Learn Australian English in this expression episode of The Aussie English Podcast where I teach you to use the expression NOT WORTH A ZACK.
AE 370 – Expression: Not Worth A Zack
Man. Let’s just get this started. How is it going, guys? I… I have just got home and I have had way too much coffee, but I thought you know what it is time to do this week’s podcast episode. So, I just got on Facebook Live. I put up all the podcast… freaking hell! I’ve been saying podcasts instead of postcards for the last hour.
So, anyway. Ok. This is what this is an episode that’s going to be full of bloopers. I have that feeling already. I have that feeling already. So, I got back, my parents just dropped me off. My folks dropped me off. (I) spent the weekend down at their place… the weekend, I guess, the week*. It’s only Saturday now. But, I have just gotten back to Melbourne. So, I’m back in my house.
I got five postcards from you amazing listeners. So, thank you so much to all of you guys. I did a Facebook Live lesson and I put them on the wall. So, they are now up behind me. Next time on live videos hopefully you can spot the postcards that you sent me. Thank you so much guys.
Send your postcards to: PO Box 597 Ocean Grove, 3226, Victoria, Australia
I have a few more announcements for you guys. I have a few more announcements.
First and foremost, I’m an uncle. I am an uncle. So, I became an uncle on Wednesday. My sister has had a beautiful baby girl. The baby was in breech. So, that means that it wasn’t sitting the right way around with its head facing down inside of my sister’s stomach to be born properly by a natural birth. So, instead of a natural birth my sister had to have a Caesarean, what we call a C-section, Cesarean section, where she was opened up, I guess, booked in, cut open, and they pull the baby out, and they sew back up, and she doesn’t have to go through labour.
Anyway, everything went amazingly well, and I am now the proud uncle of a beautiful baby girl named Isabel Anne Smissen. So, welcome to the world Isabel, and congratulations to my sister Annika and her partner Rory, as well as my parents. They are incredibly stoked. They are grandparents for the first time. They couldn’t stop looking at this beautiful little baby. And it kind of blew my mind quite a bit. So, it‘s ruffled my feathers a little bit, and made me a little envious and looking forward to the day in the near or far future when I have children as well. But it‘s a long road I’m sure before that happens for me, but we’ll see. We’ll see. I can imagine it can be life-changing. So, that’s the first announcement. I’m an uncle.
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Let’s get into it though, guys. Today’s expression is “not worth as zack”, for something to “not be worth as zack”. Ok?
So, before we get into that one though, as usual, I’ve got a joke for you guys. I’ve got a joke. It’s a little bit crass, but it’s not too bad. It’s not too bad. And it’s a good joke, I think, because it kind of illustrates Australian humour. It’ll give you a sense of how we often take the mickey out of ourselves. And to take the mickey out of something or someone is to poke fun at someone or something, to make fun of. So, to make light of something, to joke about something. So, I like taking the mickey, like Mickey Mouse, mickey, I like taking the mickey out of myself, and Australians love taking the mickey out of themselves.
Ok, so the joke. Why wasn’t Jesus born in Australia? Why wasn’t Jesus born in Australia? Because nobody could find three wise men or a virgin. Do you get it, guys? No one could find three wise men or a virgin. So, it’s making fun of Australians saying that none of us are smart and that none of us are virgins. OK? So, that’s today’s joke. Why wasn’t Jesus born in Australia? Because no one could find three wise men or a virgin.
So, today’s expression, guys, is not worth as zack, for something to not be worth a zack. This one was suggested by Karina. So, good job Karina. She suggested this in The Aussie English Virtual Classroom, guys. It’s the Facebook group that you can come in and interact with everyone. There’s daily videos that people upload to practice their English. And on Mondays, I get you guys to suggest expressions and then vote on these expressions for me to do the weekend’s podcast on. So, Karina, good job, mate. To not be worth zack, not worth zack.
So, as usual, let’s go through the words in this expression.
“Not“. I’m sure all of you guys are going to know the word “not”, n-o-t. This is a particle that negates an auxiliary verb. Ok? So, a helping verb. I am not going there. I am not going there. I would not go there. I wouldn’t go there. So, it negates it. I am going. I’m not going. I would go. I wouldn’t go. So, that’s “not”.
