Tuesday, October 19, 2010

English as she is spoken!

Who knew that English is not always English? We Aussies are a strange bunch and we use a lot of words that are typically Australian and no one else has any idea what we’re talking about. In these days of the internet, living in Australia and writing for American and English publishing houses presents no barrier. Or at least, none that I was aware of…until I got hit with my first few rounds of edits.

The first time I used ‘wheelie bin’ in one of my manuscripts my editor sent me a big “huh?’ comment in my edits. That’s what we call our rubbish bins. Big green plastic suckers with two wheels on the back to make it easier to move it to the sidewalk on collection day. Now I’ll use trash can instead so I don’t confuse the reader. Your sidewalk is our footpath. I use knickers while my American friends call them panties. But the one that cracked me up was the word ‘fanny.’ We had some American friends come out to stay with us and they couldn’t understand why we burst out laughing when the wife chipped her hubby for smacking her on the fanny. Not funny, you think? It is where we live. In America, fanny might mean your rear end, but no so over here. Er…same general location, but a bit more toward the front of the body. You get my drift? Over here, smacking someone on the fanny takes on a whole different meaning.

We have another word that confuses a lot of overseas visitors. The word ‘pissed.” Yes, I know it’s used in America, but we’ve made an art form out of using this word so many different ways. For explanation purposes, I’m going to leave you with
an excerpt from my Ellora’s Cave release HONEY TRAP that hopefully will explain it all.

Honey Trap by Alexis Fleming Publisher: Ellora's Cave Publishing ISBN: 9781419925269 LINK: BLURB: Seductive scents…torrid suspense…
For Australian scientist Kyla Harris, danger is not her middle name, but when she invents a cologne that acts as an aphrodisiac, she becomes embroiled in a CIA case. Sexy American agent Logan Matthews is assigned as her bodyguard when someone tries to steal her sensual formula. Kyla finally has the edge in the war of the sexes and Logan Matthews is her target. A little fun in bed…on the desk…in the Aussie bush— what better way to test her cologne? It’s just a shame Logan’s only reacting because of the formula…or is he? EXCERPT She shivered as his warm breath wafted across her neck. Damn, so much for keeping her libido in check. Her mind kicked into gear and she remembered the effects of her earlier experiment. She had no idea how long this stuff would last. She didn’t want Logan attracted to her because of some aphrodisiac she may have invented. She jerked herself away from him. “Hey, no sniffing. I’m not some bitch in heat.” “I can assure you, darlin’, there’s no way I would compare you to a female dog.” Logan grinned and went back for another sniff. All of a sudden, Kyla smelled the rancid odor of old garlic and onions and felt the sloppy, wet slide of a tongue trailing up the opposite side of her neck. She jumped to her feet so quickly her chair overbalanced and crashed to the floor. Spinning around, she found Greasy on his knees, his hands clasped in prayer supplication. “Come home with me, Kyla. I’ll tell you anything you want to know.” “That’s it! Enough already.” Kyla bent down and grabbed her purse from under the table. “I’m going home to have a shower.” “Hey, it’s okay. I can deal with this old fellow.” Logan stood and faced Greasy. “You remember me telling you the lady isn’t interested? Well, the same still holds. Now how about you be a good boy and head off?” Greasy looked crestfallen, but he stood and shuffled out the door. Logan slid his arm around Kyla’s waist and sniffed at her neck again. “See? All over and done with. Now you can stay and we’ll get to know each other better.” She shrugged out of his hold and stepped back, hand held up to ward him off. “Nope, this night is over. I’m heading home.” She looked at her friend. “You coming, Lisa?” “Sorry, Logan. You’re on your own. Why don’t you join the guys at the bar? They’re having a contest to see who can drink the most piss in an hour.” A look of horror flashed across Logan’s face. He opened his mouth to respond then slammed it shut. After an audible swallow, he tried again. “Ah…I, ah…I don’t drink urine!” Kyla pressed her lips firmly together in an effort not to grin. Then she made the mistake of glancing at Lisa. They both dissolved into laughter. When Kyla finally caught her breath, she wiped the tears of mirth from her eyes and faced Logan. “Looks like we’ll have to educate you. Here in Australia, if someone asks if you want to go drink piss, they’re asking if you want to go out for a beer.” “You’re kidding, right?” Logan shook his head. “This country is crazy.” “You think that’s bad? Do you know how many ways we use piss over here?” She held up one finger. “Someone is pissed at you? They’re mad at you.” Lisa held up the next finger. “Someone is taking the piss out of you? They’re making fun of you.” “I’m pissed off? I’m angry.” Kyla waved a hand at Lisa. “Or you’re going to go out and get pissed, as in you’re going to go get drunk.” The two women continued to bounce Aussie slang phrases off one another, laughing all the while. Logan stood there with a bemused look on his face. “Or get into a pissing match. Get into an argument or contest.” “It’s pissing down.” “Pissing against the wind.” “Or you could tell someone to piss off.” Logan waved his hands in the air. “No more. I give up. I’ll never understand Aussie talk.” Kyla gave him a pat on the arm. “It takes time to understand us, but you’ll get there eventually.” She turned and walked toward the door of the bar, Lisa at her side. “Good night, Logan,” she called over her shoulder.

Clear as mud? As I said, we Aussies are a strange bunch at times.

Alexis Fleming


Alexis Fleming said...

My apologies, everyone. Somehow I lost my spacing for the excerpt. Ack!

Cat Marsters/Kate Johnson said...

Still made sense to me! I think Aussie English is a lot like English English; I still crack up when I hear the 'fanny' misuse and as for someone getting pissed...wow, angry people get drunk a lot!