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It’s all gone Pete Tong for Cockney rhyming slang

Posted at 10:30 am, March 29, 2012 in Fun London, News
Cockneys © Museum of London

OMG, Cockney rhyming slang is totes headed for a hash tag fail. For realsies. A recent survey by the Museum of London has found that rhyming slang, long the vernacular of London’s East End, may be losing its place in modern speech. The survey tested 2,000 Britons, half of whom were Londoners, on their knowledge of and attitudes towards both cockney and modern slang. ‘Apples and pears’ (stairs) climbed to the top of the rankings as the most commonly used phrase while ‘porky pies’ (lies) was the most recognised. Meanwhile ‘OMG’ (surprise), ‘well jel’ (envy) and ‘innit’ (confirmation) were some of the more popular modern slang words. Only half of people knew that ‘brown bread’ meant dead, while a third thought that a ‘bunsen burner’ was a term for a firearm (as opposed to meaning money). That said, virtually every Briton knew that ‘cream crackered’ meant knackered.

Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London, says ‘for many people, Cockney rhyming slang is intrinsic to the identity of London’ and while it’s hard to know how the dialect will change in the future, ‘it will always be a reflection of the city’s population’. The decline of rhyming slang isn’t a LOLing matter, but to be honest the world of hip hop would be a different place if it was constrained by the rules of the rhyming slang. ‘Word up’ wouldn’t have sounded half as cool in Cockney (dickie bird up) and the career of Vanilla white mIce’ would have struggled. Didi Mae Hand

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