phrase debunk: “throw a shrimp on the barbie”
we’ve all heard this phrase before. usually said by someone trying to do an australian accent, “throw a shrimp on the barbie” is probably the best way to make someone look as non-australian as possible. there’s a few issues with the sentence, so i’ll break it down and help you guys come up with a phrase that might actually be used.
1. shrimps =/= shrimps
it’s true! shrimps here are very different things from what you would call shrimps in, say, america. we would call those prawns. if your character is a bit fancy, they may refer to them by their specific type; tiger and king are the ones i’ve seen most commonly.
most australian shrimps are way too small to be worth catching, and the only ones we have here are imported from asia. it’s worthwhile noting that prawns and shrimps aren’t the only crustaceans we may eat. moreton bay bugs (not real bugs, obviously) and yabbies are two very australian crustaceans that would probably get you an approving nod from most australians if your aussie character mentioned them casually. yabbying is pretty common if you live around the murray river, so there’s potential to have a character mention they went yabbying there while camping (or something similar).
also, we barbecue a lot of things. chicken, lamb, veggies and fish are all likely to be seen on a bbq. skewers, too, are very big. just throw cut-up pieces of meat and/or veggie onto the skewer and bam! delicious and good finger food.
2. we probably wouldn’t use the word throw
this is pretty minor, but it’s always bugged me. throw just has never seen like the natural word that i would use. you could just say put, or even chuck or toss. throw just seems…wrong? i spoke to a couple of friends about this and we all agreed that it just sounds a bit off. maybe it’s just been used in this phrase for so many years that we’re automatically repulsed by it. who knows?
3. they ain’t called barbies
here is my biggest issue with the sentence. barbie is not what we call them. if you’re inviting someone over, you’d say “hey, wanna come over for a barbecue?” (or however you’d phrase it). don’t use the word cookout either; that’s very american. if you’ve prepared some lovely yabbies on your bbq, then you might ask someone if they want grilled yabbies. you could also say barbecued for this.
in the case of this particular sentence, however, we’re talking about the action of putting the prawns onto the barbecue. you could say barbecue, grill or a third option: the weber. weber is an extremely common brand of barbecues and grills in australia, and my family of three owns two different ones. saying “put it on the weber” sounds very natural to me, and also sounds like you put in effort to add that tiny lil detail of aussie bbq culture.
so our final sentence could be “chuck the prawns on the grill” which sounds way better and more authentic than the original. i hope you guys learnt something from this. go out and make your aussies free of stereotypes!