Along with just about everybody else in the world, Australians are accustomed to having our language invaded by Americanisms. We get guys using American phrases 24/7, period. Should we care less? You do the math, then go figure.
But is Australia finally getting some of its own back?
I recently heard an American news report use the phrase “fair enough” – a fine old Australianism if ever I heard one. Fair enough is a really useful, conciliatory phrase which means, “I might not be quite as fervent as you, but okay, I accept what you’re saying.”
A quick view of Google Trends reveals that, indeed, fair enough suddenly appeared some time in the middle of 2008. Strangely, it appears to have gained particular currency in Hong Kong and Sweden.
Another Australian phrase that seems to be gaining common usage is “no worries” with Google Trends showing sudden appearance of the phrase around 2005 and steadily increased usage.
No worries is often used in Australia as a response to “thanks” – and is a less formal way of saying, don’t even mention it, it was nothing. Whether this is preferable to the polite American-style response – “You’re welcome” – is debatable.
Google Trends shows that no worries has been picked up enthusiastically in Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK, but I am increasingly hearing it used by Americans. Weirdly, Google tells us that no worries is now more popular in Manchester than it is in Sydney.
Perhaps a less welcome Australian export is what has become known as Australian Question Intonation, or High Rise Terminal. Some linguists believe that a tendency for some Australians to end a sentence on a high note – like it’s a question – may have been picked up by Brits fed on a diet of Australian soap operas.
G’day has not yet taken off internationally, but seems to have budding acceptance in Russia and Atlanta in the US.
Interestingly, the phrase “fair go” that we like to think of as ours is used much more regularly in New Zealand.
I guess we will know for sure that Australian phrases are taking over the world when foreign types finally start getting fair dinkum…
(By the way, if you want to get ahead of the game you can learn more about how to speak proper English here.)