Lost for words. . . . no, not really.

I have managed to find a book that has started me back into reading.  What is more, the title starts with the next letter I was meant to be reading in my A-Z Book Challenge way back in May when we went on our holiday!  It is not a magazine and it is not a novel I think you could describe it as some very short stories that are linked together. A factual book consisting several anecdotes and true stories.  There is also a fifteen episode wireless serial within the book, using the language of the 50s.  The book is now in its eleventh printing.

The book is Lost for Words – Australia’s lost language in words and stories by Hugh Lunn.

The book is edifying and hilarious, particularly for Australian readers.  If you want to find those sayings that are unique to Australia then you will find them in here.  The book sets out to tell us about the language of  1950’s  Australians, how they spoke.   The author states that it is not exclusively Australian and is not exhaustive of the sayings we had.  Some of the sayings are still used today and no doubt there are many new phrases since then but Lunn’s aim is to ensure that this uniquely Australian use of language is not lost.  He has certainly managed to convey his message with lots of humour.

There are twenty-three chapters, each on a specific topic.


My Word . . .Heavens to Betsy, Mrs Kerfoops, Hooroo

Decent Clobber. . . .daks and togs

Sold into Slavery which is based around “Mother” and her sayings.

Fathers,  which had me laughing out loud as there were so many sayings that my husband uses.  He is Australian born and bred not an immigrant like me.

. . . I don’t want to argue the toss

. . . A beer wouldn’t go astray

. . .We’ve only got two chances, Buckley’s and none.

I had no idea there were so many phrases for being full of grog.  Hugh Lunn lists twenty-seven and no doubt there are more.  Those I liked best were ” Full as a Catholic Church”, “crissed as a picket” and “full as a tick”

There is a chapter on school and learning, this chapter is called Vulgar Fractions and would bring many memories to those who went to school in Australia in the 50s.

There is now a sequel to this book and it is Words Fail Me.  

Apparently after the publishing of Lost For Words, Lunn was inundated with mail telling him of more old words and phrases using the language of Australians . . .enough for him to write a sequel.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Northern Narratives says:

    I like these type of books.

  2. Kate says:

    I have always liked Hugh Lunn after hearing him on ABC radio reading some of his books. I especially enjoyed the one about Kenny Fletcher the famous tennis player who was his best mate!

    1. suth2 says:

      Check out his thoughts on this on his website. I remember seeing it on Australian Story.

  3. These look like great books, even for non-Aussies, and a nice light-hearted way to get back into reading. I enjoyed reading the speech bubbles on the covers.

  4. I’ve always thought that Australians are the most inventive and entertaining users of English. I’ll have to read these books.

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