I don’t reckon. For the most part.

I’ve been noticing quite a few hiccups in my speech here in Australia. Thanks to this, I’m realizing, in a more clarified sense, how my insecurities catch up with my efforts to adapt to a new, heavily rigid social situation. In rural areas in Canada, the U.S., and Aus., I have found people will be more used to a limited set of colloquialisms which will have developed many intricacies or short-forms more familiar to those locals than anyone else. In comparison, the larger cities seem to have a collection of more diverse phrases, yet are more simply employed and less varied in their employment. Being in a more insular rural place where the people use English phrases and colloquialisms I’m not used to, I’m forced daily to make a decision either to fall back on what I was raised on or do as the Romans do. Sometimes, I catch myself pausing to decide whether I will use the local, yet ever persistent (and more seemingly understandable), slang, thereby potentially trying to assimilate. My other option, of course, is to stand my ground as a Canadian and pull “oat” an “alrighty” rather than “chucking” out a “roighty-o”, making more sense by saving the effort of accommodating to do what feels more natural. So a speech error which may just sound like a forgotten word will be me picking between whether I “think” or “reckon”. Not that Australians, specifically, impose this pressure upon me (they are some of the kindest, most accommodating people I have met); this has been a constant recurrence in my life while traveling and is simply more noticeable to me now that I am the farthest away from home I have ever been for longer than I have ever been away. Considering my decidedness to be indecisive about my long-term plans for my life at this point, it is still easy for me to wonder who I am and how I fit into this world. I think that largely affects the whole language thing; when I speak French, French people tend to think I’m Québequois and vice versa. So maybe I can’t decide. However, that may just be a comment on, like a lovely French cheese, how smelly my accent is. Je m’enfoue. Or, as I learned to say in Melbourne so well (thanks to the local culture): “Oi doyn kaya, Ahm crewsy”. Fair dinkum, mates.
I find it interesting how the youths in this country take to speaking, too. I was reading in an article, a couple of months ago, that the Australian accent is not likely bound to morph to become more American. The article claimed that kids speak like their role models. However, like in the other Westernized countries, television and internet videos take up a huge part of many Australian kids’ lives and, as they grow older, they become more and more exposed to American produced, acted, and inspired content and less and less exposed to their parents’ influences. Not only this, but American culture tends to be idolized in Australia through clothing and branding as well. In the cities, I find it more difficult to distinguish an Australian by their accent, within the first sentence they say, than I do in rural country sides (because of the use of many phrases with limited variance in employment). One charming example is Aussie city kids who say “ah” where the Australian accent usually employs an “oi” (“Can “ah” have a “mahlo” plaise?”). They’re one step closer to going Beyonce and putting a “y” on it (consonant) and marrying the Aussie accent with the American accent in that aspect. ONE. OF. US. No pun intended.
But since this is becoming rather academically inspired, I’ll finish with a seemingly brainless quote that would probably not set off any bulbs for an Australian child but makes all the sense in the world to a seasoned Canadian: “Shake, shake the ketchup bottle. Sometimes you get a little; sometimes you get a lottle”.


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