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bogan

American words to Australian
Dictionary, My LA story, Posts

American words I just don’t understand

It’s not uncommon for Americans to have no idea what I’m talking about.  We have lots of slang words and I often like to use them just for laughs.  But every now and again there are some American words I just don’t understand.

And, as much as Americans love our accent we say words differently so it sometimes takes a bit for them to understand us.

(Eg. Alternate. We say al-ter-nate, Americans say alter-nate).

Ever noticed that most non-English speaking people talk with an American accent?

I think that’s why their accents aren’t foreign to us–we’re so used to hearing them.  Whether it be on TV, the movies, a Swedish person, even Canadians (sorry, couldn’t resist. Just like you can’t tell the difference between an Australian accent and a New Zealand one, I can’t tell the difference between yours).

It usually also means we know all the different words they use.

Fanny

Yes, even “fanny”.  Fanny might not make Americans laugh but it always makes us Australians (and Brits etc) laugh out loud–rolling on the floor laughing out loud.

To let you in on the secret, in Australia a fanny is your vagina.  So imagine how funny it is for us when we translate your politically correct sentence, “I have a sore fanny” or “We need to take our fanny packs with us”: what pres tell is a vagina pack, dare we ask what we need it for and where do we get it?

For the 1% of Australians who might not know, and if you haven’t already worked it out, fanny to Americans is a bum.

Rooter

And even rooter. There are ads for it, vans driving around with it–there are rooters everywhere. Again, our conservative American friends have a word they happily throw around that in our part of the world is a “rude word”.  If not a rude word most definitely a socially uncomfortable word for them (we don’t have a problem with it AT all).

To root is the act of having sex.  As in, “hey love, wanna root?”  Perhaps some of these Hollywood men you’ve been hearing about in the news might have used that line had they known about the act of rooting.

The rooter in America is the generic term for a drain cleaning service.  So we have business names/websites like:

Rooter Man

Team Rooter

And even Rooty Rooter. He must be a really good rooter!

Then you have every Charles-, Dick- & Harry-the-Rooter (or should I say Chuck, Archer & Parker).  All these American men publicising that they’ll come to root for you.

Speaking of rooting for you. I also know that one.  “Rooting for” is the American term for supporting your team. In a sentence, “I root for the Dodgers”. If I said I root for the Dodgers at home I’d be classed as a first class slut–some form of groupie happy to put myself out for the entire Dodgers team.

Yes, yes, our humour is very much of the gutter variety.  And we’re fine with that.

American words I just don’t understand

But there are some words that I don’t know–or don’t know the slang for might be more accurate.

At tennis my friend was coming clean that she lets her kids have their passes every so often.  We had this entire conversation with her telling me it’s bad (no it’s not), asking what I think (yeah, it’s fine) and saying they don’t do it all the time (ok, fine).

I’m looking at her thinking did I miss what the pass was for? Her kids are young, where do they need passes for? I gave a little chuckle. It’s our turn to be in on the court.  Yay, we won, off to the other side.

Then, when we got to the other side, she called me out on it. Oops! She’s so used to not understanding what I say that she recognised that blank look on my face and nervous giggle.

The “pass” was a pac (soft c–said with that American accent so the a sound is not the “ah” sound but an “a” sound that’s quick.  And so “pass” is actually short for pacifier.  As in dummy.

Oh! Yes, I know you guys say Pacifier. I just didn’t recognise “pac” I thought you were saying pass!

Dummy

So a Pacifier is a Dummy in Australia. One of our friends from Shanghai’s favourite phrase of ours is “spit the dummy” which means “chuck a hissy fit” or have a little tanty (tantrum). And no, I have no idea why we call it a dummy.

Bogan

While I’m at it I’ll give the Americans another favourite word of ours: bogan.

A bogan can be loosely translated as “trailer trash”. Traditionally they had an outfit which consisted of way-too-tight jeans, a flannelette shirt (flanno) and ugg boots.  Yes, ugg boots.  Only bogans actually wore ugg boots out in public, the rest of us only wore them at home.

Here is a bogan:

Bogans

A family full of them actually

But then things started blurring–there were cool incredibly tight jeans, flannos were deemed respectable (depending on who wore them or how they wore them of course) and ugg boots became a thing.

And bogans also became proud of being bogans.  And so the term “cashed-up bogan” was born.  This is when a bogan did good and all of a sudden had loads of money.  They would carry on being bogans but now they had lots of money to throw around. The long-standing belief then was, well, money can’t buy you class.

Americans have bogans too. Our family calls them yogans (Yankee bogans).

Thongs

I think Americans know this one but it’s one of my favourites.  We wear thongs on our feet as well. As in flip flops.

In America (& probably every other place in the world) thongs are undies.  And I know this.  But I do love calling out to the kids in public, “Don’t forget your thongs” or “Are you wearing your thongs”.

It’s important to keep a sense of humour.

So technically that was one word I don’t understand. There are more I’m sure. But that was funny and then I could share with my American audience some of the words we hold dear to our heart–and why some of your words make us laugh.

Halloween in LA

On another note I first wrote about Halloween in LA a few years ago.  I made the observation that we don’t really celebrate Halloween in Australia.  But the fact is we do.  Well many people do anyway.  It depends what neighbourhood you live in.

