Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton.
It’s been a strange realisation, whilst reading this book, to become aware of a whole load of vocabulary in the English language which I’ve been up to now totally unaware of. I suppose through the media, my knowledge of North American English is not too bad. But apart from watching the Australian soap Neighbours in my early teens, I haven’t seen many Australian films or series. I used to share a flat at uni with a girl from Australia. Now I’m more aware that she, after having already spent three years living in England, probably had adapted her language so that she would be more easily understood by non-Australians.
Though I do remember one time, she was packing her suitcase for a Christmas flight home to Australia. And she asked me to help her with packing. The next thing on her packing this was “thongs” and she asked me to pick out seven pairs for her! I immediately blushed, believing that she was asking me to help her select which pairs of revealing underwear to take with her! Seeing my discomfort, she started laughing, and explained that thongs in Australian English are like flip flops. So, it wasn’t quite such an intimate request to choose which flip flops to bring… though to this day I still don’t quite understand why she needed seven pairs!?