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This book will help you understand the unique and ancient Cockney dialect and have you talking like a native in no time. The book includes a dictionary to help you develop an altogether new vocabulary, plus a wonderful collection of tales and anecdotes, all chosen to illustrate different aspects of the delightful local dialect.
Well then, me ol’ Chinas, this secret language may have originated not only from the costermongers but also from smugglers and seamen as well as from dubious places such as the opium dens of Limehouse. All of these people wished to be understood only by those in the know, and not by the authorities or their customers! Before rhyming slang, words were often pronounced backwards and even children were fluent in this. It may have been around the 1840s when Cockney rhyming slang began to be used by costermongers in the East End. There is something romantic about rhymes, and seamen picked up on it, spreading its usage to other ports; my grandfather would come out with these same rhymes when he worked at the docks in Glasgow.
However, it is much more complicated than that. It may be all right for outsiders to understand ‘sausage ’n’ mash’ to mean cash, but if only the first word is used and not the rhyming word, then it is more difficult to work out the meaning, as when ‘not having a sausage’ means broke. Walking along Whitechapel Road these days, it is rare to hear a Cockney voice amongst the market traders and their customers. A cabbie has assured me that many Cockneys have moved away to Essex, and Romford Market is where you will find them. Having said that, I have met many people from the East End who have kindly shared their memories with me and would live nowhere else and love this ever-changing, vibrant, friendly part of London.
A recent survey on Cockney rhyming slang by the Museum of London Docklands showed that seven out of ten people think that it is dying out or fading. On the positive side, two-thirds think that it is crucial to London’s identity. So here is your chance to ’ave a butcher’s and get rabbitin’.
Released: August 2013
Size: 180 x 110mm
Author: Kate Sanderson