I'm not a native English speaker and cannot get the full meaning of this part of Orison Swett Marden's self help book "Pushing to the front":

"Why the doose de 'e 'old 'is 'ead down like that?" asked a cockney sergeant-major angrily, when a worthy fellow soldier wished to be reinstated in a position from which he had been dismissed. "Has 'e 's been han hofficer 'e bought to know 'ow to be'ave 'isself better. What use 'ud 'e be has a non-commissioned hofficer hif 'e didn't dare look 'is men in the face? Hif a man wants to be a soldier, hi say, let 'im cock 'is chin hup, switch 'is stick abart a bit, an give a crack hover the 'ead to hanybody who comes foolin' round 'im, helse 'e might just has well be a Methodist parson."

It is in the beginning of chapter 18 which is entitled "A fortune in good manners". I need someone translates it to formal English.

  • 1
    The Sergeant-Major drops his aitches ('old for hold, 'ead for head) and adds them to words that don't need them ('As he's been an officer...') Doose = deuce, abart = about. Does that help? Apr 12, 2020 at 15:24
  • Yeah, Thanks. It helped a lot.
    – Saeed Vrz
    Apr 13, 2020 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


"Why the deuce does he hold his head down like that? As he's been an officer he ought to know how to behave himself better. What use would he be as a non-commissioned officer if he didn't dare look his men in the face? If a man wants to be a soldier, I say, let him cock his chin up, switch his stick apart a bit, and give a crack over the head to anybody who comes fooling around him, else he might just as well be a Methodist parson."

  • Switch his stick about - Methodist parson. Apr 14, 2020 at 7:16
  • @KateBunting Second one is just a typo, thanks for catching it; can you give a source for the first? I didn't find any hits for either version of the phrase. Apr 15, 2020 at 1:30
  • Just my knowledge that a Cockney (and speakers of some other English dialects) would pronounce 'about' as 'abaht' - and it makes more sense in context. Apr 15, 2020 at 8:11

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