Three questions about Australian English
June 21, 2015 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Toward a better definition of "bogan;" gender differences in everday speech; an American tourist speaking without giving offense?

1) Can an Asian Australian, or for that matter any non-white Australian, be a 'bogan?'

2) Do Australian woman say "mate?"

It could just be selection bias.There's a long list of Aussie men I can hear in my mind--Steve Irwin, Paul Hogan, Pat Cash, Lleyton Hewitt, Richard Roxburgh, Mel Gibson (born in New York, yes, but as Max had a thick 'strayan' accent).

cf Austrialian women, it's a list of one: Julia Gillard, who I can't recall ever having ever heard say the word 'mate.'

Aside from JG, I recently binge-watched "Rake" on Netflix, and I'm pretty sure a female character on the show never called a person "mate."

Since I'm not watching the show again, am I'd like to know if "mate" is by and for men only in Australia.

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, how politically incorrect are 'Ayer's Rock' and 'Aborigine/Aboriginal'?

'Aborigine/Aboriginal' and 'Ayer's Rock' were colonial impositions. Ayer's Rock is now "Uluru," which I've heard pronounced




wherein lies the problem. I don't know how to say Uluru, but evidently Australians don't either, b/c they say it three different ways. The preferred name is Uluru, yes, but I know exactly how to say Ayer's Rock.

Vicious circle.

Either way, I feel like I end up sounding like a dickhead American tourist.

Last, regarding Aboriginal/Aborigine: In the US, it's "Native American" instead of "Indian," and "Inuit" instead of "Eskimo." Similarly, is there a more evolved, proper way to refer to Australia's native people?
posted by BadgerDoctor to Travel & Transportation around Australia (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure about the bogan question, but I can answer the others to some extent, from my background as a linguist who works on indigenous Australian languages sometimes.

I have a colleague who worked on the use of "mate" in Aus English and found that women do use it about each other, and sometimes men use it to women and vice versa. Neither is as common as men using it to men, though. I am female and get called mate by bus drivers or tradies quite often.

Stress patterns in Australian languages don't work the same as in English. In general the stress is much more even across syllables, so it doesn't matter so much where you put the stress in Uluru. Try to keep the syllables evenly stressed if you can.

Generally it is best to refer to an Indigenous person by their specific affiliation, e.g. "A Warlpiri man" or "a Gurindji woman". This is how people will usually refer to themselves. If you don't know the specifics, or want to refer to a mixed group, indigenous should be used to include Torres Strait islanders, or Aboriginal (capital A) to refer to a group that does not include Torres Strait islanders. Actually recently I think AIATSIS recommended people no longer use indigenous that way but instead say "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people". "Aborigines" as a noun is not used so much. I'm not sure if it's actually offensive. I avoid it and say Aboriginal people instead.
posted by lollusc at 6:55 PM on June 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

(1) I have no idea.

(2) This Australian woman says mate in the following contexts:
- to some of my female friends, generally to convey sympathy - "Oh mate, I'm so sorry"
- to some of my male friends in a deeply ironic way - "Maaaaaaate, owyagoin!"
- to male strangers to indicate extreme displeasure and fury - "Listen, mate, you're being a dick, cut it out"

(3) I say it the third way, with the initial 'u' pronounced as in 'look'

(4) Indigenous Australians or Indigenous people are preferred. Aboriginal Australians is OK. Never, ever, Aborigines or Blacks.
posted by girlgenius at 6:55 PM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I am Aussie woman and I don't use the word mate, I also HATE being called mate. I say g'day all the time though, without even realising. Mate can be quite condescending and I know that my male family members don't use it and do not like it being used to refer to them. I would probably err on the side of caution of using it towards a stranger in a personal sense. Saying 'a pint of pale, mate' to a bartender is fine. (Cheers to the South Aussies)

I would say Uluru as OO-la-Roo.

I don't hear the term Aborigine used, Aboriginal is the term. But I am not sure you would have a case to use it unless in private. Aboriginal Australians is great.

