Style and Language - Cloudstreet #
In terms of voice, Australian writers have been influenced by Mark Twain’s use of “street language” – the local dialect. Henry Lawson gave us our first recording of Australian vernacular while Ray Lawler in Summer of the 17^(th) Doll captured the Australian cadences. Winton too is keen to record the distinctive Australian indigenous dialogue used by common ordinary people, sometimes restricted to the vocabulary of a brain damaged boy. Much of the narrative and dialogue is skeletal but evocative of real Aussie battlers. The vernacular tends to be more natural, fostering authenticity.
Cloudstreet is written in an Australian natural style and voice, exploding with unique vernacular, colorful idioms and traditional slang in correlation with traditional Australian battlers. “Sac” and “Deener” is slang for 6 and 1 shilling respectively. Although this may describe the British currency in use in Australia, it tells us Australia is in the process of post-colonialism as we are creating our own independent name for the money.
Other examples of archaic slang: drongo (268), doogs (128) cobber (129), dills (121)
Will you look at us by the river! The whole restless mob of us on spread blankets in the dreamy briny sunshine skylarking and chiacking about for the one day, one clear, clean, sweet day in a good world in the midst of our living. Yachts run before an unfelt gust with bagnecked pelicans riding above them, the city their twitching backdrop, all blocks and points of mirror light down to the water’s edge.
Cripes. And I thought we’d looked like reffoes. Page 50
“She hits the sauce” (drinking), and “The painters are in”
(menstration periods) not only add colour but authenticates the Australian language of the time.
“Yull put a hurdle in er girdle, won’t she loves? Eh, girls?”, (181),
Quiet as a grave, ….Hitting the sauce,(340)
“In the 20th century the vernacular had virtually become standard.” thanks to such pioneers as Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, ornate classicism was replaced by a straight-talking vox populi.
Richard Bridgman * “The Colloquial Style in America.” 1966