Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Who do you barrack for?

Handsome Australian's Brother (HAB): "So have you decided who you barrack for?"

Me: Quickly flipping through the rolodex in my mind (or for those Gen Y readers out there, googling my mind) trying to figure out what he meant by 'barrack'. Coming up empty handed I had to ask what had easily become my most FAQ since my arrival in Australia, "Excuse me?"

HAB: "Your team. You've gotta have a team. Everyone has a team. Have you chosen a team?"

Me: It would be so nice if I actually knew what team he was talking about. It's quite obvious he thinks I know what he means. Look at his face...ahhh. I'm really not this slow, honest, I'm not. Team? Team? Team? Ok I give up, "Team?"

HAB: Disappointment on his face and a distinct hint of disbelief about my inability to understand anything he was talking about--like 'Is this girl for real? Where did my brother find her anyway?' "Yeah, you know, the footy. Have you chosen a team to barrack for in the footy?"

ME: Oh, the footy. Yes, the footy. Of course, the footy. The what? "I'm sorry, the footy?"

HAB: Slowly losing patience, "Yes, the footy. You know, Aussie Rules FOOTBALL."

ME: Light bulb moment, oh that footy. Of course, Aussie Rules. Yeah I totally knew what he was talking about. I just didn't know that I knew...okay I had no idea, and it was painfully obvious to both him and me. "Oh yeah Aussie Rules. That's like Rugby right?"

HAB: A smile creeping up on his face and then boisterous laughter, "No, no (in between laughs) it's not Rugby. Rugby is totally different. We don't follow the Rugby down here. In Vic (meaning the state of Victoria) we are Aussie Rules people. It's a completely different sport. Do you follow sport at all? I mean anything, basketball, grid iron, soccer anything?

ME: I was with him until the grid iron part...here we go again, "Yes, I do follow sports. Well I like basketball anyway and I root for the San Antonio Spurs. I'm a big David Robinson fan (trying to show I do know something about 'sport' as he calls it). I've even been to a few games. (Casually) What's grid iron anyway?"

HAB: Laughing to himself, slapping his knee and then putting on a straight face, "Um, can I give you a tip?"

ME: Oh my God, what have I done now? A tip? What kind of tip--don't ask so many silly questions about sport? Or even better, don't ask so many silly questions period..."Sure."

HAB: "Whatever you do, don't say 'root' when you talk about your support of a sports team here in Australia. It doesn't mean the same thing here that it does in America. It's kinda rude if you catch what I mean."

ME: Going red in the face. Oh this is so embarrassing. What have I said now? How can they call this English--there is nothing about it that's the same. Afraid to ask, but knowing I'm better off finding out now, "Rude? Do you mean offensive?"

HAB: Relishing this, "Yes, offensive."

ME: "What does it mean exactly?"

HAB: "Here, root means to f**k."

ME: Hands over my mouth, my face turning an even darker shade of red. So I just said the equivalent of 'I f**k the San Antonio Spurs.' Right. Is having a conversation in this country always going to suck this much? All I can muster, "I see."

HAB: "Here we say 'barrack' instead of 'root'. So when someone says, 'Who do you barrack for?' They are asking you which team you support. Which, if you remember now, was my original question to you."

ME: Yes, yes, yes, I do remember hearing that funny little 'barrack' word previously, but that was before I said I liked to f**k an entire basketball team. Surely he can forgive me for forgetting. "Yes, you did ask me that didn't you? Well, I think it'd be pretty obvious by now that I haven't chosen one, but judging by my previous statement, I'm guessing I'll be pretty popular when I do!"

HAB: Laughing really hard. "Bloody oath mate, bloody oath."

Learn the Lingo
footy=can refer to football of all varieties: Australian Rules, Rugby, Soccer, etc.
grid iron=American football
bloody oath=too true (in this case)


kisselreads said...

I made a big mistake thinking the original email was from another teacher. My apologies! I am a friend of your mother's and have know her through tech things we worked on together through the years. I truly enjoyed you blog on Australian English. Diana Kisselburg, Librarian Cedar Grove El.

Scintilla said...

Woah (sp?) you have a lot to learn ! I barrack for Carlton (losers : {)

Maddie said...

LOL!!! That is hilarious!!! And initially I thought (being the centrist American that I am) that perhaps he was asking who you would VOTE for if you were in America right now . . . you know, Barack being one of the candidates in the US this year.

Annelise said...

I thought the sam thing Maddie thought about voting in the U.S. Especially since you have admitted that you actually like "Barrack".

On another note...you know I had a similiar experience in saying a vulgar thing to the handsome Argentine's father. What I said in "Mexican" spanish was "I am going to go pick up my friends, I will be right back". What I apparently said in "Argentine" spanish to the handsome Argentine's father was "I am going to F#@* my friends, I will be right back".
Good times.

Rachel said...

So funny! My son was asking his sister "who do you barrack for?" and I was trying to figure out what on earth he was saying! I had to google it and your post came up! I even asked him to repeat himself and he looked at me like I was an idiot! I had heard that it's not "root", but had previously hear people just ask "who do you GO for?" I guess I'll learn a new phrase every day!

suzinoz said...

Yes Rachel, it's a very steep learning curve at first. It's a whole other language. :) Good luck!

Kim said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and I thought my 10 year old "Aussie" son was doing one of those funny kid things when he said barrack. I repeated going, you mean "back".. you back a team like you support it..

He goes no Mum - its barrack. I was thinking, until my dear husband, said no its barrack and showed me your blog.. he goes Americans and their insular ways..

I went, its not insular, Barrack is military quarters/accomodation in any other dictionary except for an Aussie one.. so go figure.

I also found what I believe to be the "root" of your problem on the word "root", essentially what I believe was a derivative of the word "rut".. oh at least in my "insular" mind is trying to make the connections.

well thank you for your most amusing blog entries and keep-em coming. At least I don't feel like I am the only one clued-out to speaking Aussie.

Hope u have a good "arvo" (afternoon).