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Monday, August 1, 2016

John Bunyan's immortal story


Even though I learned English as a young adult and skipped all that 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' stuff, I find it just as difficult to get my head around archaic English as the next bloke.

John Bunyan wrote his classic allegory of the Christian life, The Pilgrim's Progress, while imprisoned from 1660 to 1672 for being an 'unlicensed preacher'. In the form of an allegory it tells the story of a Christian's spiritual journey from this world to the world to come.

Heavy stuff which Aussie Pilgrim's Progress helps to lighten up with the use of Aussie English. The Sydney Anglicans have dedicated a whole page to it - click here - and while they haven’t got a lot of their own content there, they’ve reprinted Kel Richards’ introduction and pretty much the first chapter of the book. Have a read. I’ll wait.

Back? As you probably noticed, once your eyesight came back after the massive cringe endured during “As I was carrying my swag on the wallaby track – somewhere out past the back o’Bourke – I came across a big coolibah tree beside a billabong”, you probably found it easy enough to understand. Easier, in fact, than the original Pilgrim's Progress.

So, even if you're 'a couple of lamingtons short of a CWA lunch' (not too bright and slow on the uptake), this little book will give you an excellent introduction to both an old English classic and a lot of Aussie slang.