While Australian English is generally close enough to the “mother tongue” to be intelligible to even the most dyed-in-the-wool Pom, we do occasionally get confused by the Australians’ rather odd pronunciation.
When we first arrived in Sydney, I got some strange looks asking for direction to the nearest Dymocks bookshop. I soon found out why – it isn’t pronounced Dye-mocks, it’s pronounced Dimmerks. I believe there’s one fairly near Wynyard station, which – by the way – is pronounced Win-yerd, not Wine-yard.
On a trip down south from Sydney, we quickly learned that Kogarah isn’t pronounced Koe-GAH-rah – it’s pronounced COG-a-rah - while Wollongong isn’t pronounced Wo-lon-gong – it’s pronounced Wool-long-gong, even though there’s no double-o. Those crazy Aussies! Travelling further down the coast, we were amazed to discover that Kiama isn’t pronounced Kee-arma – it’s pronounced Kye-amma – and that Jervis Bay isn’t pronounced Jarvis Bay – it’s actually pronounced Jervis Bay, just like it’s written.
Various other place names have tripped us up over the years. Balgowlah, a Sydney suburb, is pronounced Balg-OW-lah, not BAL-go-lah, while the town of Forster, strangely, is pronounced Foster. One doesn’t pronounce Maleny as MALeny, but as MalAYnee, and you say Merimbula as MerIMbula, not MerimBUla.
If you work with computers and want to ask someone where the router is, don’t be tempted to say rooter, because “root” is Aussie slang for “to have sex”. Instead, make sure you say r-ow-ter. Meanwhile, commenting on an attractive PERgola in the park won’t get you far; try calling it a PerGOla instead for best results.
When ordering a schooner of James Boag in a pub, don’t pronounce it James Bo-ag like I did because the bar staff will think you’re crazy. It’s pronounced James Boge.
Other Aussie oddities include:
- Data – pronounced darta, not dayta
- Cache – pronounced cayshe, not cash
- Eco – pronounced echo, not eeko
- Project – pronounced pr-oh-ject, not prodject
Finally, even people’s names are pronounced differently. Megan isn’t pronounced, well, Megan as it is in the UK, but Mee-gan. And we were surprised to find that, after naming our baby boy Isaac, all our Aussie friends call him not Eye-zerk, but Eye-zack. (Which we actually quite like, luckily!)