Heads cogs_Shutterstock smallParaphrasing or seeking to explain someone else’s culture is a risky enterprise.

In this article ’14 Aussie Phrases we should all be using’ an American website initially does quite well. I found it interesting to see another culture’s experience of our phrases such as ‘can’t be bothered’, ‘my shout’ and the use of the word ‘keen’. Well, at least all was going well until:

“What a Beaut”: There are so many beautiful people in Australia, they must have just needed a quicker way to say beautiful… after all, they have to say it so often.

 Not sure about you, but I’ve never said, or heard said ‘what a beaut’. ‘What a beauty’ maybe?!   The next phrase explained: “the sus” also doesn’t ring true.

The safest way to ever explore culture is through engaging with people who know and are representatives of that culture. If that’s not possible, the next best step to ensure that at a bare minimum the things you are saying about another culture are a) true and b) verified by direct experience or someone from that culture.

Particularly in a multicultural and highly diverse culture like Australia, cultural representation and exploration needs to be done with great sensitivity and professionalism. Particularly when 25 per cent of people in Australia were born overseas, you can be almost guaranteed there’s a representative of the culture you are talking about in the room to correct you.