Australia Literature and Language

Questions and information about literature and languages of Australia.

1,765 Questions
Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Australia Literature and Language

What is the Australian slang word for girls?

The Australian slang term for girls or women is sheila.

Australia Literature and Language

What do Australians call a sheepherder?

Someone who musters (rounds up) the sheep is usually not distinguished from those who round up cattle. They are generally called jackaroos or, if driving the animals over long distances, they are known as drovers.

Someone who owns a large station with thousands of head of sheep is simply a sheep station owner.

This is not strictly true. In the old days people were actually employed to camp out with the sheep to guard them from dingoes and theft. They were called shepherds. As dingoes were more controlled and the Aboriginals (who resented the intrusion of the sheep) were decimated, this practice ceased and the word fell out of use.

The description of a drover is correct but a jackaroo (or if a woman a jillaroo) is actually someone who is learning the ropes so that he or she can eventually become a manager. The people who do the day-to-day work on a large grazing property ( a station) are known as station hands, while workers on smaller properties are called farmhands.

Australia Literature and Language

What does flog mean in Australian?

The word "flog" originally meant to whip someone, and was used in regard to convicts being flogged as punishment.

Nowadays, the term means to push something too hard, e.g. "flog the car" means to push a car beyond its limits.

Driving Times
Australia Literature and Language

What is the distance between Brisbane and Darwin?

The road distance from Brisbane to Darwin is 3422km, travelling via Longreach and Mt Isa. Travel time is an estimated 32 hours, non-stop.

The flight distance from Brisbane to Darwin is 2848km.

Australia Literature and Language

What was Henry Lawson recognized for?

Henry Lawson was a famous Australian poet. He was recognized for his poems, ballads and short stories he wrote during his life.

Lawson was a contemporary of Australia's other favourite author, Banjo Paterson, and one of Australia's best-known fiction writers of the colonial period. Much of Lawson's works dwelt on the Australian bush, accurately depicting the difficult conditions of life on dry, dusty outback stations and in bush towns. Unlike his contemporary, A.B. "Banjo" Paterson, he did not romanticise life in the bush, and any humour he displayed tended to be dry and sardonic, almost bordering on the melancholy.

Languages and Cultures
Australia Literature and Language

What languages are spoken in Australia?

Australia has no official language and no declared national language. English is the default language throughout the country.

According to the official CIA World factbook, English is spoken by 78.5% of Australia's population. After English, Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, Mandarin and Vietnamese, in that order, are the most widely-spoken languages, and languages of most cultures are represented and spoken by Australians.

The CIA World Factbook lists, after English: Chinese 2.5%, Italian 1.6%, Greek 1.3%, Arabic 1.2% and Vietnamese 1%.

Another 8.2% have been recorded as speaking other languages, and 5.7 % are unspecified. These include indigenous Australian languages, spoken, as well as English, by 50% of indigenous Australians. 11% of indigenous people speak an indigenous language as their main language.

There are many remaining Aboriginal languages (about seventy) spoken by the Indigenous people, and these are all unique. For example, Ngarrindjeri is the dialect of the lower Murray and Coorong area, and this is quite different to, say, the Arrernte or Arunda of central Australia.

A large number of people in the original German-settled areas of the Barossa and Riverina maintain their German heritage, customs and language; as with all countries where the population is largely immigrant, this is common throughout Australia, and communites everywhere celebrate their heritage - including their languages - from all parts of the world, in daily life and regular festivals.

All capital cities and many regional areas have language centres, frequently part of cultural organisations, which offer language studies as well as the opportunity to learn more about the many cultures which make up the Australian community.

For a list of aboriginal languages in Australia, past and present, please see the related question.
predominately english
Every main global language is spoken in Australia (English, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Arabic, Hindi, Russian, German, etc.) However, the main language of Australia is English.
English. ;D
Australian English.
Aboriginal (natives)-

There are more than 200 clans/groups with their own tongue


range from English to Portuguese, but mostly English. Because Australia a multicultural country, it has many different people from different countries.


I live there
The language largely associated with Australia is English, however, as with practically every country there are many different languages spoken. Besides English, Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese, and Greek are some of the other languages spoken in Australia. The English speaking population has a distinct vocabulary and accent.
The main lauguage of Australia is English.
Mainly English, but there is a small percent that speak French, Italian, Chinese, and Greek.

Very few native French speakers actually. Australia has a number of Aboriginal languages, with some speakers who don't speak English, though these are mostly in remote areas. As for recent immigrant populations, plenty of Hindi and other South Asian languages, Arabic, Turkish, Chinese languages, Korean. Vietnamese and other South East Asian languages. Russian and several Slavic languages. Most immigrants speak at least some English.
English is the language spoken by the people of Australia.
English is the main language spoken in Australia, but it is not the official language, as Australia has no declared official language.