As for bogans, anyone can be a bogan I guess, but I think white Australians are the group who are associated with the term mostly.
posted by Youremyworld at 6:58 PM on June 21, 2015

One further thing about referring to Indigenous Australians: you might sometimes use the term Koori or Murri used. These are geographic terms (you can see a list of others here) and are generally only used by Indigenous people to refer to themselves.
posted by girlgenius at 7:04 PM on June 21, 2015

1. With difficulty: it's become an ethnic identifier for white poor people in the suburbs.
2. I know many women who say 'mate', some use it only for other women, some for everyone, it's a matter of preference. I know other women who never use it. Both are completely normal.
3. it's not the worst language crime, but calling it 'Ayers Rock' is just bad manners. I say 'Uluru' without an emphasis.
4. 'Aboriginal person/woman/man': Aboriginality goes with the adjective not the noun (any more than you'd say 'a Chinese'). And be careful with 'indigenous', it's a generic term. As the rule of thumb goes, eucalyptus trees are indigenous, so are koalas, but they are not Indigenous people.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:07 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Anyone can be a bogan... Except maybe Aboriginal people (but I can't argue the point here, just a perception). Perceptions of boganism may reflect more upon the perceiver than the perceived. I, for example, often dress like a sterotyped bogan (uggies, flannies, tracky dacks), and I drive a vehicle favoured by bogans, but am I a bogan? That's not for me to say, but I've just spent a week in the Bogan River region (near Dubbo), and I didn't see many bogans myself.

I think you are on to something there with women and the word 'mate'. I only say it ironically or sarcastically. I'm much more likely to say 'luv', 'lovey', 'darl' or 'possum'.

Don't fret about the pronunciation of Uluru. No one else does.

As for how to refer to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this information paper on appropriate terminology might help.
posted by Thella at 7:13 PM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

1. I'd say no

2. talking with a US friend the other day and he exclaimed gleefully at one point "I knew you say 'mate' unironically" but it was part of a story where I was pissed at a guy, which is where a lot of my 'mates' get used.

3. U-luh-roo is how I say it I think? Accents varying. I can't see this being a big "you fucked up" thing

4. Aboriginal person probably. Indigenous is something I see mostly used in theoretical/broad areas and it is starting to be replaced in a lot of areas. Aborigine is no. It doesn't come up all that much in conversation, even when I'm talking with people who work in the area, as it is either actual geographic/tribal affiliation or just...not? I guess? We might talk about Aboriginal legend if we're looking at commonalities across mobs, or the pisspoor state of race relations might mean the term Black is used (due to the use of the term by the groups themselves), or Indigenous kin lines, but rarely pointing out in conversation if someone is Aboriginal.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:17 PM on June 21, 2015

Australian woman with Asian ancestry here.

1. Yeah mate. Chinese people in particular have been here so long that you'll find us in every demographic.
2. Yeah mate. But yes, more commonly used by men. Australian women who come from families that have been here several generations are more likely to say mate.
3. Say OO-luh-ROO. I say Aboriginal people or Indigenous people. Indigenous Australian people is also okay but cumbersome. Yes never ever Aborigines or any of the slang you might hear.

But also, we're relaxed remember? If you're polite, curious and genuine, no one will care if you don't speak as PC as a government official should.

Enjoy your visit! I hope you love it.
posted by stellathon at 7:19 PM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm an american transplant to Australia for 10 years via Europe. Using "Mate" between women is fairly commonplace, if mainly in ironic, humorous or sometimes supportive situations. That's if my bookclub, golfing buddies (all women) and other friends are anything to go by. I would almost never use the term with my close male friends. It just doesn't feel right.

Nothing else to add about Uluru, although there are other place names that are often gotcha's for visiting Americans. Not so much around respecting Aboriginal culture though. Practice Canberra.

I think it's possible for pretty much anyone to be a bogan. To me it's much more a reflection of attitude (for good or bad) than ethnicity. Although, there can be a strong association with particular regions or suburbs, most of which to my understanding are pretty multi-cultural. That said, it would be an exceedingly rare situation that I would ever use that term.
posted by michswiss at 7:28 PM on June 21, 2015

1) Yes. Anybody can technically be a bogan, but it is mostly whitefellas who are. That said, non-white bogans are generally pretty rare as one of the characteristics of a bogan (and not just a white person who is poor and happens to live in a bogan area) is being a racist. I hate bogans and wish them all great ill.

2) Yes, though mostly amongst bogans. "Buddy" (all sexes) is also gaining market share.

3) All the terms you mention are still used and can be found at various points on the Chart of Acceptable Word-Speaking depending on what kind of crowd you are interacting with. "ool-a-roo" ("ool" as in "wool") is how I say it (when it needs to be said at all, which is rare) and I believe that "indigenous Australians" is the preferred nomenclature.

