Although the official birth of the Australian nation occurred in 1901 at Federation, a national identity remained dormant until the Anzacs stepped onto the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915. Despite the abysmal failure of the campaign, the Australian forces came to be known as some of the fiercest and most courageous fighters, and the men themselves were not afraid to brag about it.
Although it has been nearly a century since the 1915 publication of C.J. Dennis’ verse narrative Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, Dennis’ comic use of the Australian vernacular continues to endear the work to contemporary readers.
The Songs tell a humorous love story as Bill ‘the Bloke’ tries to reform his rough larrikin habits in order to win the affections of Doreen, a young pickle factory worker. The book is full of examples of Australian colloquialisms, particularly words relating to the world of the urban larrikin (then a word meaning ‘hooligan’). Continue reading →
Dame Edna pictured with Australian singer Barry Crocker, after whom the expression 'a Barry Crocker' rhyming slang for 'a shocker' (a bad or disappointing person or thing) is named.
Rhyming slang is so commonly associated with London’s East End that it is usually referred to as Cockney rhyming slang. However it’s almost as prevalent in some circles of Australian society, and Australian English has many words deriving from rhyming slang.