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Cockney

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Cockney

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:39 pm

• cockney •


Pronunciation: kahk-ni • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A resident of the East End of London. 2. The accent (dialect) associated with the residents of the East End of London.

Notes: Here is an appropriate word to consider while our minds are still on yesterday's all British word dekko. Cockney English is as striking a dialect of English as 'Brooklynese' or the 'drawls' of the southern US. It contains no Hs, replaces T with the glottal stop we all pronounce between the oh's of Oh-oh!, and replaces TH with F.

In Play: To make this dialect of English all the more impenetrable, Cockneys have introduced a special code called 'Cockney rhyming slang', replacing words with words accompanying words that rhyme with them. Hard to follow? Here are a few examples. A lie is called a porky because lie rhymes with pork pie. To have a butcher's is to have a look, rhyming with butcher's hook. Your china is your mate because mate rhymes with china plate.

Word History: You won't believe where this word came from! In Middle English the word was cokenei "cock's (rooster's) egg", something pretty special, wouldn't you say? Well, that is why the meaning soon shifted to "a pampered child". Soon it quite naturally took on the meaning "city dweller" to those who resided in the villages and countryside. Cockneys today are a very special type of city dweller. Cock itself is seldom used to refer to a male fowl in the US due to the vulgar sense it assumed early on. However, it comes from the same source as chicken: sound imitation. Even Late Latin referred to clucking as coccus from coco, the sound of clucking. The Old English word for chicken was cicen, probably from cici [kiki], the sound of chicks clucking (clicking?)
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Re: Cockney

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:55 pm

Love "My Fair Lady" and a certain version of "Oliver Twist".
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Re: Cockney

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:33 pm

Although to be an authentic Cockney one must be born within the sound of Bow Bell, they are a dispersed lot. Australia has many Cockney citizens. When I told, by e-mail, an Australian Cockney that the word meant cock's egg, he threatened to tear out my entrails and strangle me with them. I am glad I was safely here stateside. The Caribbean islands also have a Cockney population. Caribbean island natives also live in large numbers in London, strengthening the Cockney presence there.

The Good Doctor has done a good description of Cockneyism. There are a few variations. I have noted that while they do not pronounce the letter h where it is written, some of them throw in a gratuitous h where it is not written. We had a Cockney maid, by way of the Caribbean, while living in New Jersey. She had a friend she spent weekends with who lived in Perth Amboy. She called it Pert Hamboe. She served us happles and horanges. When she was happy she was appy.

“Pygmalion”, a play by George Bernard Shaw, was made into the musical play “My Fair Lady”. The superb movie followed. It is a Cockney farce, and one of my favorite musicals.

Finally, and certainly not to the point, John F. Kennedy pronounced Cuba as Koober.
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Re: Cockney

Postby MTC » Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:04 pm

Henry: Hear them down in Soho square,
Dropping "h's" everywhere.
Speaking English anyway they like.
You sir, did you go to school?
Man: Wadaya tike me for, a fool?
Henry: No one taught him 'take' instead of 'tike!
Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?

For a dip into the phonetics of My Fair Lady, the Received Pronunciation (RP) of Henry Higgins and the Cockney dialect of Eliza Doolittle, here (or 'ear) is an interesting short piece:

http://www.davidpublishing.com/davidpub ... 339865.pdf

Cheerio, old chaps and chaplets.
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Re: Cockney

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:39 am

Cockney can be a beautiful language. A feature not mentioned is its rhythm. Cockney seems to me to be a very rhythmical language, and rhythm is very important in dialects. For example, the Puerto Rican Spanish that I have heard has very short vowels and is difficult therefore to understand, while Cuban is much more rounded and like textbook Spanish. Tex-Mex is also spoken rapidly and clipped, so until you have been around it for a while, it is hard to pick up. Cockney seems to be easily understood and I enjoy hearing it's rhythms.
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Re: Cockney

Postby call_copse » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:21 am

If anyone wishes to see the cockney accent as spoken today you could do worse than review the adverts here:
http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk/bl ... verts.aspx

Whatever you do don't look at Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins - renowned as the worst Cockney accent in history, lovely chap and fine actor though he may be.

On the site linked above you will also find a translation tool and other Cockney related posts. Personally I like the 'double jump' rhymes e.g. Aris is, erm, posterior. This is from Aristotle = bottle, then transcribed to bottle and glass (remembering of course British slang for posterior rhymes with pass not mass).
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Re: Cockney

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:54 pm

Over here pass and mass rhyme!

Incidentally, the term "lovely chap" has always disturbed me, although I have seen it quite a few times from the Britz. Lovely seems to me to be a feminine term, and I am brought up short when that adjective is followed by the noun "chap."
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Re: Cockney

Postby call_copse » Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:46 am

Odd the gender prejudices we associate with words, lovely chap may be slightly warmer than some expressions, but definitely not effeminate in these quarters. Sorry to disturb you! Perhaps anything love oriented is not considered suitably masculine in the US?

We would (in the UK, in my experience) pronounce pass a bit more like parse, except in parse we tend to sound the final consonant a bit more like a z than an s.
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Re: Cockney--inserting Hs

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:43 am

The incorrect insertion of H is called "overcompensation". Speakers of Cockney are told so many times not to drop Hs, that they try to insert them, but not knowing where (because they've never done it before), they insert them where they are not wanted.

Overcompensation occurs widely in English. Down South and in Massachusetts you will hear spurious Rs: Kennedy's famous pronunciation of Cuba as Cuber and my mother, who called a friend named Eva, Eever. Again, knowing they shouldn't drop final Rs, but knowing that and where to insert them are two different things.

Archie Bunker of the "All in the Family" TV show called toilets, terlets and oil, erl. Apparently he knew he should not pronounce ER as OI, e.g. bird = boid, thirty = toity. He knew he shouldn't do it, but didn't know where to make the corrections and where not. So he didn't correct boid to "bird", but did miscorrect "toilet" to terlet.

Actually, speakers of dialects who don't try to escape their dialect, memorize words as they heard them at home. They are inconsistent because of this. If mom and dad and friends said boid, their friends and relatives will say boid. If they say, terlet, their friends and relatives will say terlet. This makes predicting overcompensation impossible to predict.
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