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