Thursday, 12 July 2012


Johannes Brahms
Image: Wikipedia

In this BBC video, some US Olympic athletes are trying to pronounce Cockney rhyming slang.  They are also trying to use a London accent.

A Cockney is a term used to describe someone born in the East End of London and traditionally the person should be able to hear the Bow Bells from the place where he or she is born.  Cockney rhyming slang is a kind of slang [gergo] based on words that rhyme and often the second word of the phrase is omitted: for example, a speaker will just say "Dog" for dog and bone, which means "telephone".

No one really knows how Cockney rhyming slang originated but one likely explanation is that workers used it so that their employers would not be able to understand what they were talking about!

The sentence the athletes are trying to pronounce is:

"I'll stick on the Hansel and Gretel and make us a nice cup of Rosie Lee."

Hansel and Gretel means "kettle" [bollitore] and Rosie Lee means "tea" so the speaker is saying he's going to put on [accendere] the kettle and make a nice cup of tea for everybody.

Just for fun today, see if you can match up the following Cockney rhyming slang expressions 1 - 8 with their meanings a - h.  You will find the answers at the end of the post.

1.  apples and pears

2.  trouble and strife

3.  Ruby Murray  [She was a popular Irish singer.]

4.  plates of meat

5.  Adam and Eve

6.  Sweeney Todd

7.  Barnet Fair  [Barnet is a town near London.]

8.  Brahms and Liszt

a.  feet

b.  wife

c.  hair

d.  pissed [also slang, meaning "drunk" [ubriaco]

e.  believe

f.  stairs

g.  curry

h.  Flying Squad [a branch of the London Metropolitan Police Service]

Franz Liszt by Pierre Petit
Image: Wikipedia

Highlight the space below to see the answers:

1f  2b  3g  4a  5e  6h  7c  8d

Now, what does the following sentence mean?

The singer Ruby Murray

"I'm going to take the trouble out for a Ruby after she's had her Barnet done."

Again, highlight the space below to see the answer.

"I'm going to take my wife out for a curry after she's had her hair done."

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