Is Australia in danger of losing its unique language and culture? I think so!
Think about some of the conversations you may have had over the past couple of days and say, truthfully, have you heard something like this :
You – ‘Hey mate, owyagoin?’
Them – ‘Good buddy, how bout you?’
Do you see anything wrong? If you don’t then that’s exactly what I’m talking about. If you do then congratulations, there’s hope for us yet.
Since when has the word ‘BUDDY’ ever been part of the Australian language. The word is, ‘MATE’, always was and always will be. I know what you’re thinking and , yes, it has become automatic and in the past I have been guilty of the same thing and have had to consciously think sometimes before I speak, it has become so common, but we must make a concerted effort to eliminate it.
Through social media, television and the movies we have been bombarded with Americanisms. Even the spelling ; tire for tyre, center for centre, putting, ‘z’, where there should be, ‘s’, like authorize instead of authorise, the list goes on and on and what about when your computer programme (not program) is American, which most of them are, and you have to constantly put up with a red line under spelling mistakes. Yes, I know you can change it to English but why should we have to and in fact I just ignore it or sometimes I have to check a dictionary to see if I have it right. Maybe I’m just being a cranky old man but surely we have to draw a line somewhere. I have some people I know who speak with an American accent and have never been there, how bizarre is that?
I don’t expect everyone to go around saying , ‘You bewdy oker ol’ mate ain’t that a bottler of a sheila over there, makes a bloke wanta flamin throw down ‘is schooner an’ go over there nflipinchaterup.’ But at least stick to some semblance of the Australian language.
It’s not only our language that’s taken a hit but our culture as well. In my day end of school meant a, ‘muck-up day’, where the students leaving school could play the larrikin. Now it’s not only semi-formals and formals at the end of high school but at the end of state school as well!
When my son finished state school a few years ago they held a formal, yes for twelve year olds for goodness sake! What happened was the girls were done up like fashion models and some were over done, which was not a good look in my opinion, and they had music where the girls danced with each other and what did the boys do? Skidded around on the floor and quite rightly did what boys do, acted like larrikins. A bit pointless really.
Need I mention the Australian custom of a 21st birthday party where the recipient accepts the symbolic key to the door for becoming an adult. Now, the 18th birthday party has become the norm to be the big coming of age and they’re still a teenager. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against Americans, I have made many friends over the years with Americans I even dated a couple of American girls in my youth, but I just don’t want to become one.
Anyway we need to make a conscious effort to retain our unique language and culture or it will be lost forever. One way to preserve it, I feel, is to embrace the history that formulated it all in the first place. You may think that as a young country we only have 232 years of history to fall back on when other countries have thousands of years. You’d be wrong because our country has been occupied for between 40,000 and 60,000 years and believe it or not it has all contributed to who we are and how we live.
The USA had a civil war, a war of independence against England. Europe including England goes back thousands of years worth of history with wars, royalty, invasions, colonisation and just about anything you can imagine. What does Australia have?
Well, our history is far better and more interesting than you could have imagined. We had our own civil war, many internal wars as a matter of fact. We had a rebellion that ended up in treason. We had a guerrilla war that lasted for nearly thirty years. Our government was formed around transported convicts of many nationalities who built our language and culture.
That’s what I will be concentrating on in this blog over the coming weeks so stay tuned if you’re interested. I can’t finish without relating a short story that personifies the Australian humour. It can be seen as a joke but knowing some of the Australian characters I have met over the years I’d like to think it is true.
An Aussie was showing a Yank the sites around Sydney when the Yank noticed a rather tall imposing building. ‘What’s that?’ he asked pointing at the building.
The Aussie said with pride. ‘That’s the Chifley Tower, the tallest building in Sydney. It took three years to complete and at a cost of $1.2 million.’
‘Hah!’ said the Yank. ‘We have buildings in the States twice as high, cost twice as much and were built in half that time.’
‘Really!’ answered the Aussie as they walked down to the harbour.
‘What’s that then?’ asked the Yank pointing at the bridge.
‘That’s the Sydney Harbour Bridge, started in 1923 and finished in 1932 at a cost, then, of 10 million pounds.’
‘Bah!’ said the Yank. ‘We have the Golden Gate Bridge, twice as high, double the cost and finished in a quarter of that time.’
‘Whatever!’ said the Aussie becoming frustrated as they walked south down the harbour foreshore.
‘Okay then, so what the hell is that?’ asked the Yank pointing at the Sydney Opera House.
‘Buggered if I know!’ said the Aussie. ‘ The bloody thing wasn’t there yesterday!’
Be back again soon.