AE 426 – Expression: Spit the Dummy

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you how to use the expression TO SPIT THE DUMMY like a native English speaker.

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AE 426 – Expression: Spit the Dummy

Spit the Dummy, the segment where we involve you the viewer. Last week, I spent the day with myself at a lack of interest from you guys stumping up and offering a view on the program. We’ve now got Crazy Jane who’s out of Melbourne who’s joined us. That is her Twitter call sign, or whatever you call it. Her real name is Marian Dalton. Depending on what you’ve got to say though, I’ll go with either Marion or Crazy Jane. Welcome to the program. Thanks for your company.

Hi Peter. Thanks for having me. So, what do you want to spit the dummy about? What’s your gripe?

My gripe is the way that the media when they’re interviewing the various politicians about the asylum seeker issue don’t challenge them on the notion that offshore processing is the only way.


Guys, you would laugh so much if you saw me right now. I am currently sitting underneath a rug, because I’m trying to mute the echo in this room as much as possible for this episode of Aussie English. But yeah, I thought I would share that with you. I have a rug on my head and it’s also over a chair, and in this little cubby kind of fortressed space I am currently recording this episode.

So, g’day you mob. I hope you are going well. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English, The Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English. Whether you want to learn to understand Australians or whether you want to speak like an Aussie, this is the podcast for you.

So, today I have a ripper of an episode for you, guys. I try to have a ripper of an episode every single week, but today, I can definitely say that I have one ripper of an episode prepared.

Intro Scene:

So, today’s intro scene, today’s intro scene was from a TV show called The Contrarians, and I found this little clip on YouTube, it’s from Sky News Australia, where they have a segment called Spit the Dummy. Okay? So, it seemed like a good idea to include this segment. So, that a lady has come on to this segment called Spit the Dummy in order to spit the dummy about how the media, when interviewing various politicians about asylum seeker issues, don’t challenge them on their assertion that offshore processing is the only way to deal with asylum seekers.

So, anyway guys we’ll get into that, we’ll get into the expression, and we’ll discuss asylum seekers at the end in today’s Aussie Fact, but there’s a link in the transcript to day for you to go over to the YouTube channel for Sky News Australia and check out the entire clip. So, I recommend that you go and do that.

Don’t forget also guys that you can download the transcript and the MP3 for today’s episode if you would like to study that in your own time, whether it’s on your computer, on your phone, whether you want to print it out and write on it, any of that sort of stuff, you can download it via the website. There will be a link somewhere. You should be able to see it in your podcast app or on the website if you’re using it currently, but you can get those free downloads.

And don’t forget too, that if you would like all the bonus content for today’s episode, to sign up to the Aussie English Classroom. That’s where I form courses from these episodes with lessons, with quizzes, with MP3, exercises, and now videos as well. So, I’m adding to it every week, and if you want to learn Australian English in depth, even faster, I really recommend signing up to the Aussie English Classroom. It’s a one dollar, guys, one dollar for your first month, and it’s what helps me keep the lights on, keep the water coming to the house, and obviously it keeps me in a position to afford rugs to put over my head to record these episodes.

English Joke:

Anyway guys, let’s dive in today’s joke, Aussie joke. Today’s joke. Okay so, how do you put a baby alien to sleep? How do you put a baby alien to sleep? You ‘rocket’. You ‘rocket’.

Alright so, that’s a pun there, guys. That’s a joke. The word ‘rocket’, as in, a shuttle, something that takes off from the planet and goes into outer space. That is what we would expect an alien to be in if they came to earth. We would expect them to be in a rocket. But if you want to put a baby to sleep usually you will ‘rock’ the baby, and this verb means to move from side to side. To gently rock. And so, it’s a pun here guys with the word ‘rocket’, a shuttle, some kind of vehicle for space, and the two words to ‘rock it’, right? ‘Rock it’, as in, rock the thing from side to side.

How do you put a baby alien to sleep? You rocket.


Alright. So, today’s expression, guys, is ‘to spit the dummy’, ‘to spit the dummy’. So, I wonder if you guys have ever heard this expression before. It’s a pretty common one here in Australia. My dad used to use this expression on me all the time as a kid any time I would get upset, he would say that I was spitting the dummy. But we’ll go through the definition for the expression after we describe the words in the expression. Okay.


