The larrikin spirit manifest in our unique lingo is still going strong. However we are also growing and maturing – as reflected in the relinquishment of outdated slang that comes across as unrefined and perhaps vulgar.
Our iconic national slang is by no means disappearing; it is being reinterpreted with a new sophistication, and without the cringe. It is normal for language to evolve over time; to shift meaning or spelling, to be lost, reinvented and created anew.
Our language and sense of humour provide insight into who we are as a people, and say a lot about our Aussie spirit. Phrases or sayings identified in our survey as encapsulating the Australian spirit included: “you little ripper!”, “she’ll be right, mate”, “no worries”, “I’m a happy little Vegemite” and “good on ya mate for having a go!” Of course, anything ending in “mate” is well regarded!
Here are our Top 5s and the percentage of Australians who use these words and phrases:
There is a self-conscious cringe factor which sets in with phrases like “dinky-di”, “crikey” and “Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi oi oi!” When asked why they wouldn’t use some Australian slang, the most common response given by respondents in our research was because it was unrefined or “ocker”.
Other commonly mentioned reasons were that it was rude and offensive, old-fashioned and that respondents simply didn’t know any or what they mean. Other less mentioned reasons included that it was too “bush” and that it just didn’t suit them.
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