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What is Cockney rhyming slang?

Guest Author - Nicola Jane Soen



Otherwise titled: Cockney Rhyming Slang, what a lot of old pony! I'll Explain!
Well me old muckers, what is cockney rhyming slang? Let’s start at the beginning with some history. What makes someone cockney? The long held belief is that being born ‘within’ the sound of the Bow Bells makes the baby a true cockney. The Bow Bells incidentally is a set of church bells. You know the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons? Thats the one!! The Bow bells rang from the tower of St. Mary Le Bow church located in Cheapside. This church sadly no longer stands because it was destroyed in the great fire of 1666, a new one was built afterwards. There are theories of how the ‘speak’ of the cockney developed. This could have been to make a secret language, to confuse the authorities.

So lets go back in time; Its 1800 in a dark tavern, the wind is blowing out side onto a cold winter eve. Perkin the Tavern owner calls his wife to pass him a keg of beer “ Well me ol’ trouble, get down them bloomin’ apples n' rolls us up a keg afor we dies a parchment.”
Griselda the buxom wife mutters under her breath “Bloomin Lemon, me plates already worn ayat carryin’ n' fetchin’ all day, let alone going up n’ down them apple.” Muttering more obnoxious comments poor Griselda descends the stairs…

What on earth you ask? I know! Well most cockney begins with a word that does not in itself reveal the answer, and there is the mystery. For example, “Me ol’ China” is actually a term used for a mate or friend. This only makes sense to the uninitiated when you add the word ‘plate’, Hence china plate means mate. AHHHHHHHH you say NOW I get it! Some of these are so well known that it does not need to rhyme, and have integrated so well that most Brits understand what they mean without the rhyme.

To translate Perkin and Griselda: “well my wife (trouble n strife!) get down them Stairs (apple n pears) for a keg (barrel, not slang!)afor we dies a parchment(not slang, thirst!)”
To which our hard worked Griselda replies “My geezer (Husband) (Lemon Squeezer!) me poor feet (plates of meat) climbing up the stairs!"
SO much more interesting when done in cockney don’t you think?! I know that I still have not explained the the term ‘ What a Load of old Pony!’,well, the polite English interpretation is ‘rubbish’. However for those who wish to try and guess I leave you with another interpretation, but I’m not telling!! Imagine the day has not gone well…….It’s 'Pony and Trap!'.


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Content copyright © 2014 by Nicola Jane Soen. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Nicola Jane Soen. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Asha Sahni for details.

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