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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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:
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).
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.
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
Happy planning for Thanksgiving, we celebrate it down here too at the arse end of Australia too. When I lived over there everyone was in fits whenever I said beer! Sadly that could have been my 15 minutes of fame. I am going to love your blog!
That’s so funny–beer is such a strange word for them to laugh at! Happy Thanksgiving to you too down in the arse-end of Australia. lol.
It’s called a dummy because it’s a fake (dummy) nipple.
Oh!!!!! That makes so much sense! Thank you!
“Bogan” is a great word! I figured to try and culturally appropriate, er, import bogan to the states via Americanbogan.com because we Americans desperately need some color to our language. We’re too basic. 😛 Forgive my use of “fanny pack,” though. We Yanks just don’t know any better, and I’m sticking with it, just to make my Aussie friends laugh.
I love saying fanny pack–always get a kick out of it!