covers of the Magic or Madness books

My editor at Razorbill, Eloise Flood, is wonderful. One of the best things about her is that she thought it was a good idea for my Australian point-of-view characters, Reason and Tom, to have their chapters with Australian vocabulary, spelling and grammar, and my US point-of-view character, Jay-Tee to have hers using US vocab, spelling and grammar.

I’m so pleased she let me do it! The rhythms of English in Australia and the US are so different from one another and I wanted to convey some of that in Magic or Madness. I thought it would be fun to give the US audience a sense of these difference so they could enjoy English in two of her glorious (confusing) varieties.

Here’s the book’s glossary. If you come across any other words or expressions in Magic or Madness that you don’t understand that aren’t already listed drop me a line.

a bit thing: particular. If someone is a bit thing about how they dress it means they are particular about their attire.

amari: grandfather. A word used by Aboriginal people in the Roper area of the Northern Territory.

ambo: a paramedic (from ambulance)

arse: ass

bickie: short for biscuit, the Australian word for cookie

biscuit: cookie

bitumen: can mean either a paved (sealed) road or the black substance (usually asphalt) used to pave (seal) the road

bloke: guy, man

blue heeler: an Australian cattle dog

boong: racist term for an Australian Aboriginal person

bottlebrush: a tree or shrub with spikes of brightly coloured flowers

Bronze Medallion: system of lifesaving certificates. Almost every school in Australia teaches its students how to swim and how to rescue people if they get into trouble in the water.

bugger: damn. The thing you say when you stub your toe and don’t want to be too rude.

bunyip: creature of Aboriginal legend, haunts swamps and billabongs (waterholes that only exist during the rainy season)

cardie: short for cardigan

chips: like french fries, only better

chop, not much: not very good; to not be much chop at something means you’re crap at it

chunder: vomit

countryman: an Aboriginal person. A word used by some Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

croc: short for crocodile

crook: bad, dodgy

dag: a dag is someone lacking in social graces, someone who is eccentric and doesn’t fit in. The closest U.S. approximation is nerd, but a dag doesn’t necessarily know a thing about computers or mathematics or science.

daggy: adjective from of “dag”

dob in or dob on: to tell on. For example: “I’ll dob you in if you eat all those cakes.”

dodgy: sketchy

dog’s breakfast: a mess, a disaster. To make a dog’s breakfast out of something is to really mess it up.

drongo: someone who’s not very bright

doona: comforter

dunny: toilet

echidna:a spiny anteater

Emoh Ruo: Our Home spelled backward, a common Australian name for your house

esky: cooler, the thing you keep things cold in if you’re going on a picnic

flat out like a lizard drinking: busy, in a hurry

footie: In New South Wales and Queensland means Rugby League (Rugby Union is known as Rugby); in the rest of the country usually means AFL (Australian Football League, popularly known as Aussie Rules).

four-wheel drive: SUV

get on: be friendly with. For example, “Those two don’t get on” means that they aren’t friends.

Gregory’s: a brand of street directory common in New South Wales (the most populous state in Australia, of which Sydney is the capital)

grouse: Excellent, wonderful, although it can also be a verb meaning to complain, as in, “I wish you’d stop grousing about everything.”

gypsy cab: an unlicensed cab

hessian: burlap

H. S. C.: Higher School Certificate, the final set of exams in high school in most parts of Australia

Iced VoVos: a brand of sweet bickie

jack of: to be jack of something means that you’re sick of it

jumper: sweater

‘ken hell: an expression of annoyance

knackered: very tired, exhausted

lend, having a: making fun of, mocking

Libs: abbreviation of the Liberal Party of Australia, which despite the name, is the conservative party.

lift: elevator

li-lo: a blowup rubber mattress

loo: toilet

lolly: candy. The plural is lollies. Although “losing your lolly” means losing your temper.

mad: In Australia it means crazy; in the United States, angry.

mum: mom

munanga: white person. A word used by Aboriginal people in the Roper area of the Northern Territory.

Pop Rocks: a hard American candy (lolly) made with carbon dioxide bubbles. As it melts in your mouth, it feels like it’s exploding. Very strange stuff.

porkies: lies

poxy: unpleasant, crappy or annoying

pram: stroller

recce: from the military term reconnaissance, meaning to look around, check out thoroughly

ropeable: angry, as in “fit to be tied”

rubber: in Australia means eraser; in the United States, condom

sambo: sandwich

Shire, the: Sutherland Shire, a district of Sydney that’s a long way from the city

skerrick:a very small amount

skink: a small lizard with a long body

slab:a case of two dozen cans or bottles of beer

sloppy joe: a cotton, fleece-lined sweater

sossi: sausage

spag bol:spaghetti bolognese

spinifex:spiky grass that grows in the desert

sticky beak: a person who always sticks their nose into other people’s business

stinger: poisonous jellyfish

stoush: fight, brawl, rumble

ta: thank you

thongs: flip-flops

Tim Tam: a chocolate-filled, chocolate-covered bickie

tracky-dacks: track pants

tucker: food

Uluru: a huge rock formation in central Australia, formerly known as Ayer’s Rock

unco: short for uncoordinated. Someone who’s unco isn’t much chop at sports or juggling. For some unco types, even standing can be a challenge. Your humble author has been known to be unco, though only since infancy.

Violet Crumble: a brand of candy bar made of honeycomb coated with chocolate

wanker: poseur

washer: washcloth

watarah: a shrub or small tree with brilliant red-coloured flowers

wattle: a large shrub or tree with white or yellow flower clusters

willi-willi: dust devil

Winnies: short for Winfield’s, a brand of cigarette

white man place
: city

widdershins: counterclockwise

witchetty grubs: delicious, fat, white, wood-boring grubs