The Australian National Dictionary uses quotations from The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke to illustrate and provide evidence for 30 Australian words. Of these quotations, six represent the first written evidence for a particular term, showing the significance of Dennis’s use of a vernacular that had rarely if ever been reproduced in print. In the three stanzas above there are eight Australian words: heading ‘em (to play two-up), John (policeman), shick (alcoholic drink), bit of skirt (a woman, esp. a young woman regarded sexually), squiz (a look), stoushin (fighting), tart (a girlfriend or sweetheart, implying admiration), and tom (a sweetheart). Some of these words are used elsewhere but were prominent or first recorded in Australian sources.
Throughout The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke we find Australianisms in nearly every stanza: bonzer (great, excellent), chiv (the face), cobber (a friend), crook (ill), furphy (a rumour, a lie), to poke mullock (to tease or deride), head over turkey (head over heels), and yakker (hard work) to name but a few. The frequency of slang in The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke and its possible unfamiliarity to the reader prompted the inclusion of a 14–page glossary in the first edition. The percentage of quotations from The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke used in The Australian National Dictionary for the year 1915 can be seen in the pie chart above. It demonstrates the importance of this work in providing historical evidence for Australian English. See below for an online edition of The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke including the glossary.
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke is a verse novel by Australian novelist and poet C. J. Dennis. The book sold over 60,000 copies in nine editions within the first year, and is probably one of the highest selling verse novels ever published in Australia.
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, a comic verse novel, was first published in book form in 1915 and sold more than sixty thousand copies in nine editions within a year. By the mid-1970s nearly three hundred thousand copies had been sold internationally.
One of the most famous works of Australian literature, it tells the story of Bill, a larrikin, who meets a young woman named Doreen. The book chronicles their courtship and marriage, and Bill's transformation from a thuggish gang member to a contented husband and father.
This edition has a new introduction by the actor Jack Thompson, renowned for his readings of C. J. Dennis's work.
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke is a perennial Australian favourite. Its 1919 screen adaptation is considered Australia's greatest silent film and one of our best movies of all time.
Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, was born in South Australia in 1876. A journalist,...