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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Cockney Rhyming Slang

As I am away again this week (explanation in a later post!), I am repeating this post of five years ago from my previous blog. Cockney rhyming slang together with US Versus UK English were always the most popular topics.
The true definition of a Cockney is someone born within the sound of Bow Bells. That specifically refers to the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow church in the East End of London, however it’s a term generally applied to indigenous working-class east enders and sometimes, loosely, to any working-class Londoner. The word itself originates from fourteenth century English meaning a cock’s egg; a term used by country folk to refer to town’s people. I imagine the implication was that town-dwellers, being unwise to country ways, would not know that hens, not cocks, lay the eggs!

Cockney Rhyming Slang (CRS) is not a language because all of the words used are clearly English, neither can it be called a dialect because those who use it are perfectly capable of not using it. Here’s how it works: Words, usually nouns, are substituted by a pair of words, the second of which rhymes with the original word – but, usually, only the first word of the pair is used. Confused? Read on.

The best way to illustrate the above is by example. The CRS for stairs is ‘apples and pears’, so the word used is ‘apples’. “I’m just going upstairs” becomes “I’m just going up the apples”!

Here are some other CRS words that are still in common use:

Arse= Khyber (Khyber Pass) so “Stick it up your khyber.”

Mate= China (China Plate) so “ How are yer, me old china?”

Phone= Dog (Dog and Bone) so “ I’ll give him a dog tonight.”

Look= Butchers (Butcher’s Hook) so “Take a butchers at Tom’s new jam jar [=car].”

Things can get really obscure sometimes when a double link is used. For example, Arse (again!) can sometimes be Aris. This is from Aris being short for Aristotle, which rhymes with bottle for which the rhyming slang is ‘Bottle and Glass’ and glass rhymes with arse! There are no rules!

If you are new to this try translating the following and I will post the answers next weekend:

1) She’s got beautiful minces.

2) She may be his skin and blister but she’s nothing like him.

3) I can’t see. Where’s me gregs?

4) I bought a new whistle for me wedding.

5) What a lovely pair of bristols she’s got!

It’s a living culture and new slang for modern words appear all of the time. Have some fun by making up your own!
Answers now posted in the comments!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Painting of the month (18) June 2011: Raoul Dufy

The Casino at Nice by Dufy 1877 - 1953
The paintings of the French artist Raoul Dufy (pronounced: doofee) may not be the most technically proficient but I find them hugely enjoyable to look at. This one is typical in style; it has been heavily 'drawn' and painted in large blocks of single colour. This makes the paintings often look like poster art as used in advertisements but I can say that these are pictures that one can live with and never tire at looking at them.
Dufy was born in 1877 and was influenced by the impressionists and, later, the Fauves (Matisse and Derain)who were strong colourists. His ever-present optimism lives on in his work.

 How gorgeous is the colour in this picture?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Exmouth, Devon, UK (100th Post)

The unspoiled seafront at Exmouth
Exmouth is a beautiful old town situated at the mouth of the  estuary of the river Ex, on England's south coast in the county of  Devon. It's about 150 miles from the centre of London and ten miles south of Exeter.
My cousin and his wife have just celebrated a big wedding anniversary. They ran away to Gretna Green (really) to get married when he was 16 and she was 17 years old. Despite all the predictions the marriage has lasted and they have four grandchildren now. That part of the south coast is very wealthy and it would help to be quite rich if you want to live there.
Exmouth Marina (
We just got back from a wonderful long weekend of celebration there and on Thursday we are off again for another long wekend in Bournemouth further up the south coast and only a hundred miles from London. It's a tough life n'est pas?