Un-Stereotypical Aussies


Anglorama nr 3/2006 (35)

Un-Stereotypical Aussies

W powszechnej świadomości utrwalił się wizerunek Australijczyka, który w czasie wolnym hoduje kangury i siłuje się z krokodylami. Nie do końca jest on prawdziwy.

Having lived in five countries, I have met a number of different people from different places. Very few of those people have fulfilled the stereotypes that have come to portray their country.

Few Americans I have met were extremist Republicans who talk only about their civil rights. I have never met an Englishman that said, "Cheerio". And I have never met a French person who wore a horizontally striped shirt and a beret while carrying pastries. With that said, however, it has never stopped me from having a bit of a dig (Australian for making fun) at the stereotypes with a few friends from those countries, and others. All in good fun, I promise.

The stereotypical Australian is bronzed, thin, simple-minded and loves a drink with his or her mates. They wear slouch hats and their days are filled with chasing cattle on horseback, and playing a bit of rugby, cricket or Australian rules football - a game I have never understood, but which many Australians follow.

Sounds beautiful? An ideal always is. These days, the majority of Australians are what we call suburbanites. Most live on the east coast of the country in areas that are heavily populated, few have ever chased cattle and cork hats went out of fashion about 150 years ago. But it is a great story - and people still believe it.

When I was staying in Tokyo, an American asked me if I had a pet kangaroo. He had heard that kangaroos could be bought in pet shops, which I am disappointed to say is far from the truth. Unlike the playful characters on children's television shows, kangaroos are not domesticated. And there is no way I would risk a kick to the stomach from those powerful legs while trying to stroke its head.

Another time, I was asked if any of the male members of my family had wrestled a crocodile. Of course, thanks to the image of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, who is a regular television personality, and the 1980s Crocodile Dundee movies featuring Paul Hogan, many people believe that Australian boys only become men by fighting one of the strongest animals in the country. I have not yet met such a man. Such antics require very special skills, although maybe more guts than brains.

Last but not least, people believe that due to Australia's small population (well, small in comparison with most countries in Asia and many in Europe), everybody knows everybody. They ask whether you know that famous singer... what was her name…Kylie Minogue, or perhaps that actor… Heath Ledger.

And that brings me to the final point, there is one factor in the stereotype that is true. The Australians love to have fun, and a bit of a joke will always be appreciated. So if you ask any of these questions, an Aussie will probably say: „Yes - Ledger's my cousin's aunt's son, my pet kangaroo is called Skippy and I've got a necklace of crocodile teeth at home, I'll bring it by the pub next time." But it's all in good fun!

Australian Outback
Dry, dusty and desert - welcome to the Australian outback. There is lots of land in Australia. The country is almost as big as the United States, and even though it is the driest continent, people live here. Under the hot sun, people live, work and play. Sometimes the temperature can reach 45 degrees Celsius. Australia is famous for its dry and dusty land, even though many people now live near the coast in big cities. Many years ago, a lot of people lived in the outback. They rode horses to travel, kept cattle to eat and sell, and worked on farms. These days, most people live in the cities where it is easier to find work, study and go shopping.
Regina Campbell

fulfill - odpowiadać (np. warunkom)
to portray - ukazywać
civil rights - prawa obywatelskie
striped - w paski, prążkowany
pastry - pieczywo
simple-minded - prostolinijny
mate - kumpel
slouch hat - kapelusz z opuszczonym rondem
to chase cattle - przeganiać bydło
suburbanites - mieszkańcy przedmieść
to go out of fashion - wyjść z mody
playful - rozbrykany
domesticated - udomowiony
to stroke - głaskać
to wrestle - uprawiać zapasy
antics - wybryki
more guts than brains - więcej odwagi niż myślenia
factor - czynnik
necklace - naszyjnik
outback - słabo zaludnione tereny Australii
dusty - zakurzony
desert - pustynny
coast - wybrzeże

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