History, sociology, and linguistics lessons today

Trip Start Dec 18, 2011
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Trip End Sep 15, 2013


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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, September 7, 2012

Things are starting to heat up here. Strange to think that it's September and it's early spring. I'm not sure how we're going to cope with Halloween coming on a late spring night, but Liam and Andy suggested they would like it more because they won't have to wear coats while out trick or treating! And Christmas is celebrated in shorts at the beach, while Easter comes in early fall--somehow the pastels of spring don't seem appropriate.
I wonder what this discombobulation of the seasons has done for the brain formulation of native Antipodeans. It feels very strange to look at the sun in the northern sky. When the British decided to ship their convicts to the farthest point on earth, they weren't far wrong, even though they were using primitive 18th century tools to figure things out. Here's how you figure out the antipodal point of any place on earth: Take a globe, choose a spot, and then imagine a new axis going from it through the center of the globe. The exit point is the antipodal point. The antipodes to England is somewhere near New Zealand, but in the 18th century there was the problem of cannibals all over the place in New Zealand, so Australia was a better option as the Aboriginal people were more peaceful (woe to them). And all because of the American Revolutionary War! Thanks to our ancestors telling the British to take a hike, the British needed a new spot to put the people they no longer wanted in their overcrowded society. And so what led to the portion of the commonwealth called Australia was founded.
When I'm at school or at the shops, I look at the faces around me and try to figure out when their ancestors came here, and where they came from. It feels even more a nation of immigrants than the US--perhaps because the longest any foreigner has been here is 230 years, or perhaps because everyone knows their story. I read in the newspaper that one of every two people in Sydney is foreign born. The Hunter Valley is a pretty homogenous place for Australia, though one of my friends (mom of one of Liam's friends) is half-Aboriginal, and another of my friends (mom of one of Andy's friends) moved from India when she married. The rest of the people we've met seem to have English or Irish ancestors.
My friend and I were out walking, and we struck up a conversation with an 80-year-old man tending to his roses. As with some people who've not had experience with people of different backgrounds, he was cordial to me and rude to her. He talked to me like an equal but told her there were too many boat people trying to come to Australia illegally. She reminded him that people from India are not part of the illegal immigrant tide. Interesting to note that Australia has the same issue the US faces--millions of extremely poor people looking to get their children into a place with a better future--something we take for granted, I'm afraid.
Until we open our mouths, people assume we're native Australians. Then we speak, and all the heads whip around. Some of our Australian friends can do hilarious American accents--it's a hoot. Australian speech is amazing with the diphthongs, however. Those are the words that contain two vowel sounds--the vowels slide from one to another. Australians take a one-vowel sound and make it a diphthong. Hearing someone say "hello," or "now" is just amazing. The "o" sound has ALL the vowels plus an "r" and an "n" sound! A director said in a newspaper article that is the hardest habit for Australian actors to break when they are working on their accents.
As predicted, Liam is the first to slip into Aussie-speak. Little things come out, and he sounds just like his friends. I don't think Andy is going to switch accents because he is too thoughtful about his words, and I think the habit of shortening all nouns and adding a "y" sound is ridiculous, so I doubt I'll ever sound like I belong here. Chris enjoys the games we play when we read the newspaper--"Can you make sense of what this one is saying?!?"
To end this amazingly long post, here are some more words. See if you can figure out what they are meant to be.
maccas
mozzies
sunnies
eski
Manchester (not the city)
tatts (always in the plural, even when talking about one)
ice-cream spider
bloke
fairy floss
canteen
lollies
postie
truckie
ta
sanger
feral
dodgy


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Comments

Cami on

Mozzies = mosquitos, right? Bloke = guy.... does "dodgy" mean "to be regarded w/ suspicion", or something like that? Very cute post, Melinda - & the boys look fantastic! Andy's cheeks look so ruddy; they're like all the apples that are ripening around here. Sorry I can't comment more. It's a v. busy time for me! Love, Cami

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