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Traveling to Australia? Keep it short.

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Australians are an aggressively casual people. Their insistence on a defiantly relaxed, “no worries” worldview has turned them into chronic abbreviators and nicknamers. This happens whether you like it or not. In Australia, for instance, I have never once been called by my proper, two-syllable name (which I greatly prefer). Instead I am forever “Pete.” Or maybe “Petey,” or “Pete-O.”

I hereby offer this brief glossary to aid in translation.

chardy = chardonnay
voddy = vodka (though you’d rarely order just one, hence the more common “voddies”)
pokies = video poker machines in Aussie pubs
brekkie = breakfast
arvo = afternoon
mozzies = mosquitoes
sunnies = sunglasses
ute = utility truck
spag bol = spaghetti Bolognese
Darlo = Darlinghurst, the SoHo of Sydney
footie = football, as in Australian Rules Football, the national obsession
blunnies = Blundstone boots

Sometimes abbreviating seems inappropriate. On a December visit to Sydney I kept noticing signs in shops saying “Sale for Chrissie!” or “Buy Something Special For Chrissie!” and wondered who this lucky “Chrissie” person was until I realized they meant Christmas. Really?I thought. I mean, “X-Mas” is irreverent enough, but “Chrissie”?
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Other times the diminutives are just baffling. Some Sydneysiders abbreviate their hometown into something kind of like “Sidd-y,” which, having no fewer syllables and only one fewer consanant than the original -- and also being easily confused with the word “city” -- makes no sense whatsoever. Would it require THAT much more effort to pronounce the “n”?I think I know the answer: No worries on the ‘brevvies, Pete-O!

Peter Lindberg is Travel + Leisure's editor-at-large.

 

Photos by Peter Jon Lindberg

 

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