26 April 2013


I am not as Strine as I once was. The word strine means to speak in a broad Australian accent. The term was coined in 1964 by a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald named Alistor Ardoch Morrisson. He wrote humorous columns for the newspaper and enjoyed taking the piss out of the Australian accent. His readers enjoyed it too.

The word 'Strine' is not recognized by my now English- English word auto spell check function on my now-not-so-new Mac Air Book. I worked out how to change it from the default setting of American-English - which is an abomination. The auto spell check function on my now-not-so-new Mac Air Book keeps changing the word "Strine" to "strike". 

It just did it again.

Morrison also wrote a song that he recorded in an exaggerated Australian accent. It was called "With Air Chew" ("Without you"). It was a love song. Morrison's book, "Let's talk Strine" was where the word Strine first appeared in print. Strine is of course the word "Australian" - being said in strine.

Good and proper Strine is spoken through the mouth and nose - at the same time. Many of the languages of the native and indigenous people of Australia have been lost. The aboriginal tribes of Australia who are the traditional land owners of our nation have been scattered and their numbers are greatly diminished.

However the Strine dialect is alive and well and it is spoken by the very large bogan population of Australia. The bogans are a white Australian tribe and they are mostly the ancestors of English convicts. They are not indigenous.

I have written about the bogans before – and at great length so I will not repeat myself here.

If I speak too Strine in many Asian countries - where I now live and work - some people cannot understand me. So over the years I have modified my accent. I am occasionally both horrified and appalled though when some people ask from which part of England I am from. This is enquired of me on a fairly regular basis and it happened twice today. 

In Delhi.

I generally correct such occurrences immediately and I advise the enquirer quite firmly that I am not English. I politely inform them too that it is quite an insult for most Australians to be mistaken as being English.

We don't like it.

The two Indian gentlemen who enquired from where in England I came from actually seemed quite pleased to hear that I wasn't English. They didn't say as much but I suspect that they also don't hold the English in very high regard either. I don't blame them. India was one of the countries that the British invaded and occupied way back when they were once a world power. They referred to themselves then as the "British Empire". This was a long time ago. The Indians kicked them out of the sub-continent more than one hundred and fifty years back.

They overwhelmed them by sheer weight of numbers.

It is only marginally less worse for we Australians to be mistaken by our accents as Kiwis. However this also happens on occasion and we don't like that either. The New Zealanders also do Strine they however have a significant problem with the vocalisation of some vowels. They can't pronounce them.

For example a New Zealander would say "fush" instead of "fish" and "chups" instead of "chips". Listening to New Zealanders converse in such a way and for any length of time is painful and annoying. It is acoustically offensive and it is often intolerable.

It is this distinctive vowel impairment that differentiates them from we Australians.

I tend to speak Strine more frequently and quite easily when I am in the company of my countrymen and women at expatriate gatherings that I occasionally attend where I live in Singapore. I attend these gathering at places that are named the Boomerang Bar or the Platypus Kitchen. I am serious - these are real names.

Yes I know.

I know.

We all speak Strine when we gather at such places - the names of these establishments and being amongst our brethren compel us. 

I just slip into it. 

"Owzitfukingoin mate?

When conversing and communicating with the bogans in Melbourne and Sydney - when I go back home - I speak Strine out of necessity. Many people would not understand me otherwise – or they would assume that I am English. The current Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is of bogan stock and she speaks bold and fluent nasal strine.

She speaks it very well.

Many Strine words are just made up. "Fair Dinkum", "Strewth" "Yobbo" and "Ridgy-Didge" are some examples. Few non-Strine speakers would know the meaning of some of our Strine words. There is "Woopwoop' for example and "Tucker" and "Hooroo" and “Dunny”.

For those who may be interested in knowing, "Woopwoop' is a place in the middle of nowhere - it is somewhere that is a long way from anywhere. 

"Tucker" is food" and a “Dunny” is a toilet.

“Hooroo" means goodbye. 

1 comment :

  1. You are a peculiar individual, very funny and surprisingly clever at times