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eh

Expressing inquiry or surprise, or inviting assent. Usually the latter in Queensland!: Weather on the Gold Coast is 'Great one day, Perfect the next, eh!' Also, ay.

Editor's comments: This word is known is linguistics as a "tag", that is, a small word or phrase that turns a statement into a question. It is similar in function to "isn't it". Thus "Pretty good, eh?" is tantamount to saying "It's pretty good, isn't it?". In the course of conversation the tag "eh" is often used merely to check that the person you are talking to is listening and following what you are saying. A mere prefunctory "Yeah" is all that is required in response. Thus the questioning force of "eh" is reduced. This usage has led to the situation in some speech communities where the questioning element has virtually disappeared and "eh" is used after almost every statement. Such as - "I was goin' down the shops, eh? And I ran into Johnno eh? Hadn't seen him for weeks, eh?" - where a positive response is always assumed and no verbalisation of assent is necessary.

Contributor's comments: I'm a Brisbanite and always believed this to be a characteristic of people from NQ.

Contributor's comments: Used habitually in Nth Queensland.

Contributor's comments: Eh, as in "Pretty hot day, eh?" with a down inflection (or more rarely an up inflection) was common in Dubbo NSW when I was growing up there and to my knowledge still is throughout western NSW. I still use it frequently, though I've lived in Sydney for nearly 20 years. I've never lived in Queensland and was surprised when I came to Sydney to hear it used to caricature Queenslanders' speech.

Contributor's comments: Spent a year in Brisbane. One guy up there in particular was so bad every sentence finished with 'eh'. I went home to NSW and my mate laughed at how much I used it. I must have picked it up temporarily.

Contributor's comments: I always regarded "eh" as a Qld sentence-termination device, with its severity increasing the further north one went. I noticed its flatness in contrast with the way "eh?" was used as a question at the end of a sentence in my 1960s-70s childhood in Riverina NSW. Also noticed that my cousins in northern Victoria used the flat "eh" in a similar way to the Queensland wording. There may have been a family influence here as there were strong Vic-Qld links in my family over several generations. See "but" for a Sydney contrast.

Contributor's comments: [Alice Springs informant] Do you agree: "It's a fine day eh?"

Contributor's comments: A filler in a conversation: "We went down ay and saw the cousins ay and they were going too ay...waddayarecon ay."

Contributor's comments: To my ear (as a Victorian living in Qld for many years) it is the downward inflection - it can sound quite neutral - that distinguishes the true Qld "eh". It doesn't necessarily sound like a question, even though it's usually written with a question mark. When I first heard it I was unsure what the speaker meant by it. The Victorians I grew up with also used "eh", but it had more of an upward inflection, inviting agreement, as in "Whaddayareckon?" at the end of a sentence.

Contributor's comments: I am a born and bred Queenslander and was unaware of the "eh" usage being attributed to Qld. I lived in the north island of NZ for 5 years where I was overwhelmed by the use of "eh" by the Kiwis. I found myself compelled to answer them thinking I was being asked a question when in fact they were only making a statement.

Contributor's comments: I lived in Brisbane for over 30 years and had never heard eh at the end of a sentence. When I moved to central Queensland, my daughter came home from school perplexed because people kept asking her questions that she didn't know the answer to. When asked what type of questions, she answered "They say, 'I went to the Dam on the weekend, eh' and I don't know if they went to the Dam on the weekend".

Contributor's comments: [Brisbane informant] Don't you agree? As in "Isn't it good, ay?"

Contributor's comments: [Central Coast Qld informant] Wat do u reckon: "Do u wanna go to the mall aye?"

Contributor's comments: As a student at the ANU everyone thought I was an American until I used the word "eh" and then everyone knew I was Canadian. As far as I knew this was a sure identifier of Canadians, since we say it at the end of any sentence, eh.

Contributor's comments: I lived in Cunnamulla for over 4 years (Grades 2-5)and when we returned to Brisbane my use of 'eh' was quite pervasive. My accent had become very different too. Over the years I've tried very hard to suppress it, but sometimes it just slips in there eh.

Contributor's comments: After living in FNQ for a few years I did not realise I was using "eh" at the end of sentences until it was pointed out to me by a Brisbanite. I'm sure locals don't even notice. I don't think we use it as a question for we certainly don't expect an answer.
eh, but!

No meaning, just used at the end of any phrase or sentence: Are you going to the mall, eh, but! Compare eh.

Contributor's comments: I have never heard "eh, but" used in Nth Qld and I have lived in several places in the North for over 60 years.

Contributor's comments: Sounds like a New Zealand speech form to me.

Contributor's comments: Definitely not of New Zealand origin. The Maoris end sentences with "eh" or "eh, boy" and often "eh, bro" but "eh, but" is distinctively Australian, and heard mostly in Queensland.

Contributor's comments: In Cairns "eh but" was used however "but eh" was far more common. "Pretty good but eh".

Contributor's comments: I have heard this used in SA, but not so much in the suburban areas. I can clearly remember it being used around the Whyalla area about 25 years ago.