So, the verb ‘to spit’, the verb ‘to spit’. ‘To spit’ or ‘to spit something’ is to eject something from a mouth. Okay? So, usually, this will be a person, for example, or some kind of animal, with a mouth, and if it spits something out of its mouth, it’s that it has ejected that thing out of its mouth. So, I could spit saliva out of my mouth, you know? A cobra, a snake, could spit venom. And a volcano could spit lava. Okay? So, that’s ‘to spit’.

‘A dummy’. ‘A dummy’ can be several things. ‘A dummy’ can be a model or replica of a human being. So, for instance, if you’re doing CPR on a practice replica of a human, CPR as in you are doing… I can’t remember what that stands for, but you’re trying to resuscitate the person… I think it’s Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. So, you’re trying to breathe air into that person or you’re pushing on the person’s chest to make their heart inflate and deflate, to pump blood around. So, if it’s a model, that’s ‘a dummy’. You’re playing with the dummy person.

But ‘dummy’ can also be an object designed to resemble and serve as a substitute for the real thing, for the usual thing. Okay? So, it’s anything that can be used to substitute something else.

But in the case of, I guess, a baby and this expression, ‘a dummy’ is a pacifier. It is the plastic, the soft plastic, thing that resembles a woman’s nipple, you know? when babies are breastfeeding, they like to suck on the woman’s nipple in order to drink the milk, but a dummy is that soft plastic thing that resembles a nipple that the baby can suck on to stay calm. Okay? That is ‘a dummy’, and Americans call that ‘a pacifier’.

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Expression Definition & Origin:

Alright, guys, so the expression ‘to spit the dummy’. I think this is very Australian, and, okay so, if you use this with Americans or British people they may need an explanation as to what you mean, but it’s very common here in Australia. You’ll see it in the media. You’ll see it on TV.

‘To spit the dummy’ means to behave in a bad-tempered or petulant way. So, to suddenly lose your temper. And it’s often used to infantilise someone, to liken someone to a baby getting upset. So, you have to be careful when you use this, because you’re likening them to being a child getting upset. So, it kind of trivialises the thing, the issue, over which they’re getting upset. So, journos and pollies will often use this expression, journalists and politicians, they’ll use ‘to spit the dummy’ when referring to people they don’t like or other politicians, usually in order to trivialise or infantilise what it is they’re getting upset about, to say it’s childish, okay? ‘To spit the dummy’: to suddenly lose your temper in a petulant kind of way.

So, you’ll also see other expressions similar to this one like ‘a dummy spitter’, and that is someone who spits the dummy. That is ‘a dummy spitter’.

Or ‘a dummy spit’, which is the action of spitting the dummy. The reason for which or that that series of events where you have spat the dummy, that is ‘a dummy spit’.

So, a dummy spitter can spit the dummy, and when they do so, it’s called a dummy spit.

Alright so, the origin of this expression is probably pretty obvious to you guys. If you spit the dummy, it’s obviously a colourful expression that invokes an image of a baby getting upset, so upset that it spit its dummy out of its mouth so it can cry and howl incredibly loudly to get everyone’s attention. So, it makes it a fun way to describe an adult losing his or her temper.


So, as usual guys, let’s go through some examples of how I would use this expression.


So, example number one, imagine that you are literally a baby, you’re a baby, you’re getting upset. Maybe you’ve got gas, maybe you can’t reach a toy, or maybe you want to be fed, or you need a nappy changed. You’re a baby and you’re getting upset. If you suddenly lose your temper and get upset and start to cry, it’s that you’re spitting the dummy. You could be doing this literally where you have a dummy in your mouth, and you have to spit that dummy out, spit it out of your mouth in order to cry. So, you’re literally spitting the dummy. But if you don’t have the dummy in your mouth, it’s figurative. You’re getting upset. You’re spitting the dummy. Okay? And if you do this quite often, your parents might consider you a dummy spitter, and they might ask, “What was the reason that he spat the dummy? What was the dummy spit over? What was the reason for it?”.


