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Monday 24 January 2011

21st century Australians - phrases and symbols that define us

I dunno about you but I love research reports.

Call me a nerd but anything that offers a snapshot of our society as it is today excites me.

A new report from McCrindle Research shows the top 5 “Best regarded Aussie words by Australians" are:
1. Mate
2. G’day
3. Arvo
4. Tucker
5. Snags

And the “Top 5 most uncomfortable Aussie words" are:

1. Cobber
2. Sheila
3. Strewth
4. Dunny
5. Crikey

Australia has many phrases and symbols and icons that define us as a nation. But which of these actually resonate with Aussies?

In this new study from McCrindle Research, Australians spoke about which flags, symbols and language they are proud of, and which have fallen from grace. “Mate” and “arvo” (love this word - the former, not so much) came up trumps, with 65.6% of respondents indicating they were extremely/very proud of "mate".

Not surprisingly “g’day” came in as second most popular (60.7% extremely/very proud of the word) followed by “arvo”, “tucker” and “snags”.

Of all Australian terms, “arvo” is the most used by Australians (73.2% use this term) followed by “g’day” (71.1%).

Mark McCrindle, Social Researcher and Director, McCrindle Research, said, “Our unique language is still a strong part of our national brand. From our colourful language to our unique humour, the Aussie lexicon is one of fun. Only in Australia is a redhead called “Bluey”, and a stranger is called “mate.””

However there is some well recognised local slang that Australians feel uncomfortable using. The top 5 words which Autralians hesitate to use, are “Cobber”, “Sheila”, “Strewth”, “Dunny” and Crikey”.

We have affection for iconic Aussie phrases with “No worries” a clear winner (73.7%extremely/very proud), followed by “G’day mate“ (71%) and “She’ll be right” (56.7%).

Stat overload yet? What about the top 5 best regarded Aussie phrases:

1. No worries
2. G’day mate
3. She’ll be right
4. Too easy
5. Fair dinkum

The top 5 “too ocker” Aussie phrases are:
1. Not within coo-ee
2. Woop woop
3. Dinky-di
4. Stone the crows
5. You beauty

Isn't Alf from TV show Home & Away the only one who still says "Stone the Crows?"

The most suprising stat from this report that only 13% of those surveyed use the word “woop-woop” (about 80% seem to use it on Facebook), while the ubiquitous chant “Aussie aussie aussie – oi oi oi” split Australians, but overall was rated more positively (45.5% proud) than negatively (37.5% uncomfortable). Me? About 95% uncomfy when I hear it now...

McCrindle said, “As Australians we love our iconic phrases and particularly those that communicate our down-to-earth attitude and community values. From the relaxed “no worries” to the generous “too easy”, and anything ending in “mate”, our favoured phrases radiate warmth.”

“However there is a self consciousness and even a cringe factor which sets in with words like ‘cobber’, ‘sheila’ and 'stone the crows’. We have affection for our quirky language but this is balanced with a 21st Century sophistication,” continued McCrindle.

And the BEST news of all? Australians are pushing back on the Americanization of spelling. Really? So, some Aussie are still deliberately making spelling mistakes?

According to the report, less than 1 in 20 Australians (4.5%) embrace American standard spelling (color, organize, center etc) with almost 4 in 5 Australians (79%) strongly or significantly opposed to the trend. Probably all the tired, weary sub-editors and journos.

And lastly - our flag. We love the flag (79% of Australians are extremely or very proud of the Australian flag) and the “Australian Made” symbol (67.1% very/extremely proud) but have mixed views on the Southern Cross symbol. Both the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Boxing Kangaroo had a larger proportion of Australians who were proud of them, while 1 in 4 Australians (23%) were “slightly” or “very” uncomfortable in the use of the Southern Cross.

McCrindle said, “Australians have always been proud of their nation, but in an understated, assumed-not expressed manner. Of recent years this patriotism has been more visible, particularly seen through a fond embrace of the Australian flag.”

“Yet it is not surprising that in this land of the “fair go” symbols which articulate exclusivism rather than belonging decline in popularity. The Eureka Flag has long been viewed this way, being joined more recently by the Southern Cross,” continued McCrindle.

Our Icons in order of “most proud”
1. Australian flag
2. Australian Made
3. Australian Aboriginal Flag
4. Boxing Kangaroo
5. Southern Cross
6. Eureka Flag

So there you have it - happy Oz-traylia day, cobbers!

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