possibilities of being with him in an environment which included an abundance of white sand beaches, glorious sunsets, private cabanas and best of all no one to interrupt them. I certainly wasn’t paying much attention when he’d talked about the of driving one of New Queensland’s PTVs, she acknowledged to herself. Having spent hours in the Mako she honestly couldn’t quite understand the attraction of traveling in an even smaller land vehicle but he’d assured her she’d enjoy it. “Mass transit isn’t really an option on New Queensland. Everything’s pretty remote so it makes sense to have private transportation. Anyway, they’re a lot more comfortable than the Mako and of course much safer since you won’t be driving!” She’d pounded him with pillows pretty well after that remark; a fight that had inevitably ended with wrestling and clothing removal.
They made their way through city traffic and onto a thoroughfare and then eventually to a smaller two lane road winding through low coastal mountains. The engine’s hum and the rhythmic sounds of tires on the road mixed with her own exhaustion proved to be too much for Tris who found herself drifting off to sleep.
Sometime later she wakened to the sound of Kaidan’s voice and her body being slung around the interior of a sliding, bucking vehicle. She scrambled to find a clutch hold as the vehicle slewed back and forth across the road. Kaidan’s swearing is much more creative than it used to be. As they slid to a stop a few seconds later, she said, “And you once complained about my driving?”
He took a deep breath before releasing his frantic grip on the steering wheel. “If you were driving I suspect we’d still be moving forward. We’d be upside down, bouncing up in the air or twirling around but we’d still be moving forward uncontrollably.” She grinned, acknowledging the truth of the statement and they climbed out of the vehicle. A quick inspection of the PVT turned up the problem; a tire had completely disintegrated.
“Can you fix it?”
Kaidan shook his head. "No tools. But things break down out here all the time. Something about the combination of heat, sand and friction. No worries though. One of this planet's claims to fame is their Roving Vehicle Services (RVS)." He began tapping at his omni tool. "There. I've called them. We won’t have long to wait.”
A short time later the rumbling sound of an engine made the RVS presence known before the vehicle appeared. It was much larger than their PVT and was clearly intended to tow or carry another vehicle. It squealed to a stop in front of them. The driver, a rather freckled young man with a wide friendly smile jumped out. He looked at Kaidan, ignoring Tris completely.
G’day, mate. ‘Owsitgoin?”
Kaidan gestured towards the front of the PVT. “Tire blew. Can you fix it?”
“No worries mate, she’ll be right.” The towie thrust a thumb over his shoulder towards his vehicle as he continued to speak. “Bloody hot today! There’s some tinnies and sangas in the esky if you want one. Its time for smoko anyway. I’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking cause Wal chucked a sickie, the bludger.”
“Wha..?” Shepard began and then stopped. Although she’d heard many people at the space port speaking the strange dialect, she’d thought that someone whose job was to rescue tourists would at least speak Standard.
He grinned companionably at her before bending down to look at the offending tire. “Ay? No offense love, but you look like a stunned mullet, or are you just playing silly buggers?” She gave him one of her best Commander stares, but he didn’t notice. “Get some tucker into ya, then we’ll hit the frog ‘n toad. I can give ya a tingle this arvo and Bob’s your uncle.”
“Look, all I want to know is whether you can fix the tire!” Tris said impatient
“Well? Can it be fixed?”
“I tol’ ya sheila, it looks pretty rooted.”
“Look. My name is not Sheila. And what the hell do you mean by ‘rooted’?”
Kaidan began to grin in spite of himself. He’d been trying hard to keep a straight face throughout the exchange. He knew that New Queenslanders prided themselves on their use of Old Australian slang. His first visit to the planet had been pretty confusing and he’d ended in more than one misunderstanding until he’d managed to pick up a few phrases himself. Although he knew Shepard was close to the end of her rope, right now the look on her face was priceless and he just couldn’t resist teasing a little.
“You know, rooted, Tris.” His grin widened.