Example number two. Okay, imagine that you are a lawyer. You’re a woman working in a law firm. So, you’re vying for a new job. You want a new position at this law firm. There’s a promotion coming up or something like that, it’s available. But there’s only a single position and there’s many different lawyers going for this spot. They’re all competing. If you don’t get this promotion or this position, but you think that you easily were the best candidate and you should have definitely beat everyone else, you might get upset and you might get angry, and if you do this in a bit of a childish manner, you’ve spat the dummy. You’ve spat the dummy because you didn’t get the job. So, you’re acting like a bit of a child. Your boss might get annoyed. He might say, “I think you’re spitting the dummy a bit, you know? You’re getting upset. You’re being a bit childish. You’re spitting the dummy.”. He might say too, “There’s no need to spit the dummy. Don’t be a dummy spitter!”.


Alright example number three, guys. Imagine that you are a kid opening your presents on Christmas Day. So, it’s Chrissie and you’re opening your prezzies. Some good Aussie slang for you there, guys. ‘Chrissy’ and ‘prezzies’. And you’re really hoping for a new bike. So, you’re hoping that Santa has brought you a new bike. He’s wrapped it up in some paper, he’s put it under the Christmas tree, and you’re opening it on Christmas Day, but you find out it’s not a bike. So, you lose your temper, because you didn’t get what you wanted from Santa or from your parents. So, if you spit the dummy, your parents might say to you, “Don’t be so selfish. Don’t be ungrateful. Don’t overreact.”. They’ll say, “Don’t spit the dummy! You might get a bike for your birthday, but if he keeps spitting the dummy like this, you definitely won’t. And Santa doesn’t bring good gifts to kids who spit the dummy. (There’s) No reason to spit the dummy.”.

All right guys good job. So, by now, I hope you understand the expression ‘to spit the dummy’. It’s Australian slang, and remember that it means to behave in a bad-tempered or petulant way, so kind of childish, or suddenly losing your temper, alright? And remember that if you use this on someone it is somewhat infantilising, okay? It makes them seem like they’re being a child.

So, as usual, let’s go through the listen and repeat exercise, guys, and then we’ll go through the Aussie Fact. So, listen and repeat exercise guys is where you can practice your pronunciation. So, find somewhere quiet, away from everyone, and listen and repeat after me. Try and practice your Aussie English pronunciation. Okay, so listen and repeat. Let’s go.

Listen & Repeat:

To spit
To spit the
To spit the dummy x 5

Now let’s conjugate the phrase ‘to be going to spit the dummy’ through all the different pronouns, and focus on the pronunciation and connected speech that I use here, guys, okay? Let’s go!

I’m going to spit the dummy
You’re going to spit the dummy
He’s going to spit the dummy
She’s going to spit the dummy
We’re going to spit the dummy
They’re going to spit the dummy
It’s going to spit that dummy

Great job, guys. Well done. Remember that if you would like to learn how to use the connected speech and other aspects of pronunciation from today’s listen and repeat exercise, then sign up to the Aussie English Classroom. There’s some cool stuff happening with muted consonants and contractions of “going to” becoming “gonna”. So, if you enroll, you’ll see the video that I will create showing you step by step how to pronounce all of these things like a native, and each video at the moment is about 10 minutes long. So, they’re really, really helpful.

Aussie Fact:

Anyway guys, the Aussie Fact for today. The Aussie Fact was about asylum seekers, which they were talking about in the intro scene to today’s episode. So, this is a bit of a contentious issue in Australia. There’s a lot of heated debate and discussion about this by politicians, by the public, in the media. And so, I thought it would be something cool to talk about to give you some insight into Australia, okay, and why we talk about these things.

So, what’s the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker? Let’s start with that.

A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war persecution or natural disaster.

An asylum seeker is a refugee who is seeking asylum in another country, and in order to be successful, they have to show the reason they were forced from the country was due to reasons such as race, religion, nationality, or political opinions. So, this is according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Australia actually accepts and settles quite a few refugees. We’re in the top three countries in the world. The US accepted and settled about 100,000 last year, Canada’s accepted almost 50,000, and Australia was close to 30,000 people. So, on a per capita basis too, as a percentage of its small population, Australia actually settles more refugees than any other country in the world. That shocked me. I didn’t realise that when I was researching this.

