Accepting the Vegemite Sandwich

OK, fair enough in deference to my previous post on the good choice of Chaucer to buy into local lingo,  and even with accepting the so-so nature of the Mark Zuckerberg dialectic, there are some nuances with mis-use of the English language which have annoyed and confused me at times too.

Take my arrival in Australia way back in 1990, for instance, and my first travels up North from Sydney to the Gold Coast, and beyond the bright lights of Brisbane, to the rustic and quirky mix of the coal-mining and tourist town of MacKay, Queensland.

On my way there, I found it disconcerting how the locals “up North” would add a “but” to the end of their sentences. Finally, and perhaps almost stupidly, in a pub with my Kiwi speech therapist friend I had known from University daze back in New Zealand, I decided to challenge a guy on’t who she bemusedly decided to invite over to our table for that very reason.

What’s more, when I even said – rather obscurely, I admit – about how I had noted that Queenslanders and Northern New South Welsh people spoke differently to the Aussies down South and to the West, blow me down if he didn’t respond with:

“So, it’s good, but.” 

Scarcely able to contain myself, I responded:

“But bleedin’ what??”    

At that my speech therapist friend nearly fell off her stool, as she collapsed in stitches laughing. When she had sufficiently recovered, I asked her to explain what had, er, “tickled her so” (and please note the attempted poetic use of the word “so” here):

“You meant “but”, right?? But Aussies are used to Kiwis making the “i” sound, sound like a “u” – and so Big, Bad Bruce [ and, yes, that was his name – OK?! ] may have thought you meant “bit” when you said “but” as well as forgetting to use the word “obvious” after “bleedin'”, as Kiwis often do in not finishing sentences which they expect people to know the ends to”
“Sooooo….I think it actually may have come across to lovely, dear Bruce here as if you are agreeing with him!! Which may not be a bad thing…..”

I was about to protest otherwise, when I (perhaps fortunately) decided to take stock of the situation – as I noticed my friend had also indicated, as subtlely (for a Kiwi, like me) as she could (by emphasising the words “Big” and “Bad”) that this guy was not just called Bruce, but was also “Big” and “Bad”.  And potentially not all that lovely and dear…..

Plus her eyes were genuflecting, and her head twitching, in a way which drew my attention to the potential reality of the situation in disagreeing with Bruce.  Indeed, if I may take poetic license here, he was “6 foot 4, and full of muscle” – if you get my drift. If you don’t get my drift, then please take a look at the following clip and note the second verse:

So the moral of the story, I’d say, is that it probably sometimes pays to simply accept “the vegemite sandwich” – over the knuckle one, at least. 

Anyway, who says English is meant to be a common language??


About Matt's Tale

A New Age travel writer, seeing the old in the new and the bold in the blue - but mainly seeking the freedom to be, as much as to do. His tales come from meeting modern day travellers following their likes of King Arthur to Geoffrey Chaucer, leading him on to places considered "Camelot" and different ways to see Canterbury and cafes a lot. Email: Twitter: @mattstale
This entry was posted in Australia, MacKay, Northern NSW, Queensland, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Accepting the Vegemite Sandwich

  1. Pingback: ‘Snow better Down Under | mattstale

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