Show artwork for Talkin' Strine: Capturing the Aussie vernacular on stage

Talkin' Strine: Capturing the Aussie vernacular on stage

‘Crikey, this is getting a bit sophisticated.’
Brian, Australia Day

One of the wonderful things about programming Australian works is the opportunity to embrace, laugh, or even groan at the peculiarities of Australian English. Of the 17 plays we have programmed in 2012, nine are Australian works, spanning a wide range of times and places. From Melbourne in the 1950s (Summer of the Seventeenth Doll), to a reflection on the sad fate of the Balibo Five in the 1970s (“National Interest”:), right up to the present day (“Australia Day”: or “On the Production of Monsters”:), our 2012 season explores events of cultural and historical significance, right alongside local tales and familiar faces. And in doing so, we often encounter some of the many Australian-isms that make our language – and culture – so colourful. For example:

‘I dunno. Reckons he’s twice as good as everyone else, I s’pose. Anyway, ‘bout two months ago, flamin’ hot day it was, gettin’ near knock-off time, they had a blue.’
Barney, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

‘We’d been talkin’ one morning, she was trying to describe how she felt about youse comin’ down every year, when in walks this fat feller. Real earbasher he is, always on for a yap.’
Pearl, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

‘Oh my Lord, it’s going to be a stinker.’
Marie, “Australia Day”:.__

‘Robert – looking a bit of a drowned rat there, mate. D’you get the cars moving?’
Brian, “Australia Day”:.

In celebration of our particular brand of English, we’ve rounded up a few key ‘Strine’ words and phrases that pop up in Australian plays (and films, TV, and books) every so often. Do you have any more to add?

Ankle biter: small child
Brass razoo (he hasn’t got a): he’s very poor
Click: kilometre – ‘it’s 10 clicks away’
Cooee, not within: figuratively a long way away, far off
Daks: trousers
Deadset: true, the truth
Earbashing: nagging, non-stop chatter
Full as a goog: drunk or eaten to the excess
Give it a burl: try it, have a go
Have a blue: to have or get in a fight
Have a lend of: to take advantage of somebody’s gullibility (‘he’s having a lend of you’)
Hooroo: goodbye
Kangaroos loose in the top paddock: Intellectually inadequate
Mongrel: despicable person
Mug: friendly insult (‘have a go, yer mug’), gullible person
Rack off: get lost!
Rip snorter: great, fantastic
Shonky: dubious, underhanded
Shoot through: to leave
Stickybeak: nosy person
Stoked: very pleased
Stonkered: beaten, defeated, cornered, perplexed
Woop Woop: invented name for any small unimportant town – ‘he lives in Woop Woop’
Wuss: coward; nervous person or animal
Yakka: work, as in ‘hard yakka’ or hard work

Sort of makes you think of Hard Yakka ads, and Crocodile Dundee, doesn’t it? But if you think Australian slang – and to an extent, our ‘takin’ the piss’ humour – is cringe-worthy and inappropriate for culturally significant institutions and the State stages, take a look at the below clip of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria playing the VB theme song – with beer bottles.
You bloody ripper.




Published on 4 May 2012