Hilarious Cockney rhyming slang
Would you like to be able to speak using a unique code that only a few people could understand? Well, it seems that this happened in the 1840s in London's East End.
Although it is not really known who started this type of 'slang' or 'dialect' called 'cockney', it is said that it was possibly the market traders and sellers, who used it in order to be able to collude with each other without the customers being aware of it. It is also speculated that criminals invented this type of code to confuse the police.
This "slang" is called cockney because those who used this kind of language were called cockneys. A true cockney was a person who was born within the area where the church bells of Saint Mary-le-Bow church could be heard in the City of London, which basically covered the East End, where London's working class lived.
Whatever the origin of this rhyming slang, it has spread to the present day thanks to its use in films such as "Ocean's Eleven" and TV series such as "Eastenders".
So, it is quite possible that if we travel to the UK, and especially to London, we will hear the locals use certain expressions in "Cockney rhyming slang" that will not make any sense to us unless we know how this code works.
How does Cockney rhyming slang work?
Basically, it consists of replacing a word that we don't want to mention, i.e. we want to hide, with another word that rhymes with it and forms part of a set phrase.
For example, let's say we want to say the following: "Alice is walking down the stairs" and we don't want to mention the word "stairs"; then we replace it with a two-word phrase whose last word rhymes with "stairs", which in this case is "apples and pears". Thus, the rhyming slang cokney phrase would be: "Alice is walking down the apples and pears".
Instead of set phrases, London places can be used, such as "Peckham Rye", which is an open space and a road in the London Borough of Southwark, and which in Cockney rhyming slang would mean "tie". "Hampstead Heath", which is a park about six kilometres from the Trafalgar Square area, would mean "teeth".
There are also examples using names of famous people, such as "Meryl Streep", where "Streep" would mean "cheap"; "Calvin Klein" would mean "wine"...
To make things a little more complicated, in many cases the word that rhymes with the one that is being hidden is omitted, i.e. if we take the first example "apples and pears", we might hear the phrase "Alice is walking down the apples", which makes it much more difficult for a foreigner to understand what they are talking about.
To find out more about this type of slang, let's look at a few examples:
1. Adam and Eve. Believe.
I don’t Adam and Eve what you are saying.
2. Dog and bone. Phone.
She’s talking on the dog and bone.
3. Scooby Doo. Clue.
You haven’t got a Scooy Doo, have you?
4. A cup of Rosy Lea. A cup of tea.
Would you like a cup of Rosy Lea?
5. Porky pies. Lies.
Don’t tell me Porky Pies.
6. Use your loaf of bread. Use your head.
You should start using your loaf of bread a bit more.
7. Mince pies. Eyes.
She’s got such beautiful mince pies.
8. A tea leaf. Thief.
Some tea leaf has stolen my phone.
9. Trouble and strife. Wife.
I've heard he's got a new trouble and strife.
10. Plates of meat. Feet.
My plates of meat are killing me.
11. Aunty Ella. Umbrella.
We should take our aunty Ellas in case it rains later.
12. Mork and mindy. Windy.
It’s a bit mork and mindy today, isn’t it?
13. Ayrton Senna. A tenner.
This beautiful dress only cost me an Ayrton Senna.
14. Barney rubble. Trouble.
They got into a barney rubble last night.
15. Brown bread. Dead.
There's no doubt about it. He is brown bread.
16. Sky rocket. Pocket.
What's in your sky rocket?
17. Bees and honey. Money.
I’ve run out of bees and honey.
18. Pig’s ear. Beer.
Let’s go to the pub and have a pig’s ear, shall we?
19. Have a butcher’s hook. Have a look.
Could you have a butcher’s hook at this?
20. China plate. Mate.
I am meeting my China plate this afternoon.
Next time you go on a trip to London, prick up your ears, you might hear some of these Cockney rhyming slang expressions.