The man turned to him, obviously relieved to find someone speaking the same language. “Yeah, she looks pretty buggered ta me and I dunno if I’ve got any. Might have to send to Woop Woop for one unless the servo can knock something up for ya by this arvo. It won’t cost ya big bikkies either.”
Tris began to scowl in earnest. What the hell are they talking about? Who’s this “she” that’s buggered? Do they mean me? Buggered as in…buggered!? She shot the man a look that could have melted steel. “I swear if you even infer that I will shoot you!”
Startled, the towie looked at Kaidan. “What’s wrong with ya missus? She got a few roos loose in the top paddock or what? “ Kaidan had never seen Tris looking so tweaked. Something about her facial expression, stuck between perplexity and anger was so comical that he couldn’t help but laugh even as he sympathized with her confusion. The native slang was part of the planet’s charm, unless of course, you needed to communicate something urgently.
Glaring at both men equally Tris said, “Look. Either one of you hyenas can explain what’s so damn funny or you can both experience the joy of my boot up your ass. Your choice.” The two men looked at each other. Kaidan started laughing and found he couldn’t stop although he really knew he should before someone got hurt. Finally, he choked out, “All he’s saying is that he can't fix it here. It's broken. We’ll have to go to the nearest garage for it to be fixed.”
“All that for “I can’t fix it?!” I don’t believe it! And that's not what I heard him say, Kaidan! He said “she’s buggered!” So what exactly was he insinuating about my sex life and what the hell does it have to do with our current situation?” She grabbed at her hip, clearly reaching for her non-existent pistol. Kaidan felt a moment’s relief that planetary restrictions required them to travel unarmed. He knew her well enough to know that although she did have a sense of humor, it didn’t exist when she was exhausted. Still, he couldn’t resist teasing her just a little bit more.
“Uh Shepard…Tris...no need to chuck a wobbly!”
“Oh no! Not you TOO! “ Something about not being able to respond with fire power left her feeling incredibly vulnerable and she found herself unintentionally responding with the only other weapon left in her arsenal. Horrified as her lip began to tremble she thought, Take a deep breath Tris. Saviors of the universe don’t cry. Especially not over something as silly as this. They take action.
Kaidan stopped. She is in bad shape. “Aw Shepard, don’t take it so hard.” He reached out to pull her in for a kiss. She responded by tucking herself against his body in a way that demanded response and the kiss , initially intended to be a quick peck, deepened into something much longer and much more involved.
The towie stared. What was wrong with these two? First the woman snapped at him for no apparent reason, fussing about his use of perfectly ordinary and straightforward language and then the pair of them started mucking about like a couple of randy teenagers. “Crikey! If you two are gunna start rooting, everyone will be stopping for a Captain Cook! I mean…Hey! Take it easy! What do you think it is, bush week?”
Tris and Kaidan, suddenly aware of their audience, broke apart looking slightly embarrassed. The towie continued, “There’s a motel and a servo down the road. Your PTV’s knackered for the moment but hop in and I’ll drop you there, it’s only a couple a hundred clicks down the road. Dunno if it'll be chock a block though.” He grinned at Kaidan, "Fair dinkum, maaate. G'donya."
“Hang on there a minute. “ She turned to Kaidan, “ He said “root” again. I thought you said rooted meant broken?” When Kaidan didn’t answer she sighed, “Oh, forget it, I really don't want to know. Let’s just get to where we’re going."
Most Australian words or phrases have more than one meaning depending on how they are used in a sentence and what inflections are added to the words.
Australians also have a habit of stringing words together and dropping letters so ‘have a good weekend’ becomes ‘aveagoodweekend.
Also, depending on what State or region you’re in words can change. For example, a swimming costume can be called a cozzie, swimmers, togs, or bathers. Pronunciation can change too. In Sydney the word ‘castle’ is pronounced ‘carsel’, whereas in Victoria it is pronounced ‘cassel’
Rhyming slang is one of the few occasions where we actually add words rather than shortening them. A bag of fruit is a suit, Reg Grundies or just grundies are underwear or undies, Pat Malone means you are on your own, and a Noah’s ark is a shark.
