Sunday marked the two year anniversary of my moving to Australia. In that time I think I’ve adapted fairly well. When I went back home in July some friends seemed a bit surprised that I don’t sound any more Australian now than I did before I left Canada. I’m not surprised as I think as an adult I’ve kind of passed the stage of picking up a new accent.
However, I have picked up a fair bit of Australian lingo that I find myself using relatively regularly. “Reckon” is a big one I use a lot. Calling “Grade 8″ by it’s Aussie moniker “Year 8″ is another one I’m pretty comfortable with now too. I also find myself shortening words and phrases: a traditional Australian pastime. Australians are the absolute masters of looking at a two syllable word and condensing it to one. Why waste the breath?
But every now and then the Australian lingo I’ve picked up and my complete lack of an Australian accent come together it what can best be described as a Linguistic Train Wreck. Recently I used the term “mate” (as in “Sounds good, mate.”) with a friend and it was later pointed out to me that it sounded really bizarre. The “mate” came out of my North American mouth sounding exactly as it looks to a Canadian or an American. Australians, of course, pronounce it a bit more like this. It’s not quite “mite” but it’s not quite “mate” either. It’s kind of “miiiaaggghhhht.” Or something.
So now I’m a bit paranoid and self-conscious about the whole situation. Here I am, two years later, thinking I’m fitting in with my vast knowledge of Australian colloquialisms but really I’m just entertaining the Aussies with my foolish accent. I don’t lose any sleep over it though. I know which nation pronounces “mate” correctly.