Protip: if you're going to visit Uluru, say instead that you are going to Alice Springs (the nearest town). Then wait for the Australian to say "Oh, are you going to visit Ayers Rock/Uluru/the Rock?" and then that's the way you say it to that person. The benefit here is they've already said it so if you're still uncomfortable you just confirm or deny your intention to visit "it".
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:44 PM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

2) Do Australian woman say "mate?"
Australian Journal of Linguistics, Volume 29, Issue 2, 2009
The Address Term Mate in Australian English: Is it Still a Masculine Term?

Whereas mate has traditionally been understood as a male solidarity term used ‘by males and for males’, this preliminary survey shows that more young women, aged between 18 and 29 years, are reporting their use of the address term mate compared to women aged over 50 years. The preliminary study seems to suggest that instead of mate being characterized as a neutral term used by men to show equality and egalitarianism, young women now see mate as a friendly and fun term that, along with many other address forms, is available to show intimacy.
posted by zamboni at 7:52 PM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

1) I can't imagine a person of Asian decent being bogan, one of the hall marks is being racist. But hey, never say never.

2). I don't use "mate" but I have female friends who do.

3). I think I'd say "ool- uh - roo" but don't worry about this one. Agree with lollusc about the even stress on syllables, it's the key to not getting tangled up with our place names.
posted by kitten magic at 7:57 PM on June 21, 2015

But seriously, don't worry. People who come accross as a dickhead do so because they want to be a dickhead to people. Just be polite and friendly and yourself and you'll be fine.

The only thing that I find really outs people as american tourists is speaking loudly. I think, like the british we tend to be a bit quieter spoken in public. I hadn't noticed in the USA but when I had a bunch of american friends visit me in Australia I felt like we were being much louder than normal (and we definitely got looks from other patrons). But it's hard to articulate how they were being louder as they weren't being raucous or anything. Just better able to project their voices I guess. We probably mumble too much.
posted by kitten magic at 8:07 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Everything else has been covered but: do not assume that because turbid dahlia used "whitefella" that it's a commonly used term throughout the country, and definitely do not whip out "blackfella" as an American tourist.

As a rule, the more metropolitan the place is, the less people will notice or care that you're American, but people will always fix on it as a topic for small talk.
posted by gingerest at 8:25 PM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

1) yes, I think so. But if you are working on avoiding offence, I would not use them term bogan. It's pretty rude to describe someone else as a bogan except in jest. And only then if you are sure they're comfortable with it, which varies betwen ppl. It's a pretty classist term, so I'd only use it self-deprecatingly, personally.
2) some women do. I'd say none of the men or women I know would probably use it. Again, it's probably a class/regional thing. australia is varied, as the USA is, presumably. Fwiw, your roll call of men are all of the type I would classify as bogans, excepting Richard Roxburgh, and then you are contrasting them with the former pm. So not really much of a sample set.
3) it seems that lollusc has a pretty definitive answer there.
posted by jojobobo at 8:28 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

(oh yeah sorry, for god's sake don't say "blackfella")
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:33 PM on June 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

My Australian friend says that "bogan" is roughly equivalent to the American "redneck" and similar to the English "chav" or "scrote". I don't think it is impossible for an Asian Australian to fit the description but most of them tend to be white.

You won't get shot for saying Ayer's Rock but it's better to say Uluru and that's what it says on road signs, souvenirs, etc. now. It's pronounced UH-lah-roo.

Aboriginal etc. are okay when you are talking about history but not when you are describing an individual.
posted by intensitymultiply at 9:03 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Protip: a lot of Australian language / idiom is very subtly contextual, and varies widely from place to place and person to person. You're never going to get it 100% right, and your accent will mark you as a tourist anyway - even a different Australian regional accent will do that - so, beyond being polite, don't worry too much about it.

1) Yes; 'Boganity' is almost an attitude-dependent thing - or at least an imagined-attitude thing - and, in the great Australian tradition of mock-egalitarianism, anyone can be a bogan regardless or race, colour, or creed. It's something of a class signifier too, but even then there's at least 2 vastly different sub-classes - the 'classic' bogan (ugg boots & flannelette shirt [thongs & T-shirt in warmer climes], packet of Winnie blues tucked in the arm, ute in the city even if they're not a 'tradie', & you could have an insightful conversation about Bon Scott-era Acca Dacca &/or the Oils with them); and the 'nouveau bogan', as epitomised in Things Bogans Like - the bogan attitude, with added bling.

