Rhyming Slang

Discussion in 'Evolution of Language' started by Tom Locke, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    I read a report the other day that said that Cockney rhyming slang is being used less and less by younger people. Much of it is impenetrable to people outside London (and even many in London), but it's interesting how much of it creeps into the language.

    I suppose that if I said that my plates were aching and I could do with a cup of Rosie and an oily rag, it would make sense to quite a few people, but be lost on many more. In between, there'd be some who would understand part of it.

    Translation: My feet (plates of meat) are aching and I could really use a cup of tea (Rosie Lee) and a cigarette (oily rag = fag).

    Quite a lot of rhyming slang comes from old music-hall stars and other forms of entertainment. For example, "going for a Ruby" means going for a curry (Ruby Murray). Someone who is "mutton" is deaf (from Mutt & Jeff, an old American cartoon strip).

    There are even more modern examples. One thing that you hear regularly is, "I haven't got a Scooby," in other words, "I haven't got a clue" (Scooby-Doo = clue).

    I hope we don't lose rhyming slang altogether. Some of it is ephemeral and a bit silly, but a lot of it has lasted for a long time.
     
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  2. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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    Speech should be used to communicate understanding. What you describe sounds like a sort of code, for an exclusive few.
     
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  3. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    I fully understand the point, but I would argue that dialect and idiom form an important part of language and are therefore precious. Language is, in a sense, the preserve of an exclusive few, depending upon the number of people that speak any given language.

    Variations occur in any language; in the UK, there is a broad range of dialects, not necessarily understood by all of the people living in a certain area. It also depends upon context; someone is much more likely to communicate using dialect words and phrases with someone who also understands that particular idiom. In a more formal setting, their speech will revert to more standard usage.
     
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  4. Carlota Clemens

    Carlota Clemens Well-Known Member
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    I think preserving this and other traditions should be task of the Ministry of Culture in the Great Britain and the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture in America.

    If they don't do, it's hard to get private organization supporting culture-related affairs in the belief they don't pay off.
     
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  5. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Very Well-Known Member
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    Each generation has their own slang. Young folks today have trouble understanding slang from previous generations and I sure as heck can't understand young folks. We seniors have been through many generations and can somewhat understand the many changes our language has gone through but I'm not sure I'll ever understand some of the slang used today.
     
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  6. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    A few years ago, I watched a really interesting BBC television programme. Somebody - I can't recall who - discovered some old long-playing records in a vault in Berlin. On playing them, they discovered that they contained interviews with British prisoners of war from World War I. The programme makers managed to find relatives of some of these prisoners and what was really intriguing was how much the accents had changed over time. The families came from four or five different parts of the UK and there was a distinct shift in accents from then and those from now.

    The shift was, and is, towards a more homogenised form of English. It would be a great shame if these trends reached a logical conclusion at some point in the distant future, whereby everybody had just one accent and one mode of speech.
     
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  7. Jennifer Graves

    Jennifer Graves Active Member
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    I had no idea this even existed! Is "oily rag" standard for cigarette or do you come up with it as you go?
     
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  8. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    It's something that evolves constantly. "Oily rag" is a term that's been around for a long time, but I've also heard "Harry Wragg" (a British jockey of the 1940s and 1950s) and more recently "Melvyn Bragg" (a present-day broadcaster and author), so terms can change with the times. I've also heard "salmon and trout" used for a cigarette (salmon and trout - snout, snout being a common word for tobacco).
     
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  9. Avigail David

    Avigail David Well-Known Member
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    In'eresting! I just had a butcher's hook of the Cockney wind'n'kite. I'd be off mi bacon rind if I go on rabbiting this cockney gibberish luv'a duck way.

    I'm not sure if I made sense. But good fun. Nuff said.
     
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  10. Tom Locke

    Tom Locke Very Well-Known Member
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    Never stopped Dick van Dyke from having a career...
     
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  11. Carlota Clemens

    Carlota Clemens Well-Known Member
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    Oh, I just remembered Dick made famous that funny way to talk, LOL
     
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  12. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    @Sheldon Scott The more I hear of some of it, the less I want to hear. It's obvious from how some speak, that they have no intention of ever holding a real job or contributing to society.

    I enjoy trying to figure out some of the slang I hear from around the U.S., as well as other countries. My Mother and I were actually discussing this a while ago/ We were on the phone, and I was looking up slang from Newfoundland and found out the origins of many expressions we'd both grown up with, that we hadn't realized were from that area, where my Grandparents originated.
     
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  13. Krissttina Isobe

    Krissttina Isobe Very Well-Known Member
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    :oops:I have never heard of these rhyming slangs. I like rhyming words. I don't know much slang like you've mentioned. It makes for a nice story that has a specific geographic setting. I remember watching James Herriot's television show All Creatures Great and Small set in the 1920's or so and farmers living in rural areas of a time in Britain. The language was different. http://www.jamesherriot.org/television-show/ has more information about the television show. When you speak in a language of a geographic area it is not understood by all. Like living in Hawaii there is a pigeon language we sometimes speak to each other that when listened to by another American does not understand what we're are saying. Slang is fun if you understand it.
     
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  14. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    That's a great point, @Krissttina Isobe. There's nothing wrong with communicating among ourselves, using our own terminology, but when someone is made to feel like an outsider, that's where I draw the line. I used to ride the buses and subway up in the Boston area a lot, as well as the buses in Houston years ago, and I enjoyed listening to peoples' conversations. It's interesting how we tend to use shortcuts with loved ones and others we associate with, and, as an outside observer, it can be fun to try to interpret what's actually being said.
     
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  15. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    I love different accents
    The 'way' we speak is our interpretation and gives a good indication of who we are
    The problem today is that 'slang' even mannerisms, are copied and individuality becomes less so
    If its on trend to speak with a 'croak' in yer voice, then you will hear it too often
    If its on trend to end yer sentence with a ? mark - you will hear it used too often
    The latest trend seems to be starting a sentence with the word 'so'
    So :rolleyes: - we are losing our individuality
    I'm a Cockney - Irish girl and tend to write as I speak. Hopefully it won't get on yer nerves too much ...........
     
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  16. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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    Yer doin' jus' fine!
     
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  17. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    Y'all talk funny? :D
     
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  18. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    My Ozarks neighbor had a "pahl a pop". (pile of pipe)

    Waitress asked "Yn's "lock a slahs a pah"? You' ins like a slice of pie?

    My Dad was one of the best I knew to come up with witticisms on the spur of the moment. But many would be offensive, today,. "PC" ya know.
     
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  19. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Smashing replies - thank you :D
     
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  20. K E Gordon

    K E Gordon Very Well-Known Member
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    I used to have a friend on chat who used a lot of cockney slang in his communication. Many times we were mystified as to what he was trying to say. I used to tell him flippantly to speak English. We sometimes used an Australian person to help interpret. It was really quite funny! I think some of the time he used that speech just to throw us.
     
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  21. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Well makes a change don't it :p
     
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  22. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    It's many years since I heard the word 'smashing' used in this context...
     
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  23. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    @Holly Saunders
    Hello Holly - are you a London girl ?
    Nice to meet you :)
     
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  24. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    Yes I live On the edge of North London and Herts (also like you of Celtic origin) ...nice to meet you too Patsy where are you?
     
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  25. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    I'm in Kent now - moved from London because it was changing so much
    I miss the London 'I knew' very much
     
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