Following the arrival of thousands of US marines in the Top End, Aussie soldiers have been warned not to use too many colloquialisms.
Air Force Group Captain Stewart Dowrie told Ten Daily the use of slang could result in a communication breakdown, which could prove fatal when out in the field.
“We have lost-in-translation moments more than you would realise,” Group Capt Dowrie said.
“The time to figure that out is not on the battlefield when the bullets are flying.”
Over the past fortnight, 1700 US troops have arrived in Darwin as part of a joint training rotation, with that number expected to grow to 2500.
During the combined training sessions, Australian and US troops will practise high-end war fighting and disaster response activities.
Group Capt Dowrie explained a phrase or saying that Australians may not give a second thought about could cause major confusion for someone from another country.
“The danger in the Australia-US relationship is that we actually assume we mean the same thing,” Group Capt Dowrie said.
“In military training scenarios we use very prescriptive means of communication.”
He used the phrase “lucked out” as an example, saying for some people it means you get lucky, while others interpret it as the opposite.
“So you start using colloquialisms and, all of a sudden, you have complete misunderstandings about whether something is going to happen,” he said.
The results of a study released by language app Babbel last year proved just how confusing Aussie slang could be to others.
The app polled people from the US, the UK, Canada, France, Sweden, Germany, Spain, the Philippines, Poland and Russia, seeking their interpretations of classic Australian slang.
Respondents deciphered the easy stuff, like “g’day”, but other words and phrases left them baffled and perhaps even a little frightened.
Some of the tougher phrases included:
SHE’LL BE RIGHT
UK’s guess: “The wife is always correct”
Russia’s guess: “She will be back in a minute”
Actual meaning: Everything will be fine
FLAT OUT LIKE A LIZARD DRINKING
US: “Absolutely no idea”
France: “To have a flat tyre”
Germany: “Spilling drinks everywhere”
Actual meaning: To be very busy
CARRY ON LIKE A PORK CHOP
UK: “A fat person trying to finish a task”
US: “To talk excessively”
Actual meaning: To act in an overly dramatic manner
YOU HUM DINGER
Sweden: “You fool”
Philippines: “You’re boring”
Poland: “You smell bad”
Actual meaning: A remarkable person or thing
SHE’S A BLOODY RIPPER
France: “She just wants your money”
US: “A big storm”
Actual meaning: Something awesome
CRACK THE SH*TS
US: “To get nervous”
Germany: “To clear out quickly”
Actual meaning: To get angry or annoyed.