Cor blimey, guv’nor – Cockney rhyming slang is in Barney Rubble. Yes, the language favoured by Pearly Kings and Queens, Dick Van Dyke and Ray Winstone is dying out as a new language is replacing our playful Cockney patter. At least that’s the conclusion that linguistic researchers have come to after eight years of tracking the development of patterns of speech in multicultural areas including London, Birmingham and Manchester.
This new hybrid dialect has been dubbed Multicultural London English (originally nicknamed Jafaican – fake Jamaican), with influences thought to include West Indian, South Asian, Cockney and Estuary English. Think Dizzee Rascal, Idris Elba – and basically every conversation that’s ever taken place within a Chicken Cottage. Paul Kerswill, professor of socio-linguistics at York University, who led the research, told the Sunday Times: ‘There are two things going on: youth slang, which a lot of people use. But there are [also] core users of MLE and to them it is a dialect and an accent. It doesn’t have to have slang in it. It’s a new kind of Cockney in a way.’
So is Cockney brown bread? Not yet. According to the scientists, it’s moved out to suburban Essex where it’s thriving way beyond the sound of Bow Bells. Would you Adam and Eve it?
Time Out’s two-minute guide to MLE:
Nang: good, cool
Sick: good, cool
Nuff: enough, very
Begging: talking nonsense
Jammin: hanging around
Safe: easy (as in a greeting to someone)
➤ Map of second languages spoken in London
➤ London is the fourth biggest Jamaican city (and other fun facts about where Londoners are really from)
➤ Chatty map analyses the twitter languages of London