Pre­serve your di­alect: tell us about the un­usual Aus­tralian words you use

The Guardian Australia - - Opinion - Rachel Obordo and Guardian read­ers

If you live or work in Aus­tralia you may have heard peo­ple use dif­fer­ent words to de­scribe what women wear when they go swim­ming. If you’re in Queens­land women might be wear­ing togs; if you’re in the Victoria area they’re bathers, and if you’re in New South Wales they’re cozzies. How­ever, lan­guage re­gions in Aus­tralia do not fol­low state bound­aries ac­cord­ing to Dr Pauline Bryant, vis­it­ing fel­low on the lin­guis­tics pro­gram at the Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity. They are grouped by re­gions such as the north-east, south-east, south-cen­tral and south-west.

The best-known re­gional word in Aus­tralia is the north-east word for a suit­case. It’s a port in all of Queens­land and New South Wales ex­cept Syd­ney. Ev­ery­where else it causes some amuse­ment and the oc­ca­sional con­fu­sion be­cause of port, the for­ti­fied wine.

An­other ex­am­ple is the word used to give some­one a ride on the cross­bar of your bi­cy­cle. In the north-east you give them a dou­ble or just a dub, in the south-east you give them a dink, in the south-cen­tre you give them a don­key or a dinky, and in the south-west you give them a dinky.

Eight months ago the Guardian ran a story on di­alect from across the coun­try us­ing the Bri­tish Li­brary’s Evolv­ing English WordBank as ex­am­ples of the di­ver­sity of words and terms used in dif­fer­ent parts of the UK.

As a fol­low up we gave our read­ers the last word, ask­ing them to con­trib­ute the di­alect words they use . We re­ceived 1,200 words and phrases in re­sponse, 920 of which were unique en­tries. Most of those, the Bri­tish Li­brary found to be dis­tinct di­alect words.

Now we’d like to hear about the un­usual Aus­tralian words and phrases you use: the words syn­ony­mous with your home­town; the one you used one day in the of­fice only to have ev­ery­one look at you blankly; or the phrase that, in your area or fam­ily, is com­mon­place but which you have never heard out­side that con­text.

What do you call a swim­ming cos­tume? Com­pos­ite: Guardian graphic

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