Saturday, April 27, 2013


There is a very good reason why I am publishing this post today - I'll tell you why at the end of the post.

I have always been fascinated by languages - all languages not just English.  But just lately,  I've been noticing (and finding extremely interesting) the variations in the English language used by different English-speaking countries.  I always knew there were differences but  the more American blogs I read, the more things I'm noticing.  And I keep asking myself, "Why?"

Why do Americans say "trash can" and Australians call the same item a "rubbish bin" (this was probably the one thing that sparked my attention)?  And why is the food I call a "biscuit" the same thing Americans call cookies?  And even more interestingly, why is it that Americans use the word "candies",  English "sweets" and Australians "lollies"  and we are all talking about the same thing? (Sometimes I'm surprised we can even understand each other!)

And I've found out that sometimes when I think I know what you are talking about, I'm close but I'm not quite right.  For example, Americans use the word "bangs".  I only just found out what you are talking about!  In Australia, "bangs" are side pieces of hair that are not quite as long as the rest of your hair.  To an Australian, this:

is a 'fringe'. 

And did you know that when we read "Little House on the Priarie"  and books like that  which talk about little girls wearing calico dresses,  most Australians have a picture of little girls wearing dresses made  of this:

because this is what Australians call 'calico'.  (Americans call this "muslin".)   The fabric Americans call 'calico", Australians would probably call a 'liberty print'.

It works the other way too.  When an Australian says they are wearing thongs, they are NOT talking about their underwear.  A 'thong' is underwear, but these are' thongs':

Yes, I know, everyone else calls them 'flip-flops' (which is probably a more accurate name).

A while ago I was at our local Officeworks store and I found an (almost 1:6 scale) Australian-type rubbish bin.  It even has wheels that roll.  So, for your information,  here is an Australian rubbish bin.

Actually, it's three rubbish bins - the other two are people-sized.  Why do we have two?  The one with the yellow lid is for recyclables, the other for general rubbish. And as you can see,  Barbie puts her own bin out for rubbish collection just like everyone else.


And why did I think today was a good day to post about the fun language differences that I'm discovering?  Well, today is "Hug an Australian Day".  Isn't that amazing, there is actually a  special day for doing that (it's every day for me really)!