When I made the decision to move to the United States for college, I definitely geared myself up for a bit of a culture shock, but what I didn’t realize was that I was entering a country that spoke a different language.

Now don’t get me wrong, English is the official language of Australia (which I have actually had to confirm for a few), and it is the only language I can speak. Though, in my day-to-day conversations in America, I sometimes feel like I need to hire a private translator.

There are a few words here and there that I will blurt out, that elicit a reaction so great in Americans that it stops the conversation in its tracks. Oftentimes when this happens, someone will turn to me with the most perplexed look on their face, raise their brow and ask “sorry, but what did you just say?”

For reference, here are are some of my favorite Australian phrases that have gotten lost in translation during their trip across the pond.


Clue: As a very enthusiastic person, this has to be one of my all time favorite, and most used words.

In a sentence: I’m so keen to watch the home volleyball game next week.

Translation: To say I’m keen means I’m excited or looking forward to doing something. Commonly paired with ‘as a bean’ for maximum impact.


Clue: I can’t even give a hint for this one. I have no idea how we Australians came up with it.

In a sentence: I haven’t seen a beach in yonks.

Translation: One of the more niche Australian words in my vocabulary, yonks essentially means a big length of time.


Clue: One thing I was not expecting about my move to Kansas was how many bugs there are here. I thought I was supposed to be moving away from the bugs.

In a sentence: It is safe to say that I hate mozzies.

Translation: A mozzy is a mosquito. If you have not already sensed a theme with Australian slang, it is that we absolutely refuse to say a word that is above two syllables.


Clue: Any guesses? Any at all? This is the one that will stump Americans every single time. Some guesses I’ve had in the past were a towel, a type of shoe or a toad, all of which are wrong, of course.

In a sentence: I have packed my togs for my trip to the beach.

Translation: Surprise! Togs are basically any kind of swimsuit such as a bikini, one piece, board shorts and the like.


Clue: It’s in the name.

In a sentence: I love when they serve fresh rockmelon in the cafeteria.

Translation: Americans would call rockmelon a cantaloupe, which I must say is a massive missed opportunity for you all, seeing as the fruit quite literally looks like a rock from the outside.


So, Australians and Americans do both use the word no, but there must be something about the way that the word sounds in an Australian accent, because there will always be an occasion where an American will make fun of me after I say it. If you are American and wondering how I sound when I say the word, just pronounce it ‘naur’ and you’re spot on (apparently).

Victoria Lewis is a Brisbane, Australia sophomore studying journalism. She is also a member of the Blue Dragon women’s basketball team.

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