Writing English Part 2: How to Write ‘Strine’

2

or The Uniqueness of Australian English

Following on from last week’s blog from Mitch Devine in the US, this week I’m pleased to introduce flame-haired lovely Belinda Weaver, she of Copywrite Matters fame. Belinda gives a tongue-in-cheek lesson on how to write for an audience down under.

 

Belinda WeaverLanguage localisation can be a bit of a minefield. Between the US, the UK and good old Aussie-land we all technically speak the same language, right? So how hard could it be?

As a country, Australia’s cultural heritage links straight back to Old Blighty but ever since the first fleet landed with their cargo of convicts, Australian English has been tearing off on its own path.

When it comes to copywriting, localising the lingo is much more complicated than simply switching the language setting on your spell checker. Australians will generally favour the spelling of British English but our style of communicating is our own.

Don’t confuse your footwear with your underwear 

Like many countries around the world, Australians have a whole swag of local slang. We say ’jumper‘, Americans say ’sweater‘. We say ’thongs‘, while the English say ’flip-flops‘. And don’t get me started on ’chips’. Everyday business copywriting might not include such colourful language but even more mundane phrases like ’this week‘ and ’next week‘ can have different meanings once you cross an ocean or two.

We don’t like it when you bung it on

Australians enjoy a certain freedom of expression and a deep appreciation for honesty that goes across all forms of communication. We like people to tell us how it is, without the fluff and hype. We don’t like people getting carried away and love an underdog, and that’s reflected in the kind of stories we respond to.

We can roll out idioms like a snags at a barbie

Australians are quite famous for utterly ridiculously expressions. We’re flat out like a lizard drinking in the arvo before we decide she’ll be right and head to the boozer. While most businesses wouldn’t dream of using some of the more colourful Australian idioms in their marketing, there is a huge collection of mundane, every day phrases that simply have different applications.

Using local idioms and references blend you in as a native but if you get them wrong, you might open yourself up to a bit of ‘agro’.

Australian English (or ‘Strine’) is vibrant, interesting and sometimes quite blunt, just like Australians. It’s always evolving, absorbing new words and phrases to reflect how we communicate with each other. I believe that’s exactly what language should do. All language.

We should rejoice in our uniqueness and the kind of expression that makes our English 100% Strine. When it comes to copywriting, it’s worth taking some extra time to understand what local really means. If that means spending a bit more hiring someone with a deeper understanding of the culture, it’s money well spent.

Who is Belinda Weaver?

Belinda is a fair-dinkum Australian marketing copywriter who confidently walks the line between writing effective copy and creating an engaging brand personality. Why choose between them? Visit Copywrite Matters for bonza copywriting services and The Copy Detective for a weekly dose of copywriting, marketing and all things business.

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If you need a Copywriter, SEO Consultant or Information Architect, then please call me for a chat and an obligation free quote. I'm in Sydney Australia on +61 (0) 418 166 458 or contact me.

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Hello! I'm an award-winning SEO and advertising copywriter based in Sydney, Australia.
Kate Toon

  • Lucy Smith

    I know this is an old post, but I had to chime in here. As a New Zealander, I think I have a pretty good perspective on just how important localisation is. In marketing, we get treated as Australians, and tend to receive recycled Australian ads and articles. You’d be surprised just how grating that can be. The accent is different, the style is different, and words like ‘thongs’ (we say ‘jandals’) just seem so wrong. And you can always tell when it’s developed for an Australian audience.

    I’m really not one to buy into this stupid trans-Tasman rivalry, but I do find it frustrating. We may be a smaller market, but I seriously think it’s worth putting in the effort to target Kiwis properly.

    • http://www.katetooncopywriter.com.au/ Kate Toon

      Yep I hear you. It’s painful, especially when US or European brands obviously just think of NZ and AU as more country. I think the brands that make the effort to differentiate win more customers.

Who is Kate Toon?

Hi, I'm an award-winning SEO copywriter and SEO consultant with over 18 years’ experience. I've worked with big brands such as Westpac, the RTA, Curash and Kmart and helped countless small businesses to produce great content.

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