Greetings (Small Talk) in Australian English

In Australian English, the question "Did you have a good weekend?" is often approached as a ritual greeting that is common on Mondays and typically elicits simple information without extensive details.

Béal (1992, pp. 28-31) revealed various "rules of thumb" that are often followed when carrying out this greeting behavior among Australian English speakers.

  • Be optimistic, but not overly excited.

A: How was your weekend?
B: Great.
A: The wedding?
B: A lot of fun.

  • Refer to activities that are common during the weekend.

A: I went to that… lodge.

  • Be factual rather than emotional.

A: How was your weekend?
B: 'twas good, nice and quiet. In fact, I did nothing. We went to a party last night, did nothing on Friday night, all day Saturday, spent most of the day in bed, watched telly [TV] Saturday night, nothing yesterday. Then we went to a party last night, which I could have done without.

  • Establish common ground with the hearer.

A: Did you go to Port Fairy?
B: Yes, I did!
A: Did you? Did you enjoy it?
B: Yeah.

  • Be considerate in your conversational approach.
    • Listen intently and do not interrupt.
    • Ask questions to show interest in your conversation partner.

Below is an excerpt from a naturalistic dialogue between Australian English speakers:

         Woman: Did you have a pleasant weekend?
         Man: I did. What about you?
         Woman: I did too.
         Man: What did you do?
         Woman: We went to a birthday dinner on Saturday and a barbecue on Sunday.
         Man: Food food food…
         Woman: Yes, we ate our way through most of the weekend.




Béal, C. (1992). Did you have a good weekend? Or why is there no such thing as a simple question in cross-cultural encounters? Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 15, 23-52.


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