Friday, April 27, 2007

‘G'day mate, how are ya?’

‘Good thanks mate! How are you?’

When you meet one of your friends, you can greet them either with ‘Good morning!’ or ‘Hello!’ or ‘Hi!’ or… – as the Aussies would say – ‘G'day mate!’ (usually pronounced /gə’dei/). This contraction of the Standard English ‘Good day!’ is particularly old-fashioned in British and American English and might sound a bit odd to you, though it is well-established and widespread in Australia (and New Zealand too). Meaning ‘Hello friend!’, this expression is part of slang language but can be perfectly used with any stranger.

Originally, the word ‘
mate’ referred to men (and was exclusively used by and between them). Losing gradually its root meaning, more and more women use it now to make reference to any men or women. It is worth mentioning that this word is closely linked to the concept of ‘mateship’, which “developed in the Australian goldfields, in the mines and the wheat and sheep farms of inland Australia”.[1]

During the industrialisation period of the country, work conditions were mostly bad, so that families and friends felt the need to help each other by sharing what they had, emotionally as well as materially speaking. In this context, the concept of mateship acquired a growing importance and had a certain impact on the
cohesion of all the ‘mates’. While ‘G'day mate’ involved at first various ideas of mutual respect, egalitarianism, solidarity against oppressive authority, equality, loyalty and friendship, it has now lost these core meanings to become a very common and traditional greeting.

Stéphanie, Vanessa & Larry


No comments: