Trivia Teaser

Who sang the soundtrack for the 1991 film "Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves"?

Shirley Bassey
Victoria Adams
Bob Geldof
Bryan Adams



By Christine Lovatt

Overseas, Australians and New Zealanders are often stereotyped as aficionados of slang. It’s probably true that an informal approach to language goes with our more relaxed lifestyle. People may say it’s a form of laziness, but much more likely is the use of slang as a sign of solidarity. Speakers of slang know they’re among friends. It creates a friendly ambience that draws the speakers together.

“Language with its shirtsleeves rolled up” is how Susan Butler, of the Macquarie Dictionary,  describes slang.  The dictionary definition of slang is informal language or jargon of a particular profession or group. It includes newly coined words and shortened forms.

Expressions like smoko, taking a sickie, mad as a cut snake or feeling crook are now well-known in Britain, thanks to the popularity of TV series such as Home And Away and Neighbours.
Sir Les Patterson was responsible for introducing some colourful slang expressions, such as one sandwich short of a picnic, to describe someone not very bright. Or to be one stubbie short of a sixpack. Having kangaroos in the top paddock means to be a bit mad.

Slang has been around for as long as formal language, it’s just the informal alternative. A reader queried our use of the word okay in a crossword, reminding us that when she was at school she was taught that okay was slang and shouldn’t be used.

However, our language is always changing – okay is no longer slang. It’s accepted as another word for approval or agreement.  Slang words are often vivid and expressive, but they come and go quickly. If they’re needed and used enough, they stay and become standard words.

Both colloquialism and slang expressions are avoided in formal writing, but in conversation they can put people at their ease – so deadset, mate – give it a whirl,  as long as you don’t make a dog’s breakfast of it!

Happy puzzling!

5 Responses to


August 23, 2007 at 7:46 PM


I've had a gutful of people saying we use crook terms, if you ask me they are all a bunch of drongos, avagoodweekend.


Britannia said:
September 01, 2007 at 12:31 PM


At least Australia can come up with it's own words, without having to copy other coutries.


oophy said:
September 03, 2007 at 9:58 PM


Hi there Christine and others, I'm certainly not going to clean up my slang - it's pure Australian as opposed to other countries and it's something to be proud of. I'm an older Australian and don't like the modern swearing used every second word in every day language, but everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion and I'm sticking to mine. This is all new to me and I'm not sure what the 50 points business is all about but guess I'll learn as I go along. I LOVE crosswords, particularly cryptics. Oophy.


September 06, 2007 at 11:57 PM


Recently while chatting on line i asid it is arvo where iam. my reply bak wots arvo?


October 04, 2007 at 12:23 PM


good onyer mates.