I have returned to the Island from my annual sojourn to my homeland and I already feel overwhelmed.
For a couple of weeks I did not utter even a single ‘can’ or a ‘cannot’ nor any form of Singlish.
I slipped easily and comfortably into my normal spoken dialect.
I am however not as Strine as I once was.
The word Strine means to speak in a broad Australian accent.
A journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald named Alistor Ardoch Morrisson coined the term “Strine” in 1964. Morrisson wrote humorous columns for the newspaper and he enjoyed taking the piss out of the Australian accent.
His readers enjoyed it too.
Self deprecation is something we Australians do very well.
The word 'Strine' is not recognized by my now English-English word auto spell check function on my now-not-so-new Mac Air Book.
I worked out how to change it from the default setting of American-English - which was an abomination.
The auto spell check function on my now-not-so-new Mac Air Book most annoyingly keeps changing the word "Strine" to "strike".
It just did it again.
Morrison also wrote a song that he recorded in an exaggerated Australian accent. It was called "With Air Chew" ("Without you").
It was a colonial love song.
Morrison's book, "Let's talk Strine" was where the word Strine first appeared in print.
Strine is of course the word "Australian" - being said in Strine.
Good and proper Strine is spoken through the mouth and nose - at the same time.
It is no easy task for non-Australians.
Many of the languages of the native and indigenous people of Australia have been lost. The aboriginal tribes of Australia who are the traditional landowners of our nation have been scattered and their numbers are greatly diminished.
However the Strine dialect is alive and well and the very large Bogan population of Australia speaks it.
The Bogans are a white Australian tribe and they are mostly the ancestors of English convicts.
They are not indigenous.
I have written about the Bogans before – and at great length, so I will not repeat myself here.
If I speak too Strine in many Asian countries - where I now live and work - some people cannot understand me. So over the years I have modified my accent.
I am occasionally both horrified and appalled though when some people ask from which part of England I am from. This is enquired of me on a fairly regular basis and it happened twice today.
Here in Singapore.
I generally correct such occurrences immediately and I advise the enquirer quite firmly that I am not English. I politely inform them too that it is quite an insult for most Australians to be mistaken as being English.
We don't like it.
It was two Indian gentlemen who enquired from where in England I came from. When I informed them that I was in no way one of the English they actually seemed quite pleased to hear that I wasn't from the United Kingdom.
They didn't say as much - however I suspect that like me - and indeed most of my brethren, they also do not hold the English in very high regard.
I don't blame them.
India was one of the countries that the British invaded and occupied way back when they were once a global power.
They referred to themselves then as the "British Empire".
This was a long time ago.
The Indians kicked them out of the sub-continent more than one hundred and fifty years back.
They overwhelmed them by sheer weight of numbers.
It is only marginally less bad for we Australians to be mistaken by our accents as Kiwis.
However this also happens on occasion and we don't like that either.
The New Zealanders also do Strine they however have a significant problem with the vocalisation of some vowels.
They simply can't pronounce them.
For example a New Zealander would say "fush" instead of "fish" and "chups" instead of "chips".
Listening to New Zealanders converse in such a way and for any length of time is painful and annoying.
It is acoustically offensive and it is often intolerable.
It is this distinctive vowel impairment that differentiates them from we Australians.
I tend to speak Strine more frequently and quite easily when I am in the company of my countrymen and women at expatriate gatherings that I occasionally attend here on the Island.
I attend these gathering at places that are named the Boomerang Bar or the Platypus Kitchen.
Yes I am serious.
These are real names.
Yes I know.
We all speak Strine when we gather at such places.
Perhaps it is the names of these establishments and being amongst our kinfolk that compels us.
I just slip into it.
When conversing and communicating with the Bogans in Melbourne and Sydney - when I was back home - I speak Strine out of necessity. Many people would not understand me otherwise – or they would assume that I am English.
The current Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is of Bogan stock and he speaks bold and fluent nasal Strine.
Like most politicians he is also a dick – although Strine has little to do with this.
Many Strine words are just made up.
"Fair Dinkum", "Strewth" "Yobbo" and "Ridgy-Didge" are some examples.
Few non-Strine speakers would know the meaning of some of our Strine words.
There is "Woopwoop' for example and "Tucker" and "Hooroo" and “Dunny”.
For those who may be interested in knowing, "Woopwoop' is a place in the middle of nowhere.
"Tucker" is food" and a “Dunny” is a toilet.
“Hooroo" means goodbye.
“Hooroo" means goodbye.