The Beginner’s Guide to the Australian Language
Pubs in Sydney

Yeah I know what you’re thinking;  Australian people speak English, I speak English, you speak English, what more could there be to learn, really?!

Spend just a few days in Australia and it becomes clear that language barriers do exist….you just have to know how to get round them!

It all starts with a visit to the pub, of course., or  hotels as they’re sometimes called in Australia.  You’re ready to order a pint of whatever it is you’re drinking and suddenly notice something rather alarming;

Wait, those aren’t pint glasses!

Pubs in Sydney
Pubs in Sydney - Courtesy of Creative Commons

No, they’re schooner glasses and it’s basically the norm in Australia for a lager or ale to be served in one.  A schooner is 425ml, about 3/4 of a pint.  A friend told me a few weeks ago that beers are served this way as, if you were to sit in the Australian sun with a pint you’d probably get halfway through and find yourself drinking warm beer (never good) but I also sense it’s something to do with the stricter alcohol rules which Australia also has in place.

There are some pubs where you can buy a pint but you can also ask for something called a pot which holds 285ml  – you’ll often find that you’ll get a free pot of beer with a meal in some pubs as a meal deal.

The above applies to Queensland and Victoria but in New South Wales for some reason a pot is called a middie.

In South Australia and pot is a schooner.

In Western Australia a pot measures 575ml which, being slightly more than a pint, is usually just called a pint by all the English people living there.

Confused yet?

Maybe it’s time for a lie down……but not on the duvet.  Nope, in Australia a duvet is called a doona.

Maybe you wanted to drink at your hostel though instead of at the pub?  For this you’d need to go to the Bottle-O or bottle shop, generally an off license where you can buy 24 bottles or cans in a carton called a slab, a few stubbies (small, 375ml bottle of beer) or a tallie (a long-necked bottle of beer.)

Ooooh and don’t forget the goon; yes, it’s a gross cheap wine in a bag but it’s cheaper this way to get blotto, loose or magotted!

At some point you’re going to have to eat though right?

In Australia a pepper is a capsicum and an aubergine is an eggplant.

A courgette is a zucchini and if you want a toasted sandwich you need to ask for a jaffle.

Thai Dish - chicken with capsicum
Chicken with pepper....I mean, pepper!

A chicken is a chook and a lolly is what we’d probably refer to as sweets or candy.

tasty cheese is cheddar cheese and cheddar cheese is that plastic cheese normally reserved for barbeques and kids lunch boxes.

Want a sausage from the barbeque?  Ask for a snag and if you’re having it in between two pieces of bread it’s a sanger.

Many of the food names though are just shortened versions of the original.  If a word can be shortened you can guarantee that it will be in Australia:

Avocados are avos

Brecky is breakfast

Throw another shrimp (read prawn) on the barbie and get a stubbie from the Esky – an esky is an insulated container for food and drinks, usually taken to the beach to keep your beers cold!

That famous Australian dessert, the pavlova?  Call it a pav.

Need to pop to the corner shop?  Here it’s a milk bar.

And there’s no need to waste your breath asking for a cappuccino, that’s far too much effort, just call it a cap!

And these are just a few of the many ‘Australianisms’ I’ve come across!  Can you think of any more?


May 16, 2012
Haha this is brilliant! Don't forget "thongs" too - that one confused me a LOT x
May 16, 2012
All pretty accurate except a pint is a real pint in Victoria, 560mL. And a sanger is any sandwich, nothing to do with sausages necessarily. Another one that throws people is 'jumper' for what most countries call a sweater.
May 17, 2012
Bahaha, I loved reading this, it's all so true! Kinda glad I grew up in Oz and it's all second nature to me - we don't get what all the fuss is about ;)
May 17, 2012
Actually in the US we say zucchini, eggplant and shrimp too! The rest are new to me too though. Capsicum was the one that throws me for a loop the most!
May 17, 2012
I enjoyed all this when I was in Oz. And I brought a few back with me. My favourite though was "sparrow fart" meaning getting up really early in the morning.
May 17, 2012
As an Aussie, even I found this a good read. A few mistakes, but that could depend on the region in Oz where ya got your information. I also know sanga as a sandwich, and deli as a corner shop (for example). Hundreds more things not in your list, but your readers can just Google, or head down this way themselves ;)
May 17, 2012
Aubergines and courgettes... what silly words!
June 5, 2012
This is quite entertaining, Beverly. I also have this experience about a Asian woman I met whom I asked about the age of her "bub". She looked at me quizzically, probably thinking that I was some kind of a loon. By the way, a "bub" is a baby. =)

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