Party time – how to socialize in Australia

Once the practicalities of moving to Australia have been organized, immigrants can focus on the social aspects.  While a NAATI translator can help with immigration translations, immigrants need to find their own feet with regards to Australian social customs.


Barbecues, BBQs or Barbies are the typical focus of any gathering inAustralia.  The weather, scenery and general enjoyment of an outdoor lifestyle, mean that cooking outdoors is a perfectly natural activity.  Generally speaking the host will cook and serve the meat and provide salad and breads.  It is common and polite for guests to ask if they should bring anything and this offer may or may not be accepted.  Typical foods served at barbecues includes snag (sausages), chook (chicken) or sangers (sandwiches).  The host may also offer guests a tinny (can of beer).

Bringing a plate

If an invitation asks guests to “bring a plate” it means to bring a plate of food.  Usually this food should be ready to serve, for example sandwiches or cake.  Sometimes the host will actively organize for specific individuals to bring specific foods to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between the types of foods available.

BYOB – Bring your own bottle

Often inAustralia, a party host will provide food but the invitation will say BYOB, which essentially means that guests are responsible for their own drinks.  This is an easy way for the host to ensure that people can have what they want to drink without the host having to deal with the expense and hassle of organizing it.  Some cafes and even restaurants display a BYOB sign, which basically means that guests can bring their own drinks (from off-licences) and will only be charged “corkage”, which is a charge for proving the glasses.  Those who do not drink alcohol can bring soft drinks.

Shouting a round

In Australia, it is usual for people to take turns buying drinks in pubs.  The designated person “shouts a round” for everyone in their group, queues and pays for it.  Those who don’t drink alcohol can sit out this custom, although many teetotallers do choose to partipate.

Having a cuppa

In spite of the heat, Australians enjoy tea and coffee, the drinking of which is referred to as “having a cuppa”.

Needing the bathroom

While Australians do use the terms bathroom and toilet, in many situations, it’s more common to hear the slang terms loo or dunny.

Although Australia does have its own unique slang, which can prove a challenge even for native speakers of English, the fact that they are generally very accommodating to people new to their country makes it very easy for new immigrants to integrate there.

Image “Girl showing party time in laptop” by Stuart Miles from

Helping Santa – giving and receiving gifts in Australia

Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for Australia Post and it is closely followed by other major festivals where people exchange gifts.  Even outside of these times, the Australian postal service is kept busy with gifts being sent for a variety of reasons such as birthdays and weddings.

Australia has a very straightforward system for processing mail items sent to its shores.  There is no distinction made between gifts or items sent for other purposes.  If the declared (or assessed) value is over AUD1000, the items are subject to taxation and if it is less than AUD1000 they are not, unless they are alcohol or tobacco products in which case they are subject to import duty regardless of value.

The other key point to understand is that Australia has very strict (and very strictly enforced) rules on what may and may not be imported.  Some items are banned from import completely whereas others have restricted import.  For many people sending gifts to Australia (or sending goods from home as a precursor to immigration), the most important restrictions relate to food and plant and animal materials.  An exact list of prohibited products can be obtained from the Australian authorities, but as a rule of thumb commercially produced food products are likely to be acceptable, while home-made food is not.  Plant and animal products are likely to be seized (if sent) under all circumstances.

Australia allows most items to be exported (although other countries may have their own rules regarding what may be imported into their territory) but it is forbidden to export anything of significant value to Australia’s cultural or natural heritage unless a permit is arranged.

People who watch daytime TV will be well aware that there are regular attempts made to circumvent these rules and will also be well aware that getting caught attempting to do so can lead to serious trouble.  Honesty really is the best policy, particularly with regard to filling in customs declarations accurately.

In addition to overseeing the sending and receiving of gifts, the Australian customs authorities, also monitor shipments of personal items and household goods sent and received as part of the immigration process.  Essentially they are looking for any items which could pose a threat to Australia’s security or economy, in particularly any plant or animal items (including soil) or home-made food.  The keys to ensuring a successful household move to Australia are to ensure that all items are completely clean (including the packaging) and to make absolutely certain that they are correctly and accurately documented.