We get the impression we don’t celebrate it in Australia because it’s not as widespread but when you think about it not every house is dressed up and not everyone goes trick or treating here either.

It’s just more of an event here: they dress up at work, even people going about their normal business dress up.

In Australia though, we tend to dress up as “spooky” things–blood, guts and gore.  Here in the US Halloween is a giant dress up day–you can be whatever you like, it doesn’t have to be scary.  I hadn’t changed since tennis that morning so I pronounced that I was dressed as a tennis player. Tick. All fine.

Our neighbourhood decided they’d start trick or treating locally this year.  It’s a big step to be able to trick or treat in your own neighbourhood rather than going to someone else’s (which is the thing to do). We’d never think to head to someone else’s ‘hood and knock on their doors for lollies (candy).

But when houses (or streets) go all out, they go all out.  Did you catch my Instagram post where one house had a crashed 747 in their front yard? Very cool.

A plane is crashed in someone’s front yard. Oh wait … it’s just Halloween in Hollywood. #halloween #hollywood

A post shared by It Started in LA 🌴 Gwenny John (@itstartedinla) on

 

Lead up to Thanksgiving

And now it’s November 1 it’s time to fast forward to Thanksgiving–the longest and only four-day long weekend in the American holiday calendar.  And because of that I have to leave you now to research what we’ll do for the four-day weekend–we all need a break.

Enjoy the rest of the week as we head into the weekend. Catch you soon!

xxIt Started in LAxx

 

Keep Clear
My LA story, Posts

Driving in LA: take your life into your own hands

One of my friends, a fellow Blogger, recently posted about the frustrations of driving in Sydney.  What a great book this would make.  Imagine a book on driving in many different cities in the world.  In the Philippines it would be the art of turning two lanes into five.  In Shanghai it would be the art of making your own lanes–two wide-ish lanes can make three.  In Melbourne it would be the art of speeding up the minute the car in front of you indicates to change into your lane.  Obviously so said car can’t get in front of you.

Ahh the idiosyncrasies of navigating the roads in different cities.

Short of publishing a book I thought I’d contribute to her blog post by sharing my pain of driving in LA.  Without further adieu here are my top three pet peeves about driving/drivers in LA.

And, as a bonus prize I give you three things you should know before getting behind the wheel in LA.  And it’s not they drive on the wrong side of the road.

Peeve #1: KEEP CLEAR

For God’s sake.  It’s universal: in Australia, the UK, America they use the words “Keep Clear”.  No translation issues here.  So why the F%#@* can’t LA drivers understand??? Renowned worldwide for its traffic congestion, LA drivers are concerned about one thing and one thing only: themselves.

Keep Clear

Keep Clear is a foreign concept for Los Angelenos drivers

Listen up people: if you didn’t block the Keep Clear area I wouldn’t have to push my way in and block the whole road.  Try it sometime.  I’m pretty sure it won’t kill you.

Peeve #2: INDICATE

Living Life at 56 mentions it’s a Sydney phenomenon but I can assure you LA cars don’t come with indicators (or blinkers as the case may be–did I just use an American word ahead of an Australian one?).

Well they can’t.  Possibly.  Turn left, right, change lanes, four-way stop, change from the carpool lane across four lanes to the exit a freeway in 10 metres and there’s no sign of an indicator.

No, cars in LA most definitely don’t come with indicators.  We don’t need them here.

Peeve #3: STAY IN YOUR BLOODY LANE

Oh yeah, this one’s a beauty.  I live up in the hills around Mulholland Drive.  It’s not a very wide road and neither are the lanes.  It’s windy and the drops are …. well …. steep and unforgiving.

Why then are drivers incapable of keeping in their own lane?  I’ll often be coming the other way to find a car well and truly hogging my side of the road as if he’s coming in for a cuddle.  I can’t just jump on top of you it’s a crash or it’s off the canyon.  And I’m not going over.

Let’s make it easy for everyone: keep on your own side.

Now that I’ve shared that with you it’s time for me to take some good advice.

Keep Calm

Keep Calm & Drink Cocktails

 

Driving in LA can lead you to drink.

Three things you should know about driving in LA

 

  1. The more expensive your car the bigger hoon you are.  There are no bogans in LA.  No.  It’s great, everyone’s hip and groovy or trendy or stylish.  But when you have an expensive car you turn into a bogan.  Automatically.
  2. Overtaking is always allowed: suburban streets, winding your way around Mulholland Drive, can’t see the on-coming traffic.  Don’t worry about it.  Overtaking is encouraged.  At all times.
  3. There is no such thing as a speed limit.  Technically as long as you’re the same speed as the traffic you’re OK.  So technically speed limits don’t count for much.  It’s not until you get someone in the car from out of town or you start driving back in a country where speed limits are enforced that you realise you actually drive quite fast here.

So now when you come to LA you can drive as the locals do.  I remember the first time I got on the freeway I thought I was going to be blown away by the g-force of the cars passing me by, leaving me for dead.  I was doing 100kmph or thereabouts.  Try changing lanes, it can be scary.  It doesn’t take long before you’ve got the hang of it and your speed is edging upwards of 70/80 mph.  No wonder the freeway accidents are big.

It’s pretty tough to get around without a car.  Acquaint yourself with driving LA style and you’ll be fine.  Good luck!

xx It Started in LA xx

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