Throwback to the time my poor German teacher had to explain the concept of formal and informal pronouns to a class full of Australians and everyone was scandalised and loudly complained “why can’t I treat everyone the same?” “I don’t want to be a Sie!” “but being friendly is respectful!” “wouldn’t using ‘du’ just show I like them?” until one guy conceded “I suppose maybe I’d use Sie with someone like the prime minister, if he weren’t such a cunt” and my teacher ended up with her head in her hands saying “you are all banned from using du until I can trust you”
God help Japanese teachers in Australia.
if this isnt an accurate representation of australia idk what is
Australia’s reverse-formality respect culture is fascinating. We don’t even really think about it until we try to communicate or learn about another culture and the rules that are pretty standard for most of the world just feel so wrong. I went to America this one time and I kept automatically thinking that strangers using ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ were sassing me.
Australians could not be trusted with a language with ingrained tiers of formal address. The most formal forms would immediately become synonyms for ‘go fuck yourself’ and if you weren’t using the most informal version possible within three sentences of meeting someone they’d take it to mean you hated them.
the difference between “‘scuse me” and “excuse me” is a fistfight
See also: the Australian habit of insulting people by way of showing affection, which other English-speakers also do, but not in a context where deescalating the spoken invective actively increases the degree of offence intended, particularly if you’ve just been affectionately-insulting with someone else.
By which I mean: if you’ve just called your best mate an absolute dickhead, you can’t then call a hated politician something that’s (technically) worse, like a total fuckwit, because that would imply either that you were really insulting your mate or that you like the politician. Instead, you have to use a milder epithet, like bastard, to convey your seething hatred for the second person. But if your opening conversational gambit is slagging someone off, then it’s acceptable to go big (”The PM’s a total cockstain!”) at the outset.
Also note that different modifiers radically change the meaning of particular insults. Case in point: calling someone a fuckin’ cunt is a deadly insult, calling someone a mad cunt is a compliment, and calling someone a fuckin’ mad cunt means you’re literally in awe of them. Because STRAYA.
case in point: the ‘Howard DJs like a mad cunt’ meme.
I recommend this bloody good article by Mark Di Stefano of Buzzfeed Australia about the origin of John Howard’s DJ skills: We Found The Guy Behind Australia’s Greatest Ever Meme.
SOMEBODY PLEASE EXPLAIN
ALSO I’M SORRY IF I KEEP TAGGING YOU IN AUSTRAILIAN RELATED SHIT
BUT YOU”RE THE ONLY AUSTRAILIAN I KNOW
AND I MUST VERIFY
It’s all true, believe me. I reckon it has something to do with being geographically isolated and having a massive convict background during colonisation. Then you have huge immigration influxes from all over the world, and the fact that we like to shorten names into things like “Dazza”, “Maccas”, and “Shaz.”
Also, when they shout “Fang It!” in Mad Max Fury Road, that is a thing that is regularly shouted in the suburbs.
I don’t know why we evolved our language like this.
All of this is completely true and I’m not even doing the Australian thing of upholding a total lie to scare foreigners. It is genuine.
I still have a knee-jerk reaction to formality. The fact we have to use “most honourable” in any correspondence to government people makes me so livid I refuse to email them directly. Formality in conversation makes me feel like I’m not allowed to regard this person as human, let alone a friend. It can absolutely be used as an insult, and the more often it’s used, the more sarcastic it sounds.
Australians have a *thing* against the idea of anyone else being More Important than themselves which, as stated above, probably comes from our convict heritage and more than a little arrogance and faux-superiority. Aggression as friendship is also common. I have run into problems with online friends before because insulting them as a greeting is just… second nature.
Also most Australians have specific swearwords for specific feelings. Like, there’s a general pool of swearwords that are multipurpose- fuck and cunt and piss- but other words such as wanker are reserved solely for people they despise. These words tend to vary depending on location and socioeconomic status.
My parents still yell “FANG IT!” out the window at anyone speeding past them or if they’re in a rush to get somewhere, and they’re weird artsy folk.