Of Wiles in Oz

Every geographic area has a language all of its own. Sometimes it’s an accent. Other times it’s a unique slang. Either way, communication may become muddled and amusing. On our first trip to Australia in 2005 for our son’s World Solar Challenge Race, we visited Kangaroo Island by way of ferry. Upon arriving, we met our tour guide and group in a van.
“Did you see any wiles, mate?” asked the guide.
Bob and I scratched our heads. We didn’t have our “wiles” about us at that moment.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
The guide repeated his question.
“Did you see any wiles?”
Again, Bob and I eyed each other. What now? Play charades?
Then it hit us. The guide was asking if we had seen any WHALES while we were on our ferry ride.

This time we noticed signs in Darwin. POKIES. Poker is a big game in Australia. With a British influence, Bob ate bangers (sausages) one day and I had fish and chips for lunch.
We hiked in the bush (Australian’s country’s wildlife area) and saw a willy willy. (dusty wind that spirals upward) Saw a kiwi (person from New Zealand) and ate a dog’s breakfast. (messy!)
Upon entering an early morning tour bus, the guide greeted us and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll stop for a bit of breaky soon.” (breakfast)
I took a picture of a kangaroo and with a “joey” in her pouch and she examined me closely for any signs of food for sharing. Alas, they don’t recommend feeding them, so I couldn’t give her anything at all. But she still did a thorough search.

Writing Exercise: What slang is prominent in your area? Are “your people” known for an accent? When I came from Wisconsin, I was teased here in California not only for my Midwestern drawl, but for my “Milwaukee-ease.” Later, I turned this type of slang into a humor article for a San Francisco newspaper.
1. List as many various slang words from your region as you can recall. You may begin this list today and continue it for awhile. Ask friends to help you! It might consist of phrases as well as words themselves.
2. What about the accent? Try and describe the accent and how it varies from other dialects you here.
3. Work your unique area into a short story, personal experience piece, poem or article. It can be humorous, serious, or a mixture of the two styles. Feel free to share any part of your dialect and slang. We’d love to hear the fun way the world communicates differently!

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