Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Mother tongue

It was fifty years ago
I left my place of birth
To furthest Australia I did go
It was best I thought for
They spoke the mother tongue
Up with which I had been brought
O then what a surprise
Hearing words, I was not wise

Friends were now in truth
“Cobbers” for they were your mates
“Bloody oath” in affirmation
or mild surprise may be “strewth”
When I was very busy
I’d be “flat out like a lizard drinking”
So don’t get in a “tizzie”
If that makes you upset

Its not only babies that drool
Who “spit the dummy” in Oz
But anybody that loses their cool
It is not always patriotic to see
Someone to give the “Aussie salute”
As they are brushing the flies away
You’re more likely to be “full”
When leaving a pub than a café

So it is part of my lingo now
So far from “Pommy land”
Driving along I might “Chuck a U-e”
When I’m going the wrong way
Tell the missus “to tart herself up”
She’ll smile, you’re taking her out
So will say “Ridgy didge” coz
She knows you’re a “Bonza” bloke

Expressions that may not be clear in the poem:

Full - drunk
Chuck a U-e – do a quick U turn or backtrack
Ridgy Didge – Genuine guy
Bonza - Brilliant

Image found at

Yes, the sixth line of the first verse is a dig at the rule of avoidance in (correct?) English of ending a sentence with a preposition.


  1. This is great!! Thanks for the peek into where you are from. A delight to read!!

  2. What a bright and happy poem to show your mother tongue and your new one! There are so many English dialects. I love too how you worked the rhyme through some tricky inversions in that first stanza.

  3. Fifty would make it into the true blue classification now .

  4. Oh grand indeed. I love the words that make a culture sing.

  5. This made me smile; and I am glad you provided an interpretive key. I would have been lost without it. I really like these regionalisms.

  6. I LOVE all those Aussie expressions, so cool! I had to smile at telling the wife to "tart herself up". LOL.

  7. It's so amazing to see a language diversify and grow...English has the ability to adapt and accept which makes it a world language...the poem delightfully reflects that truth....

  8. I love it! Language has always fascinated me. In the '80s I read a book called The Story of English, which introduced me to such novelties as Frisian and Gullah. Some people try to define what language is and isn't, but that works about as well as holding back the tide with a broom.

  9. Often there are expressions, used only there.

  10. I learnt a lot from Neighbours! But, yes how different even a shared language is...although i think we know what budgie smugglers are here now ;)

  11. Haha yes the words are so different as we drift from each other.

  12. Bonza! I loved reading about these idioms and different words. It would take me along time to learn them I think.

  13. Love the POV you explore!! :)

  14. Great fun. Aussie talk has penetrated my mother tongue, even though I've never been there - TV and the internet is merging languages in unexpected ways.

  15. Enjoyed that Aussie talk. When I first moved to New Zealand the lingo often stumped me. Loved your interpretation of the prompt - finally one with a multi lingual flavour!