English is spoken by 78.5% of Australia's population. After English, Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, Mandarin and Vietnamese, in that order, are the most widely-spoken languages, and languages of most cultures are represented and spoken by Australians.
English is spoken by 80% of Australia's population. Other languages spoken by small groups include Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese and Greek.

The languages of the Australian aborigines make up many more languages in Australia. To see a list of aboriginal languages in Australia, see the related question.
There are more than 200 Australian Indigenous languages. The link below will tell you more about them

Of course there are migrants who still speak their native language, but officially, it's English.
There is/was no single native language of Australia. Pama-nyungan is the largest indigenous language group of the original Aboriginal Australians, consisting of 160 of the 228 identifiable languages. One of the languages within this family group is Arrernta, a dialect of the central Australian desert. Many employers require their employees to learn this language, and it is also taught in some central Australia schools, as it is important to communicate with the Arrernte Aborigines in their own language.
The chief language of Australia is the English language.
Australia has no official language and no declared national language. English is the primary language throughout the country.

According to the official CIA World Factbook after English, Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese, in that order, are the most widely-spoken languages, but the languages of most cultures are represented and spoken by Australians.

50% of indigenous Australians speak one of the roughly 70 indigenous Australian languages remaining in use. 11% of indigenous people speak an indigenous language as their main language.
Haha i think this quite humerous seeing as i am "Australian" unfortunately we do not speak Australian..... we speak English although some Australians beileve we do have our own language because of our slang way of talking. Some of the most common eg. Crikey (Steve Irwin RIP) is his way getting everyones attention and i guess to say Look Out for his crew. More i guess are Throw more snags on the barbie Americans may think of this as another language unfortunately no. It Means More Sausages On the Barbecue. Also G'day which is just Good Day There are alot of sayings which are just in daily life. I've learned how to talk from parents they did the same so it comes down the line. Hope that helps you out a bit. Catcha Later (link below will help)
Australians speak English.
They do not have an official language in Australia, but the national one is Australian English.

In addition to a form of English established there by the soldiers and criminals who were its first European population, there are some 200 aboriginal languages in Australia, of which a handful are still vital.

Australia Literature and Language

What does the saying fair-weathered friend mean?

Fair weather. Someone who will be around as long as things are nice and easy but if things get rough, they will bail on you.

Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Australia Literature and Language

In Aussie slang what does spewin' me guts out mean?

It can literally mean, "I am vomiting violently and excessively" (cause unspecified).

Practical application: "I must've eaten a crook prawn. I woke up spewin' me guts out last night."

Alternatively, it can mean that "I am extremely unsatisfied with the way that turned out" (sacked unjustly, my team lost due to poor umpiring, my wife left with my best mate).

Practical application: "The missus took off with Bill yesterday. I'm spewin' me guts out, she didn't do the washing before she left."

Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Australia Literature and Language

What does billy mean in Australian slang?

"Billy" did not originate as a slang term. A billy was a tin held over an open campfire for the purpose of boiling water. It was commonly used by outdoor workmen such as stockmen and jackaroos, and it was also used by people on the road, such as swagmen.

Nowadays, the term "boiling the billy" usually refers to a genuine billy, which many people still use when camping. Alternatively, it can mean putting the kettle on for a cup of tea.

Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Australia Literature and Language

What word is Australian slang for girl?


History of Australia
Lyrics and Sheet Music
Australia Literature and Language

Why is Waltzing Matilda so important?

Waltzing Matilda is important to Australians because it celebrates the triumph of the "underdog", the ultimate victory of the down-trodden against the law (as represented by the troopers).

Banjo Paterson based Waltzing Matilda on a true story. The central character is based on a man named Samuel "Frenchy" Hoffmeister. In September 1894, on the Dagworth sheep station north of Winton, some shearers were in a strike that turned violent. The strikers fired off their rifles and pistols in the air and then set fire to the woolshed at the Dagworth Homestead, killing over a hundred sheep. The owner of Dagworth Homestead and three policemen pursued Hoffmeister who, rather than be captured, shot and killed himself at a billabong.

At the time Paterson wrote the ballad, Australia was in the grip of patriotic "Federation fever", and the feeling that Australia (the underdog) was about to shrug off the influence of "Mother England". Paterson was a patriot who represented the cause for Federation, and his song inspired Australians to fight for independence (no matter that full independence was not achieved until 1986).

More information about the story behind Waltzing Matilda can be found at the related link below.

Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Australia Literature and Language

What is the meaning of the Australian slang 'arvo'?

'arvo' or 'sarvo'
afternoon or this afternoon

Australia Literature and Language

How do you say Merry Christmas in Australian?

I have mostly heard them say Happy Christmas!

Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Australia Literature and Language
Urban Slang

What is the Australian slang word grog mean?

Grog is a slang term for alcohol.

Job Training and Career Qualifications
Australia Literature and Language

What jobs are there for people interested in languages?

Jobs Using LanguagesIf you are interested in languages, one option is to become a translator. There is a high demand for workers who can speak many different languages and the salary is high.

