Posts Tagged ‘colloquialisms’

Australia: Fair Dinkum and That’s the Truth

Monday, January 28th, 2008

  “Fair dinkum.” It’s like saying, “Yes, really.” Or, “that’s the truth.”  Or, “actually.” Or “it’s authentic.”  You’ll hear it said in New Zealand by some of the locals, especially on the top half of the North Island. Our cabbie, which we hired out of Napier, New Zealand, used the term when he was telling us about the kidnapping of Captain Cook’s cabin boy by Maori natives, an action which gave rise to the name, Cape Kidnappers (it’s the location on the southern tip of Hawke’s Bay which houses a huge gannet population). 

But it was unusual to hear the word used in New Zealand. “Fair dinkum” is far more an Australian (Aussie) term.  Another New Zealand cabbie which we hired outside of Christchurch, New Zealand, had a stronger definition for fair dinkum. 

“It’s just an Aussie bullshit line,” say cabbie David, who explained the term usually follows a fabricated story that an Aussie wants you to believe.  David has strong feelings about the differences between New Zealanders (Kiwis) and Australians.  For instance, you do NOT make the mistake of referring to a Kiwi as an Aussie; Kiwis get downright cranky when a tourist makes this stupid blunder.  But that aside, fair dinkum is used in both Down Under countries.

The colorful sounding phrase joins other Aussie colloquialisms and common sayings like “nipper,” “mate,” “Sheila,” and “beaut,” terms made popular by the late crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin.

If you want to beef up your Aussie vocabulary, try the Dunway site for a comprehensive list of Australian slang terms.  It’s “fair dinkum.”  Honest!

Sheree Zielke