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The Australian Slanguage

William Thomas Goodge 1862 – 1909



"Tis the everyday Australian
  Has a language of his own,
Has a language, or a slanguage,
  Which can simply stand alone.
And a "dickon pitch to kid us"
  Is a synonym for "lie",
And to "nark it" means to stop it,
  And to "nit it" means to fly.

And a bosom friend's a "cobber,"
  And a horse a "prad" or "moke,"
While a casual acquaintance
  Is a "joker" or a "bloke."
And his lady-love's his "donah"
  or his "clinah" or his "tart"
Or his "little bit o' muslin,"
  As it used to be his "bart."

And his naming of the coinage
  Is a mystery to some,
With his "quid" and "half-a-caser"
  And his "deener" and his "scrum".
And a "tin-back" is a party
  Who's remarkable for luck,
And his food is called his "tucker"
  Or his "panem" or his "chuck".

A policeman is a "johnny"
  Or a "copman" or a "trap",
And a thing obtained on credit
  Is invariably "strap".
A conviction"s known as "trouble",
  And a gaol is called a "jug",
And a sharper is a "spieler"
  And a simpleton's a "tug".

If he hits a man in fighting
  That is what he calls a "plug",
If he borrows money from you
  He will say he "bit your lug."
And to "shake it" is to steal it,
  And to "strike it" is to beg;
And a jest is "poking borac",
  And a jester "pulls your leg".

Things are "cronk" when they go wrongly
  In the language of the "push",
But when things go as he wants 'em
  He declares it is "all cush".
When he's bright he's got a "napper",
  And he's "ratty" when he's daft,
And when looking for employment
  He is "out o' blooming graft".

And his clothes he calls his "clobber"
  Or his "togs", but what of that
When a "castor" or a "kady"
  Is the name he gives his hat!
And our undiluted English
  Is a fad to which we cling,
But the great Australian slanguage
  Is a truly awful thing!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:44 min read
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William Thomas Goodge

William Thomas Goodge (28 September 1862 – 28 November 1909) was an English writer and journalist, who arrived in Australia in 1882, after jumping ship in Sydney. He worked in various jobs in New South Wales, including as a coal-miner, until he was engaged to write for "The Tribune" in North Sydney, a small weekly associated with the "Daily Telegraph". From there he was chosen by Harry Newman (Member of Parliament and newspaper proprietor) to edit "The Leader" newspaper in Orange, NSW. Goodge remained in Orange, becoming part-owner of "The Leader" at some point, until in the early 1900s he returned to Sydney and began writing for that city's newspapers, especially "The Sunday Times". Goodge was first married on 21 January 1892. His wife died 3 January 1895 of typhoid, leaving behind two children. Sometime later he remarried and had another child. Goodge died on 28 November 1909 in North Sydney. During his writing career, Goodge wrote mainly light-verse poems and short stories. Although he did have one novel, The Fortunes of Fenchurch, serialised in the pages of The Sunday Times, the book was never published separately. His best known works were "The Great Australian Adjective", and "The Oozlum Bird". Norman Lindsay, who illustrated the reprint volume of Goodge's only poetry collection, considered the poet better than C. J. Dennis. "Goodge, with his Hits! Skits! and Jingles!, is a much better light-verse writer than Dennis, and his book should be reprinted."  more…

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    "The Australian Slanguage" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 23 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41751/the-australian-slanguage>.

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