L for Laconic Larrikinism

Aussies have a rep.  A couple of reps, actually.  A reputation for being laconic (I’m not, but I can be excused for having been born elsewhere) and a reputation for being larrikins.  I might have been one of those in my younger days: I am way, way too old to be one now! 😉

I always think the classic example of the Aussie tendancy towards brevity in comparison to other nations is a simple joke I heard years ago and which exists in many different versions on the web.  I even found a version today on a church website, describing Jesus.  Strange, but true.

American: “This is a manually-operated horticultural earth-turning  implement.”

Aussie: “It’s a bloody spade!”

I am NOT picking on our friends, the Americans! 😆 However, it never ceases to amaze me how two countries from essentially the same origin (England) ended up so culturally and linguistically different.  When I wrote D for Deprecation, I made similar comparisons.

Aussies do tend toward being a laconic lot, big on the use of irony.  I once read an interview with an American author who had moved here and she said it took her a good two years to get used to Aussie humour.  I have frequently been taken seriously over the internet when I have been joking.  We are probably lucky we haven’t started a world war by accident.

As for larrikinism, I found the following clip on YouTube, I hope the accent doesn’t prove too much of a problem.  If you are the easily offended type, I suggest you don’t watch.

Then there is this clip – much more tasteful, I assure you!  The description of the clip reads, “The Australians arrive in France in WW1. Their laconic humour and disregard for authority rubs the English Gentleman officer up the wrong way.”

I remember sitting in an airport lounge once, don’t ask me where, listening to a very loud conversation between two non-Australian businessmen trying to out do each other.  In what I am not sure, because despite listening to them use a lot of very big words for some 30 minutes, I had no idea what they were talking about.  Maybe I was just homesick!

Our version would probably have been along the lines of this.

“G’day mate.”

“Win the contract?”


“Bonza. Wanna beer, mate?”

Sadly, I have to say, times have changed.  In business at least, we are now “seeking clarity” or deciding on “granularity”, “moving forward” and “having conversations” with the best of them.  We even “commoditize” and “monitize”.  With the “z”.

I leave you all with this one.  Banned in New Zealand, which surprises me, but it was OK in Aussie land.  Very laconic.

Visit http://myatozchallenge.com/find/countries/ to find more countries and articles on the A – Z Challenge.

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27 comments on “L for Laconic Larrikinism

  1. Ah yes most times I want to plug the verbal hole of people who develop diarrhea of the mouth (myself included!)

    There are times when I long for a bloody spade and a beer!


  2. Great post. I think there’s an awful lot actually shared, culturally, across the Tasman. Including Pav, I suspect. Apropos ‘Larrikins’, I heard that it originated in the name of a gang that prowled The Rocks during the first years of the century & stuck when they joined the overseas contingents in 1914. That may also be an urban legend, though.

    That Toyota ad was definitely on TV here. It may have been banned for a while, though – I can’t remember now.


  3. Don’t know why you say it was banned here…we certainly had it on TV…a lot !!!


  4. I loved to read the exchange of views you had with Helen. I read your blog and enjoyed it very much. I am going to watch the videos now.
    As far as similarities go, would you think there are some similarities between Australian and American country music?


    • Keith Urban basically confirms that, don’t you think? 😆 I do think there is a basic difference between the two, simply because the USA has a more American feel and ours has a definite Australian bent. The lyrics are usually quite “Aussie” here. The actual music is very similar, the difference is in the lyrics: I think that is what I am trying to say!

      Have you checked out Helen’s photos? They are stunning!


      • Basically I don’t really know much about the lyrics. I just love this country music sound. I love also the sound of Australian ballads being recited, even though I couldn’t recite them myself. At times I still don’t quite get the Australian lyrics, but I think I understand by now a little bit more than when I first came here in 1959! It’s just that I’d never had the opportunity of talking much to Australians with a broad accent.

        One of my favourite DVDs is A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION with Garrison Kellor and Merryl Streep. The songs and storytelling are very enjoyable.

        Thanks for the tip about Helen’s photos.


  5. Bugger! 😆

    It’s a bloody spade!


  6. Absolutely hilarious! I’d love to see the blokes film but I couldn’t put up with being around a bloke that behaved like that 😉 Th English officer omg what an a**e! Loved the Hilux and apart from the unseen cow ending and I must be more Aussie inclined than American because I can’t stand all that verbose claptrap like the spade description 🙂 🙂 🙂


    • There is definitely a difference, isn’t there? I remember on my last trip to the USA the car ads drove me insane and I asked some locals why on earth did the speaker have to SHOUT in all the damn car ads! Then looking at our car/ute ad – totally different!


  7. Well I’ve learnt a new word !! I had no idea what Larrikinism was.. never heard of it before !


    • Glad to have added to your vocabulary! 😆 How did you like the last video?


      • I thought it was very funny until the cow bit!! Hmm didn’t like that bit too much ! I suspect that was why it was banned?


      • Actually, yes, you could be right. I guess I kinda of allow them poetic licence on that. But the dog at the end gets me every time. I sort of pretend the cow bit is different – although clearly I’m not sure how I manage that.


      • I’m waaaaay to sensitive I know that for sure ;(


      • That’s OK Helen. {hugs} Look at it as a “beware what may happen” sort of warning to buyers kind of thing. 🙂


      • Good call!! oh and the Aussie/ American thing.. sticking my neck out and without researching this at all so take with a pinch of salt… maybe the difference between convict and settler ? if you get my drift 😀


      • Oh, I do hate to do this to you – but I have researched this before. Both the USA and Australia had penal colonies. More convicts were shipped to the USA than to Australia by the English.

        The difference was the Aussies saw it as a badge of pride, the Americans hate it! LOL

        Larrikins, you see. 🙂


      • Stereotypes .. haha serves me right.. I did say I was sticking my head over the parapet.. curious how they developed so diffeently then isn’t it.. life’s a mystery for sure!


      • Trust me, most people believe as you do. I have met one American who knew the history, she is a senior VP of a very large software company. Clearly many Americans would know the facts, just she is the only one I have met that knew!


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  9. I love the Australian humour! Every morning while driving to work I have my favourite radio station on and I laugh along at their silly antics and comments. A great way to start the day! I loved the Hilux commercial, don´t see why it would be banned in NZ.


    • I didn’t know it was banned in NZ. I remember laughing every single time I saw it. I love the ending!

      Glad you like our humor! Rock on Australia.

      It does still leave my family stunned at times!


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