“Worth“. for something to be worth something worth. Means the equivalent in value to the sum or item specified. Ok? So, that’s a complicated way of saying, the value of something. Ok? So, my computer is worth seven dollars. My word is worth… it’s invaluable. It’s worth a lot. Ok? So, my car’s worth ten thousand dollars. It’s the value of something.
“A zack“, “a zack”. So, this was an interesting one. I had to look this up, because, to be honest, I have never used this expression. I’ve heard it, but I’ve never used it. So, “a zack”, it turns out, is slang for a sixpence or what was called a six penny. So, this is back when we use the imperial system for money in Australia. So, some of you might know, some of you may not know, our money originally came from Britain. So, Australia’s a Britain colony. We were colonised by the British back in 1770, I believe, by Captain Cook. And as a result, the money and the measurements that were used in Australia were the imperial system. Ok? So, anyway, we had pounds, we had shillings, and we had pennies, and a sixpence, which was about five cents, was nicknamed “a zack”. I don’t know why, but it was nicknamed “a zack”. So, if something wasn’t worth a zack, it wasn’t worth very much. It wasn’t worth five cents. It wasn’t worth sixpence. It wasn’t worth a six penny in the imperial monetary system.
So, let’s define the expression, guys. So, if something isn’t worth a zack, it’s not worth zack, it’s worthless, it’s not worth any, or we could say, it’s worth bugger all. So, that’s an Australian expression, to be worth bugger all. And that just means it’s not worth anything, it’s worthless.
So, we’ve sort of gone over the origin of the expression “a zack”. It’s from the 1700s. And when I looked this up, the usage of the term “zack” for a slang term for a sixpence actually dropped off in the 1800s, guys. So, this is a really old slang term, but obviously it’s been maintained in the expression “to not be worth a zack”. And so, it’s funny how the meaning of “zack” has kind of disappeared and people have forgotten it, despite continuing to potentially use the expression “not be worth a zack“. So, yeah, not worth a zack.
Let’s go through some examples as usual, guys, of how to use the expression “to not be worth a zack”.
So, imagine you’ve got a mate who makes a promise. He gives you his word that he’s going to do something. I promise I’ll do this. I give you my word I’ll do it. But then he breaks his promise or he goes back on his word. So, you could say his word isn’t worth a zack. His promises aren’t worth a zack. They’re worthless. They’re worth bugger all.
Example number two. So, you want to buy a house, and you go somewhere and they say… you know, you go to an auction, and the auction gets up to a really ridiculous price, and the house is a real run down old house that’s not worth much at all. It looks atrocious. It looks awful. But they want a million dollars for this house. You could say, yeah, we want it, but to be honest, it‘s not worth it a zack. It‘s not worth a zack. This house is so run down and old it‘s not worth it a zack, let alone worth the million dollars that you would like for this house. It‘s not worth a zack.
The third example is, imagine you want to get some wine. Ok? I’m a fan of red wine, maybe like white wine, but you go to a bottle-o ago by some booze, to get some grog, so some alcoholic drinks, some alcoholic beverages. You want to get some wine. So, you go there and you say, I‘m after some Australian wine. I want some Penfolds. Penfolds is an amazing Australian brand of red wine. I think it tends to be just red wine, and it’s from the 1840s. They were established in the 1840s. So, the company’s something like 170 years old. But these guys are from the Barossa Valley in South Australia, and they would be Australia’s most famous brand of red wine. But say you’re after some Penfolds, and the place doesn’t have any or the vintages of Penfolds that it has, and “vintage” as in the year that that bottle of wine or that wine was bottled, say they’ve got the wrong one or they don’t have Penfolds at all, you could say, well, I don’t want any other wine but Penfolds from the Barossa Valley. Anything else isn’t worth a zack. Or maybe it’s the vintages that they have, and they’re atrocious, awful, cheap vintages that you hate. You could say, these ones aren’t worth zack. They’re not worth five cents. They’re worthless. They’re worth bugger all.
Alright, guys. Hopefully, you understand the expression “to not be worth a zack“. And I definitely challenge you guys to go out there and use this expression with some Australians, and see if they know it. You might find some Aussies who know this expression and who probably love hearing you say it, you know? It‘ll put a smile on their face. It’ll make them grin.