So, refugees brought in by the government on its own terms, the support for them is second to none. They receive some of the best support in the world with regards to health care, counselling, education, and financial aid in Australia.

So, what’s the problem? Every year thousands of people try to enter Australia illegally, and many of these people do so via boat through places like Indonesia. The boats are often incredibly old or dodgy, and sometimes they’re only meant to make it one way in order to prevent being forced to travel back.

These people are smuggled. So, they’re smuggled by organised criminal gangs who make exorbitant amounts of money through the fees that they charge these poor refugees for their trip to places like Australia with no necessary promise of actually arriving here, let alone being able to stay here. This is known as human smuggling or human trafficking.

The Howard Government, which was the government in Australia in the mid-to-late 90s and early 2000s, had a strict set of border protection policies, which were dismantled by the following government, The Rudd Government, after they came to power in the early 2000s. As a result of this, 51,000 illegal maritime arrivals occurred, which included about 8,500 children, and out of this 51,000 people, about 1,200, so 1,200, died at sea, hundreds of which were children. So, there was about a 1 in 50 chance that you would die on the trip across the ocean in this time if you were an asylum seeker coming by boat.

So, due to the outcry from the public, when the Conservative Liberal government took power again in, I think, it was about 2013, they brought through some much stricter border protection policies, and this was called Operation Sovereign Borders. So, this included military ocean patrols that turn back any boat that is discovered coming to Australia in the ocean between, usually between Indonesia and Australia, as well as offshore processing for those who do arrive in Australia. And that means that even if they get here, their application for asylum is processed outside of Australia on small neighbouring islands including places like Christmas Island, Manus Island, and Nauru Island.

So, the idea with these policies was to stop people dying at sea, to stop people entering Australia illegally, and to sort of show that if you wanted to come to Australia you couldn’t jump the queue. You couldn’t be a queue jumper. You had to do so by legal means like all of the other refugees and immigrants coming to Australia. So, it was meant to show that you could not successfully get to Australia by boat, and even if you did get here, you would be processed offshore and settled in a country other than Australia. And the idea here too would be that families going through this process would pass the word on to other people in their home countries and eventually criminal gangs would stop having people to smuggle and it would all fall apart. Okay? So, that was the basic idea with how the current government has set up their border policies.

So, offshore processing, let’s chat a bit about that. This has been incredibly controversial as many people in these facilities, on offshore islands, have been there for years now. They don’t know when they’re going to leave, and they don’t know if or when they’re going to be accepted into a country. They’re living in slum-like conditions in foreign countries where the local people often don’t want them there, and they may experience racism, and they are also suffering from mental and physical health issues, and a lot of them have been self-harming. And the most disturbing part about this is the fact that a lot of children in these places as well and are self-harming.

So, that’s the controversy, guys. That’s the issue around asylum seekers in Australia. I don’t know what the answer is, but my thoughts are that I’m not opposed to immigration. Far from it. Obviously, I’m teaching English to foreigners hoping to come to Australia or who already live here. My family immigrated here from England. They weren’t here originally, obviously, we’re not aboriginals, but with the original group of colonisers who came to Australia, we were not in that group of people. But I think in order to be fair to those past immigrants who went through the legal process of immigration and coming to Australia, as well as those going through it now and those who will go through it in the future, Australia needs to be tough on queue jumpers, people trying to sneak in fast and jump over everyone else in the queue.

So, we also need to be able to control our borders too for the sake of security. We need to know who is coming into the country, why they’re coming in, and whether the reason for which they’re coming in is just.

However, I do agree that the current set up with the offshore processing is really screwed up and that, although, no lives are being lost at sea, at least reportedly by the government, it’s not the greatest set up, and offshore treatment of asylum seekers is incredibly cruel and brutal, and needs to be rethought.

Anyway guys, that’s enough for me to day, but I would love to know from you, what do you think about the asylum seeker issue in Australia? Is it too strict or is it appropriate? Let me know in a comment on the website or on Facebook.

And until next time, guys, I hope you have an amazing week. Chat soon. See ya!

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