It's not necessarily a signifier of racism. Almost by definition, racists are considered bogans - but not all bogans are racist.

Anyone can be one - we've had at least 2 Prime Ministers which many people would consider bogans.

2) In my experience, yes, though by no means universal. Again, very context-dependent - you typically wouldn't call your family 'mate', but it's common between people of roughtly similar ages &/or in similar circumstances (e.g. you might call your co-workers 'mate' regardless of age). Or as a signifier that you understand someone else's circumstances - "geez, that's terrible, mate".

The flipside of that is it gets used to indicate that the speaker wants to establish a common circumstance (i.e. indicate that "we're all in this together, mate"). See the bus-driver example above, or imagine dealing with a salesman - if they're trying to be friendly & you want to reciprocate you'd say "g'day mate", if you wanted to establish that you're the customer & they're the salesman, you'd just say "g'day".

FWIW, Julia Gillard often used the word "mate"...

3) Re: Uluru - lollusc has that nailed. Nobody, as far as I can tell, pronounces it anywhere near properly except the local people for whom it has significance. I once sat in a camp where a local Aboriginal guy gently mocked his mate from a different region for pronouncing it incorrectly - and as far as I could tell, both were pronouncing it the same way ;)

"Ayer's Rock" is not ... well, I wouldn't call it 'politically incorrect', but it does show a certain insensitivity. If you know it's called Uluru & didn't grow up in the time that it was called Ayer's Rock, then call it Uluru - otherwise at least some people will think you're a being a bit of a dick.

As far as I've learned, unless you know the particular tribe or group someone is from, then 'Aboriginal' is pretty widely acceptable. And yeah, as turbid dahlia's already made clear, 'blackfella' is right out. You might be able to say it if your Aboriginal mate calls you a 'whitefella', but you'd want to be bloody sure it was going to be taken in the same vein. Think the N-word in US English...
posted by Pinback at 9:37 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Pitched this to my mate in Victoria:

> 1, ANYONE can be a bogan
> 2, women saying mate is rare, but not unheard of
> 3, hmmm. i say it as ool a roo, that's how i've heard it pronounced, news shows n such, aboringinal/aborigine/indigenous australian, all correct terms, afaik, on a scale of 1 - 10, about a 3 on each

I'd add the caveat that you keep in mind that his "ool a roo" is how an Australian hears it in his own accent, so your local version of "ool a roo" might not sound the same. I'm not going to break out the IPA Chart and have him render it in that. We don't have that kind of friendship.

[kitten magic]: I think I'd say "ool- uh - roo" but don't worry about this one. Agree with lollusc about the even stress on syllables, it's the key to not getting tangled up with our place names.

In re: that, my friend adds this:
hehe yes, like Woolloomooloo, pronounced usually as woolamaloo

Speaking for myself, an American from the eastern seaboard with southern roots, I avoid calling people rednecks unless I'm absolutely positive they embrace the term for themselves, or they're familiar enough to take it as an affectionate joke. I wouldn't be calling anyone a Bogan who doesn't call themselves one. If I want to speak of rednecks as a group, I ask myself why, because it's not a group, it's a stereotype that some people live up to, and some people embrace, and some both, and then I try to pick a better term to describe what I really want to describe.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:38 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

11 years ago I went to Australia(partly to avoid the Republican convention in NY). When I told locals in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne that I'd be going to Yulara they had no idea what I meant.
posted by brujita at 9:57 PM on June 21, 2015

speaking for myself, an American from the eastern seaboard with southern roots, I avoid calling people rednecks unless I'm absolutely positive they embrace the term for themselves, or they're familiar enough to take it as an affectionate joke. I wouldn't be calling anyone a Bogan who doesn't call themselves one.

Oh gosh, yes to this a million times. I might refer (when talking to close friends/family) to people as 'bogans' knowing that by doing so they'll picture the stereotype and so setting the context for my anecdote, but I'd never ever ever call someone a bogan to their face, or in their hearing or whatever. I'd deserve a punch in the head for that. Maybe it's different if people use the term amongst themselves (I knew people who used "chav" like that) but as a visitor you'll not be in that inner circle.
posted by kitten magic at 10:07 PM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Originally American, living in Melbourne for 21 years now. So also Australian, not that some Aussies would agree.

1. I think that although there may actually be Asian bogans, the stereotype was created for Anglos (white people) and most people, upon hearing "bogan" would picture a white person. Better to avoid the issue completely by not referring to people as bogans, since it isn't a complimentary term and if you are not sure what one is, you might call a bogan a bogan. Which would be bad.

