Frothing

Considering my current location and the time of year, I thought this word would be appropriate. I am in Whistler for the next week and rest assured there are plenty of Australians rolling into town, all frothing on the upcoming season. You can feel the tension in the air. It’s early November, but there is plenty of snow on the runs already. The local papers are full of comments about whistler’s special connection to nature, about how the coming of winter makes residents feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Correct use of this word depends on context. You can froth something, froth on something, be frothing something, be frothing on something . . . the possibilities are endless. You can even use frothing as a one-word response in conversation, simply to convey that you are excited. For example:

“How are you feeling about the upcoming winter?”

“Frothing! I froth snowboarding ay, and I’m totally frothing on this new board I have at the moment.”

Okay, maybe it wouldn’t go down exactly like that, but you get the idea.

I assume this word is a shortened version of the phrase “frothing at the mouth” (surprise, surprise, an Australian word that is secretly short for something else) and while this phrase makes me think of rabies in an unappealing way, the background strengthens the meaning that “frothing” conveys – an almost hyperbolized feeling of excitement or enthusiasm. But it’s laid back too, because they’ve shortened it, and that’s how Australians work. It shouldn’t make sense, but it does. Trust me, I’m the expert. I froth grammar and diction.

Ay

Those outside of Canada often cite “eh” as the quintessential Canadian linguistic identifier. I thought the sentence suffix was unique to the Great White North, until I came here. Australians, especially those from New South Wales (at least more so than those from Victoria) have a habit of tacking “ay” onto the end of their sentences. One may think that this is no different than the Canadian “eh”, but I have noticed a few subtle differences. For one, the two words sound completely different, revealing the full force of each national accent. Also, Canadians often say “eh” with the sort of upwards intonation typical of North America, while Australians tend to use neutral or downward intonation.

Both are rather charming colloquialisms that entrench caricatured versions of Canadian and Australian National Identities. For example, the other day, I felt it was necessary to inform my friend that his serial use of the word was starting to make him sound like a bogan. Like any slang word, “ay” can easily be overused. However, since it is relatively harmless and in an odd way reminds me of home, I don’t mind hearing it.  It actually sort of makes me feel more comfortable ay (eh).

Cool As

This is more of a grammatical post than a slang or word choice one, but I didn’t want to simply put “as” as the title, so here we are. To put it simply, wherever Canadians would use “so”, Australians more often use “as”. For example:

Canadian: “That snowboard is so cool”

Australian: “That snowboard is cool as”

Or

Canadian: “It’s so cold out today”

Australian: “It’s cold as today”

A lot of Canadians express frustration upon hearing this grammatical miracle, begging aussies to explain “Cool as WHAT?” and finish their sentence. To be fair though, the Canadian version is also guilty of sentence fragmentation. The snowboard is so cool that what? It’s so cold out today that what? Technically the statements above stand on their own, but the verb “so” often begs the use of a dependent clause to have any useful meaning.

Never mind. Language does not bend to the rules of grammar, and I slide easily enough into either way of speaking whenever I switch continents.

Arc Up

I’ve heard this one a lot in Australia, but funnily enough, the incident that made this word memorable happened in Canada. Actually, it happened while crashing at an Aussie friend’s house in Whistler, so I guess one could argue that this event DID happen in Australia. Anyways, while relaxing in the evening, a commercial that was slightly offensive to women appeared. The exchange went roughly like this between the two Aussies sitting on the couch:

“That’s sexist!”

“What do you care? You’re not a woman.”

“Yeah, but if women are going to keep complaining about sexism, we may as well start arcing up about it.”

So, “arcing up” as I understand it, means to bitch or complain about some general issue in an unnecessarily enthusiastic or belligerent way. If anyone thinks I’m wrong, go ahead and arc up at me.