It may be worthwhile asking for assistance with moving personal items as part of the immigration translation process.  One of our NAATI translators can help to prepare the appropriate documentation to ensure that your move is as smooth as possible.

Image “Santa Cap” by dream designs from

“Translation” – Not Always the Same Thing


Writing things over to another language can be a funny old game sometimes, for the simple reason that culture often intervenes. If there’s a better reason than the following for using a competent German NAATI translator – as opposed to downloading Google Translate – then we’ve yet to come across it.

First attempts to translate Coca-Cola into Chinese became essential after market researchers discovered that the locals interpreted the name as “bite the wax tadpole”. After much prodigious effort translators chose the word ’kokoukole” meaning “happiness in the mouth” instead.

The General Motors name “Nova” means “it doesn’t go” in Spanish-speaking South America. Hopefully the glue they stuck the badges on with wasn’t made in Germany?

Colorado brewers Coors should have been more careful with their Spanish translations too. Their slogan “turn it loose” became “suffer from diarrhoea”.

KFC walked right into it after their media specialist managed to morph their brand into the Chinese equivalent of “eat your fingers off”.

On a lighter note, Frank Perdue’s translators were probably feeling German English Australia Migration Translation Servicechicken after someone mentioned that they’d translated “it takes a strong man to make a tender chicken” into Spanish as “it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate“.

Please don’t think for a moment that anything similar is possible in the case of our skilled Migration Translators. They’re all highly-educated human beings, and everything is edited twice.

We found the translation blunders on Articles Base. Thanks to Stuart Wilde for the Fox and Chicken.

German Influences in Australia

Australians certainly don’t need our NAATI German-English Translators when it comes to ordering some of their favourite foods. In fact they know exactly what sauerkraut is, and the same is equally true of their favourites mettwurst, blutwurst, leberwurst, and weißwurst.

Germans who first farmed the Barossa Valley had so much influence that at one time their dialect was known as Barossa-Deutsch. Some fragments still remain. When Australians call a 200mm beer glass a butcher, they may not know that it’s a corruption of becher for a cup or mug although it is – and beaker has entered our dictionary as a glass container for mixing liquids in a laboratory.

When today’s inhabitants of the Barossa Valley use the expression “are you coming with” they’re actually harking back to kommst du mit? German English Australia Migration Translation ServiceThis is another excellent example of the durability of the German language.

After you’ve popped by to chat with one of our immigration translations specialists in Sydney, we’ve love to be able to say kommst du mit for a cup of coffee – or even for an Australian pilsener beer in a butcher if that takes your fancy. And that’s just another example of our laid back style. Why don’t you come and join us soon?

With thanks to Culture Concept for the Barossa Vineyard, and the Mercury for the Hobart Café in Tasmania.

The Australian Way of Life

When immigration clients approach us in connection with our NAATI translator service they usually also ask us about Australian living expenses. While it’s easy for us to mention average salaries, this is seldom of much use unless we mention the distribution of average spending too.

When we do so, our clients realise that our outdoor life-style makes a huge difference to how we spend our money. We decided to summarise the main points here.

• We spend 21.95% of disposable inome on rent, which could include mortgage payments or rentals.

German English Australia Translation Service• The next highest amount, believe it or not, is dining out in restaurants at 18.63%, which is not surprising given our fantastic weather.

• Markets comes a close third at 18,32%. This includes all forms of consumption shopping.

• Transport’s the next big-ticket item at 11.48%. This is because we love our big suburban homes in suburbs outside town.

This is followed by a high 10.38% for Utilities, and 4.20% for Clothing and Shoes, with the ubiquitous “Other” (which would include immigration translations) coming in at 9.37%.

In case you wondered, Sports and Leisure accounts for the missing 5.67% (just checking you were concentrating). Australia’s a fun society where we find time to enjoy the great outdoors, and tease each other sometimes too.