So, as usual guys, let’s go through a listen and repeat exercise where you guys get to practice your pronunciation. Try and say things exactly as I say them to work on your Australian pronunciation to get that Aussie accent happening. Let’s do it, guys. So, listen and repeat after me.
Listen & Repeat:
Not worth a zack.
Not worth a zack.
Not worth a zack.
Not worth a zack.
Not worth a zack.
I’m not worth a zack.
She’s not worth a zack.
He’s not worth a zack.
You’re not worth a zack.
We’re not worth a zack.
They’re not worth a zack.
It’s not worth a zack.
That’s it guys. Good job. And remember to sign up to The Aussie English Classroom if you want more in-depth exercises like this to practice your Aussie pronunciation and learn to speak Australian English just like me.
So, let’s go through an Australian fact, guys, and this ties in with “a zack”, so a sixpence or a six penny from the 1700s and 1800s. So, the Aussie fact for today is that Australia’s British colony obviously used the imperial system. So, we used pounds, shillings, and pence for our money. We used feet and inches and miles for measuring length or distances. And we used things like ounces for measuring the weight of something. Ok? So, this was like Americans use today, at least, in terms of feet, inches, miles, and ounces. They use dollars for their money, obviously. But yeah, we use this, and we used it up until the 14th of February 1966. So, my parents lived through a time where there were pounds, shillings, pence, feet, inches, miles, and ounces used as a measurement system in Australia. And in the 1960s, they switched the currency and these measurements from the imperial system to the metric system, so a decimal system, where the measurements are all relative to the number 10.
And so, the interesting thing here is that when they wanted to convert these they had to do a massive ad campaign, a massive ad campaign on TV, on the radio, to inform everyone that on the 14th of February 1966 the money was going to change over, that everything was going to change over. And so, for a period of time, and I was talking to my mum about this earlier this week, you could pay for things with pounds, shillings, and pence as well as dollars and cents. So, both currencies were being used at the same time in Australia for a period whilst this conversion was taking place. Anyway, there’s a really interesting jingle. So, the song from the ad, “a jingle” we call it. That catchy tune that are quite often really short, you know, 30 seconds. It’s used in this ad. I’m going to play it after this so that you can have a quick listen to the start of this jingle, and I‘ll also link the ad so that you can go and check it out. Anyway, that’s today’s fact. The currency changed over on the 14th of February 1966 from pounds, shillings, and pence to dollars and cents.
In come the dollars, in come the cents, to replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence. Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix on the 14th of Feburary 1966.
Who are you?
I’m Dollar Bill, and I’ve come to tell everyone that decimal currency will be here from the 14th of February 1966.
What is decimal currency?
Decimal currency is simply a money system worked out in multiples of 10. The base unit is a dollar made up of 100 cents.
Anyway, guys, a few little announcements. Make sure you sign up for The Aussie English Classroom, guys, if you want all the bonus content for today’s episode. So, I’m redoing the website at the moment. It might look a little rough, but I’m working on it. And the new classroom, the reason that I’m redesigning the website is so that you can now do these all online. You can consume the material there. You get bonus exercises. You get vocab lists for every episode with all the tricky vocab defined as well as some writing exercises. You get the listening comprehension exercise. You get the phrasal verb substitution exercise to speak out loud and practice using phrases verbs in place of their synonyms, so different kinds of verbs. This is a great exercise to practice your pronunciation as well as expand your vocab and you’re speaking out loud. So, I think it’s a really good way of hitting all of these goals at once. Ok? After that we have an Aussie slang exercise where you learn Aussie slang and you can write it out in sentences. So, it’s a writing exercise as well. There’s a pronunciation exercise after that to practice a certain aspect of Aussie pronunciation. So, this exercise is specifically for things like a consonant sound or a vowel sound, something tricky that we can hone in on that we can focus on and really nail one week at a time, we change and up each week. After that is the connected speech, rhythm, or intonation exercise where we focus on an aspect of how Aussies speak whether it’s connected speech, how they connect the words, the rhythm that they speak with, or the intonation that they use at the ends of sentences. So, you’ll notice that I went the ends of sentences. My voice went up. And then the very last one is a little grammar exercise, and it’s a listen and repeat exercise as well, or it’s a written exercise.
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