2. Yes, sometimes. I even do sometimes. Usually only when dealing with the general public, in one of those instances where you combine a thousand different little aural and visual clues in about a split second and decide that yes, this is a person whom it is appropriate to call mate, and might actually achieve better results if I do. It's hard to explain. Definitely not a habitual mode of address.

3. I mostly hear oo-luh-roo. But others have covered this more extensively.

4. Aboriginal Australian or Aboriginal person. Definitely not aborigine. Indigenous Australian is possibly ok, but probably better to steer clear. Definitely not indigenous (applied to plants, animals etc, not people). In Victoria, people do use the term "Koori". You may see offices like "Koori liaison officer" etc. On the other hand, they may also refer to a particular tribe, like Wurundjeri. "Koori" is not a tribe but rather a generic term for Aboriginal people of NSW-VIC-TAS.

Don't worry about blending in. I have been here (I think I mentioned) for more than half of my life, including the majority of my adult life. Americans don't exactly know where I am from, but they know it's not the US. And yet to your average Australian, I apparently sound fresh off the plane. Australians are weird. If you are visiting Victoria/Melbourne, the most helpful thing you can do is learn that Melbourne is pronounced "MEL-bun". Bun as in hot cross bun, finger bun, or - huh, those are all non-US examples. You know, bread product. That's it. Just pretend it's written without an R. Oh yeah, and Aussies = Ozzies. Steer clear of those embarrassments and you'll be right.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:00 PM on June 21, 2015

I am a native Spaniard, naturalised Australian. This is very much in my wheelhouse.

1. I often joke often that as a non-English speaker immigrant in Australia, you can become anything you want, except a Bogan and a mainstream TV presenter. I would posit that an Asian bogan would be an extreme rarity, even if natively born Australian. Incidentally, there aren't that many Asian TV presenters, even Australia-born. Coincidence?

2. My wife's aunt Gwen once called her son, her husband and her father "mate" in the space of 5 minutes. Her husband called her "mate" back. My mother in law calls her husband mate often enough. My wife only calls me mate when she's being mock-angry, as in "watch it, mate!". But then again, I'm not very mate-y, and wife claims that "mate" is more of a NSW thing, and she's a proud Melbournian.

3. and 4. Nothing to add to what's already answered. Ah, a (white, anglo-Australian) friend of a friend uses "blackfella" and "whitefella" all the time, which I guess she thinks is ok because she did some anthropology work in aboriginal communities, but she gets on my tits when she does it, and I've barely met an aboriginal person.
posted by kandinski at 12:09 AM on June 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't call blackfella akin to the n-word, but it is highly contextual in that yeah, you do anthro work or live in community or on country there's a difference between you using blackfella/whitefella, and some random chopper who doesn't know an Aboriginal person using it when talking. In that respect it is very different (also, I've read more than one bit of research using blackfella and blackfellas which I assume doesn't occur for n-word usage).
posted by geek anachronism at 12:29 AM on June 22, 2015

1) I wouldn't rule out a non-white bogan, but I can't say I've ever met one. I don't think poverty is a necessary criterion of bogan-ness, as some of the above definitions seem to imply, nor that racism is necessarily involved. I do think the definition I've come to understand includes a limited outlook on the world...parochialism?

2) Australian woman say "mate" a lot less than men, but it's still a thing. I'm Australian and a woman, and I generally only use it in the way that geek anachronism notes - with a sarcastic sting, and usually not to someone's face. But I have a wonderful female friend who calls me mate, and that is fine with me too.

3) a. It's within my lifetime that the change from Ayer's Rock to Uluru occurred in common usage, but Uluru has definitely won that battle, so I'd be surprised to hear anyone call it Ayer's Rock these days. I pronounce it much like stellathon says - OO-luh-ROO - perhaps slightly more emphasis on the last syllable than the first. But if I heard a tourist call it Ayer's Rock I wouldn't make judgements about their level of political correctness, I would just think their map was a bit old.
b. You might be interested in a document I stumbled on yesterday, about appropriate use of Aboriginal terminology in the NSW Health Department. Although it's a bit old now, it will probably give a good picture of what's widely accepted. Summary: Aboriginal as an adjective is fine, Aboriginal/Aborigine as a noun is to be avoided, Indigenous (with a capital I) is problematic because although it is more inclusive (including Torres Strait Islanders as well as Aboriginal Australians), Aboriginal people don't necessarily feel it reflects their identity. [Anecdotally, Aboriginal people don't necessarily feel they have much in common with Torres Strait Islanders, so might feel like the "Indigenous" or "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" labels are just "other"]. "First Australians" is also fine (but not widely used.)
posted by Cheese Monster at 12:40 AM on June 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm a woman and I use "mate" but only to my mates (who are very close friends) from a low-socio-economic background or in the following context, "x is my mate" or "son/daughter is hanging with his/her mates". If I ever say, "oi mate!" it's definitely in jest, though I have friends of both gender (more blokes than chicks) who use it completely naturally and unironically.

