Marketing Eye

Classy? Or is it Sophisticated?

Ever sat down with a group of friends from another country and felt like the odd one out? Not because you dress particularly strangely, nor due to the fact that they eat a whole different menu than what you are use to (think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - ughhh!), but because your accent and basic language is lost in translation and you are not sure whether to keep quiet to avoid embarrassment or to power through in hope of perhaps teaching your friends a thing or two about being Australian or English or whatever you may be.

I am a particularly proud Australian. My father came to Australia as a 19 year old and could not speak a word of English. My grandparents derive from Europe and Wales, and I had the fortunate upbringing of growing up in rural Australia on a property in a small town named Charters Towers. I am particularly mixed up on where I really come from, but being Australian is something to be very proud of. It's a good country, beautiful beyond belief and the people in general are the nicest, most easy going in the world.

Having travelled around the world many times, my accent is not as thick as most, but its still quite evident, although when I travel to the UK I tend to be more likened to an American accent and usually in the US I am likened to a British accent. I am not sure where they get this one wrong, but it happens and I always seem to laugh it off.

Australian English is more in common with British English with many similar expressions and words used for everyday language. In particular, through my own upbringing, my pronunciations  of words like 'castle' sound more like 'carrrsale' whereas I think middle Australia pronounce the word similar to the American version of 'casssale'. Perhaps this is through watching too much American television - I am not so sure.

The basics:

Australian - American

Bottom - Fanny
Dressing Gown - Robe
Booking - Reservation
Dollar Note - Bill
Autumn - Fall
Chemist/Pharmacy - Drug Store
Cyclone - Hurricane
Conference - Congress
Diary - Date book or planner
Mobile Phone - Cell
Friends - Buddies
Holiday - Vacation
Jug - Pitcher
Lawyer - Attorney
Postcode - Zipcode
Queue - Line
Fringe - Bangs
Bum Bag - Fanny Bag
Shopping Centre - Mall
Tick (the box) - Check (the box)
Whinge - Complain
Biscuits (savoury) - Crackers
Cafe - Diner
Lemonade - Sprite (brand name)
Lollies and sweets - Candy
Prawns - Shrimp
And the list goes on...

Sitting at dinner last night with my girlfriend, a former Rockette, we had a good old laugh about the word 'Classy'. Now, if I were to say someone is classy, I think I would use the term in a 'tongue in cheek' way meaning that they in fact lack class. Instead, I would say that they are sophisticated, have style or etiquette. It's a word that I find is used a lot here, and every time, I have a moment of cringe, particularly if it relates back to me.

IN BUSINESS... it's the same. When you choose to do business in another country, it's important to come up to speed with the frequently used basic words so as to avoid misunderstandings. Just by googling language differences, you will be able to easily find a list of words that are utilised in the basic language of most countries.

Also, note spelling is different from country to country and if you are doing business, make sure all your communications take this into account.

What words stand out for you when you travel?

Mellissah Smith, Atlanta.

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