If you’re contemplating coming over and require a NAATI translator in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide, why nopt give is a call or drop us an email. We’ll be delighted to assist. The graph we used is courtesy of Numbeo.

“Thousands of Job Visas Threatened”

Prior to 2007, the Immigration Department awarded qualification and work experience points based on inputs from Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) and recognized Professional Bodies. In 2007, it outsourced this activity to a “relevant authority” as appointed by the Workplace Minister, and amended the Migration Act accordingly.

This made little difference to the migration process as far as applicants were concerned except that the forms were a little different. Professional translation of foreign documents continued to be insisted upon. As far as our German NAATI Translators were concerned it was very much business as usual.

Unfortunately one thing was overlooked in Canberra. Nobody remembered that the Workplace Minister had to appoint the TRA as relevant authority before it could commence it task. As a consequence of this oversight, all foreign work visas issued during this period are based on an administratively invalid premise.

German English Australia Translation ServiceWe are inclined to regard this matter as a bureaucratic storm in a teacup. We can’t see the Australian Government taking the knock on the potential 130,000 lawsuits that might follow if it started cancelling visas. All our immigration translations were as always impeccably done too

The news only erupted after a visa applicant successfully overturned a Migration Review Tribunal decision to refuse a visa on the grounds that he’d given false information about his work experience. If general action were being contemplated, surely Workplace Minister Julia Gillard illustrated here would have announced this, when she corrected the blunder back in 2011.

Australia’s Oldest German Settlement

The town of Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. German immigrants known as Old Lutherans arrived there in 1839 to escape religious persecution in Prussia (Hahn was captain of the ship named Zebra they arrived on). They laid their settlement out in Hufendorf style, and were soon well known for their pious customs and zest for hard work – even though the lack of translators in Adelaide made them difficult for locals to understand.

These days, Hahndorf is easily found after a thirty-minute drive along the South Eastern Freeway from Adelaide. Notable attractions include traditional fachwerk half-timbered architecture, and St Michael’s Lutheran Church begun in 1839, and still home to a worshipful congregation.

From time to time the settlement was hit by schisms though. The breakaway St Paul’s Lutheran Church was established in 1846 when pastors Kavel and Fritsche experienced theological differences. German English Translations in AustraliaDuring World War One, the South Australia Government changed Hahndorf’s name to Ambleside. This was corrected in the 1930’s (although the replacement name is still seen in various places).

These days of course German migrants travelling to Australia have an easier time of it. They arrive on modern jet planes and have NAATI Translators to assist them with their documentation. They also no longer need to build half-timbered houses. In fact, Australian architecture is among the most modern in the world. .

Thanks, Wikipedia for the photo and Incidental Nomads for the welcome sign.

The Joys of Restaurant Menus

Translating restaurant menus requires the work of a professional translator. Unfortunately, restaurant owners usually are no big spenders, so when it comes to providing foreign-language versions of their menu to entice an international clientele, they often rely on Google translate or ask their counsin’s counsin’s cousin, who then uses Google translate.

The result is a menu that is really entertaining but doesn’t encourage you to spend money at this place. Another case where a certified translation (even if it not an immigration document!) could have made the world a better (and yummier) place….enjoy! 🙂




“In Coleslaw” – Please

Translating can be edgy business – especially in commerce and marketing. Despite epic and well-known translation blunders such as “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”, professionals (?) around the world still come up with new mix-ups every day. Have a look at this care label on a piece of Chinese clothing:

In ColeslawIf you decide on following these instructions, we recommend a side of mash for best effect. For a different approach, try potato salad instead. The good thing is, we guess, that you can wash your soiled clothes while still at the family BBQ or at KFC.

Or, as a friend’s granny used to say tongue-in-cheek: Grease stains on clothes last much longer if you rub butter into them twice a week.

But all joking aside, inferior translations are bad business. It’s worth spending the extra buck so that you don’t expose your business or yourself to such ridicule. As Australia’s leading immigration translator, we’re here to help.