Monday, January 23, 2012

Colloquialisms...

When writing fantasy we are always looking for ways to bring color, culture and a unique perspective to the world we create.
Although we try to avoid clich├ęs, we can often change or use colloquialisms to add flavor to our writing.
Downunder we have our own set of sayings that are common to our language. As we travel around we come across more colorful and inventive words and phrases to add to available material. It often happens that until my editor questions a certain turn of phrase, I don’t even realize it is an Australian colloquialism.
Anyhow... today I hope we can share some of our sayings. This is a lighthearted topic so please feel free to share your favorite sayings too. If you could mention where they originate from, that would be awesome.
For this article I asked friends for help. Here is what I gathered. I wonder if they are only used here in Australia, or more widely. They seem like common English to me.
Dry as a dead dingo’s donger.  (thirsty or a time of drought) 

Flat out like a lizard drinking.   (busy)

Going off like a frog in a sock.   (upset) 

Running around like a chook without its head. (disorganized)

Tight as a fish swimming backwards. (miserly)

A man on a galloping horse wouldn’t notice the difference. (it will do)

Not the brightest light in the harbor. (harbour in Australia :))
Not the sharpest crayon in the pack.
Two bob short of a quid. (stupid)

How’s that for a bunch of bananas? (good)

Same old, same old. (the usual) 

Good and proper. Used in “You got me good and proper.” (you win)

It stinks like a koala’s backside. (bad smell)

It could kill a brown dog.  (bad taste/smell)

Kick up a stink. (make a fuss)

It’s a dog’s breakfast. (mess)

On the blink. (broken)

As slow as a month of Sundays.  Or
Slow as a wet week. (Time dragging)

Would blow a dog of a chain. (windy)

Don’t get your knickers in a knot. (calm down)

Be that as it may… (offering another point of view)

Makes no never mind. (doesn’t matter)

Don’t get off your bike, I’ll pick up the pump. (calm down)

Words can have two meanings even within the same country. For a simple example ‘scallops’ in NSW are potato coated in batter and deep fried. In Victoria, our neighbor state, scallops are a type of sea food while ‘potato cakes’ are potato coated in batter and deep fried. It makes it confusing when you order incorrectly.  :)

And finally, in answer to Murphy’s Law… I heard of Sod’s Law, “Even if something can’t go wrong, it does go wrong.”

So, now it’s your turn. Do you have any local terms or sayings would you like to share?

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This article has appeared on FANTASY FACTION where the response and shared sayings was terrific. If you would like to see a few more colorful sayings.. take a moment to read the comments there!! They come from around the globe and some will make you laugh, a warning though, some could make you blush.

Lady Rosalie Skinner is the author of The Chronicles of Caleath, three books in the series now available as ebooks. Book Four coming soon... from Museitup Publishing.

1 comment:

Pat McDermott said...

Very entertaining, Rosalie. I use Irish slang in my stories to add a touch of Ireland. Irish or Australian, they're 'the same man with his knee bent'. I have 'a porridge' of them on my own blog and believe I can 'pass myself' in their use. Some of them have me 'astray in the head' trying to figure out what they mean, but I didn't 'come up the river on a bike'. I use the ones that cause no 'botheration' to understand. There, 'all done and dusted.'