‘The Man from Snowy River’ and Australian English

by Mark Gwynn

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away.
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
(opening lines of ‘The Man from Snowy River’, 1890)

Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s poems and his use of the Australian vernacular have endeared him to generations of Australians. In the Australian National Dictionary (a dictionary of Australian English using quotations to provide evidence of how words are used over time) Paterson is quoted 78 times. His poems provide valuable evidence of 19th and early 20th century Australian English—particularly the language of the Australian bush. In this blog I will look closely at some of the Australianisms found in ‘The Man from Snowy River’.

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