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The 1972 Parramatta Jail Glossary

An Edition with Commentary

Bruce Moore



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Australian Dictionary Publications
15 November 2023
In 1972, a group of prisoners at Parramatta Jail in Sydney put together a glossary of prison words and phrases. It is a list of 362 words with definitions.

Many of the terms describe life in the prison, including punishments, the psychological effects of incarceration, and male to male sex. Others come from the prisoners' encounters with police and the legal system or from the prisoners' place in a wider underworld or criminal culture.

The book examines the social functions of underworld and prison slang, especially its role in creating a world that stands in opposition to the 'ordinary' world that most of us inhabit. It shows that prison language is the cement that holds together the structure of the prisoners' alternative reality.

The major part of the book is a detailed edition of the words and phrases that make up the Parramatta Jail Glossary. It explains what the words mean and where they came from. There are extensive quotations from texts such as newspapers, novels, and autobiographies that illustrate how the words in the glossary are used in speech and writing. They bring to life the social world of the prisoners.
Imprint:   Australian Dictionary Publications
Volume:   1
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 15mm
Weight:   386g
ISBN:   9780645955002
ISBN 10:   0645955000
Series:   Studies in the History of Australian English
Pages:   260
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Dr Bruce Moore has published many studies of Australian English. He was chief editor of the two-volume Australian National Dictionary: Australian Words and Their Origins (2016). He edited Australian dictionaries for Oxford University Press, including the Australian Oxford Dictionary, the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, and the Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary. His book Speaking Our Language: The Story of Australian English (2008) is the standard account of the history of Australian English. Other monographs include What's Their Story: A History of Australian Words (2010) and Come in Spinner: A History of Two-up and Its Language (2022). He was Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the Australian National University from 1994 to 2011, and is currently an Honorary Associate Professor at ANU.

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