A few roos loose in the top paddock
– crazy, mentally challenged
– I beg your pardon, or what was that? Not to be confused with “oi” which is either a cheer as in ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi’ or a way of getting someones attention, usually yelled at the top of your voice, similar to ‘hey’ or ‘hey you’
– expensive, lots of money. Not to be confused with bikkies which are biscuits or cookies.
Bloody – the great Australian adjective. Used to describe something really good (bloody good, you bloody little beaut) to something bad (bloody hell)
– usually the response to hearing something is wrong, but can be added to a phrase to give it more effect : where the bloody hell are ya?, or how the bloody hell are ya.
– once again depending on how it’s used in a sentence and the tone of voice. Can be a greeting- “Bob, ya bloody wombat, owareya”, or a derogatory term “Don’t get me started on that bloody wombat”. Mongrel or galah can be substituted for wombat.
- extremely lazy person
Bob’s your uncle
– it will be ok
Bourke – NSW country town. Just this side of Woop Woop (see below)
– an exclamation of surprise, concern, or disgust, as in “Bugger!” or “Bugger me,” or “I’ll be buggered” or a description of someone as in he’s a silly bugger.
– to go away or leave as in “I wish he’d bugger off” or “I’m gonna bugger off now.”
– rhyming slang for look
Chock a block
– A place or thing is full if its chock a block. A person can be chock a block after eating too much
Chuck a wobbly
- get angry. Can also be substituted with ‘chuck a spaz’
– an exclamation, usually for expressing surprise or concern
don’t know. Not to be confused with ‘dunny’ which is a toilet.
- insulated cooler box primarily kept for keeping beer cold.
Fair crack of the whip (or fair suck of the sav) -
give me/it a break
– someone or something genuine. Can be a question: Fair dinkum? meaning is that the truth, is that for real
Flat out like a lizard drinking
– really busy (or in Aussie ‘ruly bizzy’)
Frog n toad
– rhyming slang for road
Get a dog up ya -
usually means have a drink (alcohol), but can be an insult
– good day, hello
– good on you, can be shortened even more to just ‘onya’
Give you a tingle
– contact you, usually by phone
- conservationist, usually said in disgust with the adjective ‘bloody’ in front of it
Owsitgoin or owareya
– how is it going or how are you. Can sound more like a statement than a question.
broken, dead(or dying), in trouble, or tired. It’s knackered means it’s broken or dead. I’m knackered means I’m tired. You’ll be knackered when she gets hold of you means you’ll be in trouble.
Knock something up
– throw something together quickly. Not to be confused with getting knocked up which means getting pregnant, or knock off time which is the time you finish work.
Look like a stunned mullet
– in complete astonishment or confusion
– a greeting for friends or strangers alike. Its meaning can change depending on how many ‘a’ sounds are added and the inflexion given to them. It can also express surprise, disgust, or joy.
Playing silly buggers
- acting silly or annoying
– meaning depends on how it’s used in a sentence. Its rooted means it’s broken. I’m rooted means I’m exhausted. I need a root means I need sex.
service station, garage, petrol station (I guess that’s gas station for the Yanks)
– term for a female, mostly used by men.
– chucking a sickie means taking a day of work, usually when you aren’t sick.
– a break for morning or afternoon tea
- an exclamation, usually for expressing surprise or concern
– to, not to be confused with ‘ta’ or ‘taa’ (pronounced tar) which means thanks/thank yo
This arvo -
- a can of cold beer, also known as a coldie or cold one. Not to be confused with tinny, a small aluminum (that’s aluminum for the Yanks) boat. Both can be spelt either way with ‘ie’ or ‘y’ at the end.
– a tow truck driver, also known as vultures.
What do you think it is, Bush week?
– means what the hell are you doing/thinking
– a mythical faraway place, can also be substituted with ‘back o’ Bourke’, meaning a long way away
– you. The plural is yous or youse (pronounced use). Not to be confused with ewes – female sheep