I work in tertiary education (which has guidelines for such things) and I would never refer to Australia's First Peoples (a term recently adopted by some of major advocating organisations for Indigenous people) as "aborigine". In fact, if I heard that term, I would be shocked. Aboriginal is used (on preview, as Cheese Monster says, as an adjective). To use black fella as a term implies either political incorrectness (deliberate or unintentional) or a close connection with the community. One of my friends identifies with the community though he was not raised as part of it (his mother, and her family tried to hide that part of the family tree) and he refers to himself and other indigenous people as black fella. He also uses the word "mate", including as part of his teaching style (high school science teacher in, as he describes it, a "bogan" area).

A bogan can have any ethnicity, but is most likely to be of European descent, and who was born here (and likely, but not always, their parents and grandparents too). The use of the term is usually derogatory unless you are one.

I visited Uluru in the early 80s and the name change was occurring then. Ayers Rock is quite uncommon.
posted by b33j at 3:31 AM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

My children are all indignant that so many of you think we can't be bogans just because we're Asian. I've told them they can do whatever they put their mind to. Boom tish!

Seriously, a couple of people said probably not because bogans are racist. I came back to say Asians, like anyone, are plenty capable of being racist.

Pauline Hanson had a lot of Asian supporters. I reckon there'd be a bogan or two amongst them.
posted by stellathon at 3:43 AM on June 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

Bogan is largely a term of abuse, similar to hick, redneck or bumpkin except describing someone from an outer suburb rather than a rural area. Unless you are one in which case it may be used with both pride and affection. My advice is, if in doubt, don't.

As for Ayers Rock, insisting on using the colonial name would be like naively waving a Confederate flag around, IMO. Put it down mate! I say "Oo-loo-ROO", mind you it's a long way from my neck of the woods so if you are going there you can do your own research.

And as for mate, your mileage may vary, it very much depends on the context. I don't feel I've quite mastered that one- it's interesting to see what others say about it.
posted by Coaticass at 4:31 AM on June 22, 2015

In this odd article about racism toward a three year old the mother of the child calls herself a proud blackfella. Is this phrased used for self reference often?
posted by k8t at 6:09 AM on June 22, 2015

Bogan reflects more upon the sayer than the subject. So it really is a case of it depends, as you can tell from the answers here everyone has their ow opinion on it. If you called people that weren't white bogan I don't think you'd be corrected by anyone and people would know what you meant. Though to be honest it's probably a safer term to avoid if you aren't comfortable using it or sure who you are using it around.

Uluru is pronounced with the same stress on all syllables and in short sharp syllables.

Women saying Mate depends where you are. I lived in a small country town, with lots of blue collar or hospitality workers & mate was said a lot more by everyone than it was when I lived in the bigger cities. No one will be offended or bothered if you use it. You may get teased as an American doing it, teasing is a sign of Australian affection so if that happens to you take it for that.

Since I've moved to the US it has dropped pretty much by the wayside except to my (american) husband for some reason. My G'day on the other hand is alive & well so go figure. If you're not sure & someone calls you mate, you can then officially call them mate back. You'd use it in places an older person might use the word "dear" and for may of the same reasons, my main one being, this is a small town, I know your face but damned if I can remember your name.

As an American tourist, with your accent people will know you are a visitor, Australians love visitors because then we get to show off the "Greatest country on Earth". Australians are very forgiving if you don't take yourself too seriously. When in doubt just ask, the only chance you'd come off as a dickhead tourist is by not asking, so the fact that you cared enough to actually check these things here makes me know you won't be one of those. Try to do the right thing, say sorry for a mistake & have a sense of humor & laugh about them & you'll be fine. The only issue of all the ones you listed I'd be worried about giving offence with is the Aborigine/Aboriginal one which others have covered very well and when in doubt call no one bogan.
posted by wwax at 6:41 AM on June 22, 2015

In this odd article about racism toward a three year old the mother of the child calls herself a proud blackfella. Is this phrased used for self reference often?

