Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Even though this is an English-speaking country, I'm still having my fair share of communication snafus. Especially in towns like Toowoomba and St George, I sometimes get grimaces when I open my mouth and speak, as well as a fair number of blank stares and giggles. Sometimes people use it as a handy excuse not to help me out. I have to fight the feeling of reluctance when it comes to speaking-- force myself to make phone calls and the like. As I walked back from the post office the other day after a confusing set of misunderstandings between me and the cashier, I felt a new-found empathy for people in the US (0r anywhere) who might speak the language perfectly but face prejudice, ridicule, and self-consciousness because of their accent. It can feel like a big hurdle.

On the lighter side, communication difficulties have led to many a hilarious moment. Here are a few:

Me: What time are you coming in tomorrow?
Jason: Well it won't be sparrow's fart.
Me: Uhh...
At this, our section of the office erupted in laughter and Jason explained to me that the sparrow gets the early worm, after which he has a nice fart. Translation: I won't be in very early, that's for sure.

Me: Where is the new supply closet?
Terrie: Supply closet? Ah, you would be meaning the stationary cupboard. The closest we've got to a closet is the water closet-- the loo.

Jason: That's a neat honey squeeze bottle you've got.
Me: Yeah, I had to get it because it had this cute koala bear on it.
Everyone in unison: A KOALA IS NOT A BEAR!
Much laughter ensued.

Me: Why don't we meet at Coffee Club on Margaret Street?
Neil: Sure. Your shout?
Me: Huh?
Neil: Your shout?
Neil: Are you buying me coffee?
Me: Ohh! Sorry, I haven't got the slang down quite yet.
Lots of chortling from the office mates.
[Everyone seemed to think this was one I should know. Has anyone ever heard "your shout" in a bar or other situation where you're treating people in the US? Am I just oblivious?]

Other things I'm learning:
peanut butter = peanut paste
dunny = toilet
The Lodge = the Prime Minister's residence in Canberra
"Fanny" and the verb "to root" are not appropriate. Ever. Poor Carrie Underwood has received a lot of attention lately for saying she would be rooting for one of the rugby teams while she was here. Oooooops!


  1. you are not oblivious, they just are speaking a foreign tongue. We should invade and teach them american.

  2. awwww hahahahahaha!! Acadia this is great!! I'm totally with you on the communication thing--glad that it provides so comical moments!!

  3. a fanny is a vagina right? but what is "to root?" im going blank on that one.