Australian slang, known as "strine," is broad and complex enough to be potentially incomprehensible to the visiting English speaker, if necessary. At one end, Australian slang has a masterful ability to replace unnecessarily florid ideas with a no-nonsense substitute. At the other, certain terms are so colorful that they have been adopted overseas.
Visitors to Australia can make rapid headway in being understood by adding the suffix -ie to the shortened form of a word. Thus chewing gum, underwear and mosquitoes become chewies, undies and mozzies respectively, while blowflies, beer cans and sunglasses become blowies, tinnies and sunnies. However, there are limits. Having heard decades of impressions when overseas about throwing shrimps on barbies, not all Aussies appreciate visitor efforts to use the slang for barbecue.
The unpretentious character cherished by Australians is underpinned by slang that hits the nail on the head. Accordingly, the rainy season is the Big Wet, the tropical north of the country the Top End, and the vast stretches of desert in the middle the Outback, or simply the bush -- where a campfire is referred to as bush telly. Other parts of slang are both salient and ironic. Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge is reduced to the Coat Hanger, while beginner surfers are referred to as shark biscuit.
Visitors will hear plenty of slang used daily that offers little clue to its meaning. Strewth, ripper and fair dinkum are all positive words of encouragement or approval, while calling someone a dag, drongo or bludger implies they are an idiot in the first two cases and lazy in the third. Women of any name might be addressed as Sheila, while the dunny is the euphemism-free strine alternative to the restroom.
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