Like geek anachronism mentions, yes, but usage is contextual and geographic.

It’s all about the context. “Depending on the audience, you might use the expression ‘blackfellas,’ which Aboriginal people use amongst themselves but you’d be very careful of using that in public because some people would it offensive for a whitefella to use that expression. Others wouldn’t,” said O’Keefe.

Seiver agreed: “Aboriginal people will sometimes describe as blackfella, but would not be appropriate for a white person to refer to a person as a blackfella. What matters is whether there’s malice attached to it. ‘Blacks’ in the local context is not necessarily a derogatory term, but in other circumstances it may well be.”
As for how to refer to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this information paper on appropriate terminology might help.

There's various versions of that document floating around, based on a UNSW guide from 1996. It does discuss whitefella/blackfella/yellafella:
The Aboriginal English words ‘blackfella’ and ‘whitefella’ are used by Indigenous Australian people all over the country — some communities also use ‘yellafella’ and ‘coloured’. Although less appropriate, people should respect the acceptance and use of these terms, and consult the local Indigenous community or Yunggorendi for further advice.
There's a newer version from the Flinders Yunggorendi Centre:

Appropriate Terminology, Representations and Protocols of Acknowledgement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Many Aboriginal South Australians prefer people not to presume the right to use [their language name]. Use the most appropriate term when known and when you do not know consult with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
posted by zamboni at 9:33 AM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're an American tourist there's no shame in sounding like an American tourist? Like don't say blackfella or anything dumb and you're fine?

1) Not often, but I like to think the country is becoming more inclusive. ;)

2) This Australian woman does, mate.

3) Say Uluru. No emphasis on any syllable over another. We're all making compromises on that one. Don't say "aborigine". Say Aboriginal person. Capital A. You know it's an adjective.
posted by jujulalia at 9:51 AM on June 22, 2015

I've never seen bogans who aren't white and Australian born, or thought of people who aren't white Australians as bogans. People who fit the classic 'Leb' stereotype might have characteristics of 'hoons' or 'yobbos' and there's some union of those sets with 'bogan' but they already have their own word - 'Leb', obviously. Even white immigrants can't be bogans (for example, new arrivals from eastern Europe who might also be overly fond of trackies, tattoos, Falcodores and mullets). I dunno what they are, but they're not bogans. Just dickheads, I guess. Whatever they are, you don't call people bogans to their faces. Bogans can self-identify, in which case the polite thing to do is laugh warmly.

I don't know many women who aren't bogans who say 'mate'. My wife says it to our kids ('come on mate, it's time for bed'), but otherwise, not so much.

Ayers Rock vs Uluru depends on the context, like who's saying it and why. Ayers Rock is becoming a bit archaic, but I'd want other markers before I thought we were getting into redneck territory. 'The Rock' seems to be making a comeback, but I don't have any hard evidence for that. If you were 50-something and white I wouldn't think anything of it. To say 'Uluru' keep the 'l' with the first 'u', so 'ul-uh-roo' vs 'ooh la la'. Equal stress on all syllables, which is to say, none.

My mother is Aboriginal and I've spent most of my career working in Indigenous affairs. The words 'aborigine' and 'aboriginal' probably wouldn't even get an eyebrow from me (unless you were using 'aboriginal' as a noun, but that's a grammar nazi thing). People do tend to say 'Kooris', 'Murris', etc or 'blackfellas' rather than 'aborigines', which is a bit archaic, but I don't think anybody would gasp. People say 'aboriginal people' and 'aboriginal land' and 'aboriginal art' and 'aboriginal organisations' all the time. If you know the name of the particular group, then it's nice to say that if you can pronounce it (maybe start with something easier than Ngaanyatjarra, although even that's piss easy once you know how).

I'll go against the consensus above that 'blackfella' is a no no. It depends who is saying it and why they're saying it - and, to be fair, how far west and north you are. 'What do blackfellas think about this?' or 'What's the blackfella word for this?' or even 'You blackfellas are a fuckin' strange mob sometimes' would all be OK to me. Racists rarely say 'blackfella'. They say 'black cunt', 'abo', and 'coon'. If in doubt, just say 'Aboriginal people'.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:05 AM on June 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

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