At the register in a local service station buying fuel this week, I was amazed to hear the young motorbike rider in front of me in the queue say “thanks, cobber” to the attendant after his purchase was complete. I swear, I have never heard any Aussie under the age of (at least) 65 use this expression, referring to a male ‘mate’ or ‘friend’. I mentioned it to my other half, who says he’s heard it several times in dealing with local business people since we moved to Tasmania. So far, I haven’t noticed any particular differences in the English spoken in Tasmania compared to elsewhere in Australia. I am sure there are some differences… more research required.
Then it got better… later that day, having an afternoon drink with friends at a fairly upmarket establishment in Hobart, the waiter addressed my husband as “cobbs”! Is that the shortened form of cobber?
Following my recent holiday in Japan, and my professed love of the Engrish.com web site, you might expect me to regale you with stories of the funny signs spotted on the trip. OK, I will indulge… see pictures below. One was taken in a park in Nara where tourists feed the deer… and sometimes themselves. The other shows a restaurant menu with an item called ‘Sansai’ that I’m not terribly keen on eating. You’ll see why.
While I think it’s very rude to travel in a country and not make an effort to learn a few basic words in the local language, I can’t begin to tell you how great it was not being able to understand much on our trip. My brain has never felt so clear. Endless advertisements, lengthy announcements on public transport, TV news – it’s the same in every country. We are endlessly beaten around the head with so much useless and unwanted information. Were we disadvantaged by not being able to understand, for example, the lengthy announcements on the trains and rail platforms? No, we could tell from the sign where the train was going, and by the time on our watch when to get off.
There is a lot we can do to simplify communication and eliminate unnecessary communication. Underload has to be better than overload. We might get to use our brains more.
While visiting the Tamar Valley region of Tasmania early this year I spotted an advertising slogan that really took my fancy. It’s for Jansz sparkling wine, playing on the fact that they can’t call their product ‘champagne’. Very cute. And it’s not a bad drop either. Here’s a postcard from The Australian Ballet promoting the product, with a lovely play on the theme.