A more academic route would be to study linguistics and become a college professor.

You could also become a language teacher or maybe an au pair in a different country.

Please note the distinction between interpreters and translators. Interpreters translate orally, translators in writing. The former is better for people who can work well under pressure, are NOT perfectionists, are confident and are able to keep going. It also requires excellent powers of concentration.

Most of the demand for (written) translation is in technical subjects and law.

Make sure that you have at least 2-3 foreign languages, including one that isn't widely learned - say something like Bulgarian or Polish or Modern Greek. For translating you also need very good written English. (You just can't afford to be the sort of person who is confused about the meanings of 'allusion', 'illusion' and 'delusion'. :)

Incidentally, a degree in linguistics won't help you to 'use languages': it's the study of language in general, often at a very high level of abstraction.

ADDITIONSome of the German universities have excellent Interpreters' [and Translators'] Schools ("Dolmetscher-Institute") attached to them, for example, Heidelberg, Munich and the Universit�t des Saarlandes in Saarbr�cken. Entry is very competitive, but these places all have an excellent reputation.
Australia Literature and Language

How many squatters tried to capture jolly swagman in waltzing Matilda?


Word and Phrase Origins
Bodies of Water
Australia Literature and Language

What is a billabong?

A billabong is a large pond that is formed when a river or creek changes direction, and the billabong is cut off from the main stream of water.

A billabong is not just any pond of water or watering hole; it is a waterhole along a creek.

History, Politics & Society
Australia Literature and Language

What nation does not have English as a national language - England Australia Peru or Canada?

Peru does not have the English language.

Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Australia Literature and Language

What is thank you and see you soon in Australian slang?

Thank you - Thanks, cheers, thanks mate, Ta.

See you soon - catchya later, seeya later, catchya.

History of Ireland
Australia Literature and Language

Why are so many members of the Luka Boston police and fire departments Irish or descendants of Irish immigrants?

The Irish community has been a big part of Boston for more than one hundred years. Early Irish immigrants found working for the state/city benefitted them. They passed this belief along to their children. But also, and perhaps more important, Irish people have always stuck together, so finding a common ground, such as Catholicism or generations of family members in the same line of work, is deemed important.

The Irish in Boston lived in the poor parts of the city, and took the lowest paying jobs. Policemen were traditionally not paid well, but the work was regular, and better than many laborers positions. When the Boston Police went on strike in 1919, the starting pay had not changed for decades. Under those conditions, it was natural for the Irish to seek out police work. As late as the early post-war years of the 20th century, a streetcar sweeper earned more than a police patrolman.

Australia Literature and Language

What does jackaroo mean in Australian?

"Jackaroo" is an Australian term meaning a stockman, which is someone who helps with mustering sheep and cattle in the outback. They generally help tend for the cattle and/or sheep, as well as helping with general maintenance around the sheep station or cattle station.

Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Australia Literature and Language

What is the meaning of the Australian slang 'avo'?

'Avo' is short for afternoon. It is pronounced "arvo".

Many Australians have a tendency to shorten some words; rather than say, "I'll see you this afternoon", they might say, "I'll see you this avo."

Colleges and Universities
Australia Literature and Language
High School

What are some opinions on kids wearing diapers to school so they won't have to leave class to use the restroom?

I think diapers anytime should be acceptible, I think it would be much less a distraction to just wear them to school or work. Provisions would have to be made for times and places to change but overall I think it would offer another solution to bathroom breaks.
So you don't have to get in trouble.

Bathrooms at school are not nice to go to. The kids do not flush the toilets so the kids who use that toilets next get a surprise. The people who clean the bathrooms go and tell the principal.

I have to wear diapers in school. I dont have a choice. If you can use the toilet then do so.

Entertainment & Arts
English Language
Indigenous Australians
Australia Literature and Language

Does Yumi Yoshimura speak English?

Yes, but she's not comfortable with English. All Japanese students learn English in school, and Yumi would have learned some there. But most students don't become nearly fluent with school English. In any case, Yumi dropped out of high school without finishing, so that wouldn't have helped. In 2003, or so, she spent time in L.A. attending English language classes while Ami was pregnant. She wrote a diary in English which once was available online (but apparently no longer) - it wasn't bad - it certainly established that she was able to communicate in English. Still, she makes it clear in interviews that she is not comfortable with English. Like most people who study a second language, she understands more than she speaks. My experience in Japan suggests that Japanese generally are hesitant to use the English they know. Yumi is that way. She knows, but doesn't want to risk speaking incorrectly. There is also evidence that Yumi is something of a Japanese purist, ready to correct others' use of the her language. That would also explain why she is reluctant to use a language she isn't fluent in. In any event, Yumi is Japanese and she is not interested in being anything but - she's really something of a homebody. If the world would speak with her, let it speak Japanese. I can respect that. (Full disclosure: I am a huge Yumi fan.)

Australia Literature and Language

What does bugger mean?

mean monkeys


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