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Kangaroo Korner

posted Feb 3, 2014, 1:15 PM by Deanna Skare   [ updated May 2, 2014, 12:50 PM by Bowmansville UMC ]

Hello again, dear friends.  This month, as well as for the next few, I thought we might take a look at some more of the similarities and differences between life in the US and Oz through a series of articles, since so many of you have told me you find that of interest (and so do I--good thing, yes?!).
First, let's look at the language.  English is our national language here, although so many of the spellings (adding 'u' as in color, harbor, honor, and switching the letters 'er' to 're' as in theatre, centre), as well as the uses of various words and phrases ('too right' means 'absolutely'), differ from yours. Sometimes phrases can even mean the exact opposite of that with which you and I grew up!  For example, if you were to talk about being 'rooted', you'd either be talking about a plant cutting taking hold in fresh soil or about yourself being happily settled somewhere.  In Oz, however, if something is 'rooted', it has gone completely useless.  With a little imagination, you can envision the problems and misunderstandings 'language' caused for Sel and me in our early days!
Then, of course, there are the colloquialisms found in every culture, which in most cases leave me wondering what in the world they are really saying!?? Brief examples include 'that's gone crook', which here means 'something is amiss', and 'rocked in', which means 'arrived'. They also have an inexplicable tradition of shortening certain words and adding an 'o' or 'e' onto the end (ambulance becomes 'ambo', bottle shops--a different term for liquor stores--becomes 'bottle-o', fireman becomes 'fire-e, breakfast becomes 'brekkie', etc.)
In previous articles I've mentioned different pronunciations of the same words you use as well.  For example, you and I say controversy--here it is controversy; and the way you and I pronounce 'respiratory' (condensing then to 4 syllables) here becomes 'respiratory' (using the full 5 syllables). There are several others, and it drives me crazy when I'm listening to the news!  I keep having to backtrack to understand the message content...
Some of you may remember the matching game I sent many months ago--I am still trying to become accustomed to most of the words and phrases on that list, but I also find myself quite naturally dropping into the vernacular now and then without even thinking about it--most notably in saying 'how 'ya goin', instead of 'how are you', and 'no worries' instead of 'no problem'.  I will NOT, however, lose my American accent--I'm too old for that!
Our indigenous language consists of the many dialects of Aboriginal.  This is an amazing culture that has now been proven to be the oldest on earth, dating back approx. 80,000 years!  Discoveries have been made that show their genius at survival and change--even as the planet and continents themselves were altering--as well as their remarkable artistic skill.  In that regard they parallel our own Native American Indian Tribes, who migrated form other parts of the globe, knew how to livewith the land, and whose cultures and spiritual understandings were so highly evolved.  Sadly, both the Aboriginal and Native American cultures now struggle to preserve their heritage and build quality lives amidst the strictures imposed on them by the white man's way of life.
Turning now to Life in the cities, it is what you would expect, except I notice that cities here tend to be cleaner and more well maintained. English colonial-style buildings of the past are revered and maintained, while the modern hotels and sky scrapers are quite varied in design--an incredible and beautiful mix of styles and tropical colors.  As to housing, while there are areas of homes and shops that clearly reflect a more modest level of income, the vast majority of homes are quite lovely and well maintained, whether in the city or in the countryside (what we call "the woop-woops"). The Outback can be everything from dusty old barrooms, to elegant ranches to simple, serviceable outposts offering refreshments and snacks, souvenirs and stamps. 
In my particular  location--on Chevron Island within the city of Surfers Paradise--mansions along the rivers and canals are the norm.  Sel and I particularly enjoy the sprawling parks and green spaces with rivers surrounding and/or meandering through them.  There is a great deal of financial wealth here--none of it mine--but I am rich in family, friends, gorgeous natural wonders and non-stop wonderful weather.  This is also an ideal location for experiencing a microcosm of the entire continent, as we are short drives from mountains, the bush (with its proliferation of eucalyptus and gum trees), the ocean, indigenous wildlife reserves and the rainforests; and beautiful tropical birds, palm trees, flowering shrubs and plants (like the jade, wattle, bottle brush, lilly pilly, and the exotically beautiful Bird of Paradise), surround our complex and balcony--so many blessings at my doorstep.  

The next few months will bring discussions of the arts and entertainment, food, fashion, sports, economics, climate, health care, politics, education, population, Senior life, and more. In the meantime, Happy Valentine's Day. You always have my heart and my prayers, and please remember the world's children in yours.




"Prayer should be the key of the morning and the lock of the night."  Owen Felltham