9 Aug 2019

Simon Barnard: criminal slang from a convict nerd

From Nine To Noon, 10:07 am on 9 August 2019
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Melbourne based writer Simon Barnard's new book James Hardy Vaux's 1819 Dictionary of Criminal Slang - and other impolite terms as used by the convicts of the British Colonies of Australia reproduces Australia's first dictionary, written by the three-times transported convict. 

It gives an insight into the lives of Australia's criminals and the words they used to describe and hide their crimes - many of which have survived into everyday language.

It soon became a bestseller among "cross coves" (criminals) and "square coves" (honest folk) alike.  Now, on the 200-year anniversary of its publication, this new edition presents Vaux's original dictionary entries, alongside Simon's tales of convicts' lives and crimes.  Simon tells Kathryn Ryan how he is a self confessed convict nerd and collector of colonial artifacts.