LEARN real ENGLISH LANGUAGE & CULTURE

Zak's Survival Pack - English language guide - Cockney and Cockney Rhyming Slang

ESSENTIAL TOOLS AND TIPS FOR SURVIVING IN ENGLAND

The West End and the East End / Cockney Rhyming Slang


Articles.  Read the text below, and complete it using an article, if an article is necessary. Use either ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘an’, or nothing.

 ________ Soho finds itself in _______ heart of what is known as _______ West End. This is an area that is a little further north of ________ River Thames. Here is where you can find all ________ theatres, ______ shops, ________ restaurants and ______ entertainment in ________ capital. This is where ________ Selfridges, one of ________ most famous department stores in ________ world is situated. Also in W1, (as _______ postal code is called), you can find _________ Oxford Street, ________ Leicester Square, and ______ Houses of Parliament.

________ East End is something different. That’s traditionally ______ working class area, and is much poorer and less glamorous than ________ West End. ________ East End is famous for its markets and for ______ interesting people. It’s also famous for the murderer _______ Jack the Ripper[1], and a curious group of people known as ________ Cockneys. Here you don’t see as many pretty parks, like ______ Hyde Park, or ______ Regent’s Park. Neither will you find big, rich hotels such as ______ Ritz in _____ Piccadilly, or ______ Lanesborough on _____ Hyde Park Corner.

In between _______ East and ______ West End is ______ business centre, which is called simply ‘______ City.’ Historically ______ Soho was ______ ‘red light’ district of London, although nowadays it’s been completely cleaned up, and _____ hard-core[2] vice and ______ prostitution have moved to other areas like ______ King’s Cross.

With which of the following do we use articles? Sometimes there are exceptions. Give examples. Countries. Areas of town. Rivers. Mountain ranges. Parks. People. Streets. Shops. Hotels. Newspapers. Magazines. 

 


Heading - What is Cockney? English language exercise

 The answer is complicated. The subject is very complicated too. Especially for foreign students. A cockney is someone who is born in the working class East End of London, who has a marked accent, and often uses a special humorous vocabulary. The most famous internationally known cockney was the character Eliza Doolittle, played by Audrey Hepburn in the film My Fair Lady (originally from the play Pygmalian by George Bernard Shaw). If you remember the film, Eliza was the uneducated woman who sells flowers in the street, who is adopted by an English gentleman, Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison), because he considers her English to be the worst he has ever heard. Lucky he never heard your English, eh student? The cockney, and London accent is, in general, typified by dropping the letter ‘h’ in pronunciation. You may remember the famous phrases from the film. ‘In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, Hurricanes hardly ever happen,’ and, of course, ‘the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain.’

Cockney Rhyming Slang is the name give to the curious London vocabulary, (not a language or a dialect as some would call it) which these people and others sometimes use. It is a humorous substitution of words for other words or phrases that rhyme with each other. A classic example would be: ‘Dad’s talking on the dog and bone.’ What rhymes with ‘dog and bone’? Think about it. Imagine a dog chewing a bone. Answer: The phone. The word in cockney rhyming slang usually has some kind of comical resemblance to the original word. A ‘jam tart’ (a type of cake that contains red fruit jam) means ‘heart’. Cockney Rhyming Slang is seldom used seriously. It can be used to make your vocabulary more colourful, but even the Cockneys themselves use it in moderation. If not, it will sound ridiculous. You should get a few laughs, if you do use it. Its charm is the fact that people make it as complicated as possible, by only using parts of the phrase, and often the part that doesn’t rhyme! So that native speakers often have trouble working out its meaning. An example. ‘What are you rabbiting on about?’  ‘to rabbit and pork’ means ‘to talk’. So the sentence means, ‘What are you talking about? Don’t worry it’s as complicated for us as it is for you!

 

 

[1] Jack the Ripper London’s most famous serial killer who murdered prostitutes in and around the East End during the reign of Queen Victoria. Remains the subject of many biographies and documentaries mainly because of the very brutal nature of the killings and because his identity has never been found out.

[2] Hardcore (adjective) the toughest, strongest, most extreme. When used about people it refers to a group that are really dedicated to something. ‘The hardcore party-goers stayed out drinking and partying until the early hours of the morning.’ It can be used as an adjective to describe particularly strong material or content. ’Hardcore rock music is just too intense for me.’ Amsterdam is full of hardcore pornography.’

Audrey Hepburn playing 'cockney' character Eliza Doolittle in the film 'My Fair Lady'. The story is about the transformation of low-class flower seller into a 'lady'. The film Pretty Woman used the same idea. 


A basic Cockney dictionary

PRONUNCIATION.

Match the following Cockney expressions with a word that rhymes from the list in the box below.  

Adam and Eve 

Alligator 

Apple pie

Bottle of water 

Brown bread

Cain and Abel 

Canoes 

Cough and sneeze

Current bun 

Dunkirk

Finger and thumb 

Fisherman’s daughter 

Frog and toad

Hampstead heath 

Here and there 

Irish stew

Jack Horner

Jam tart 

Loaf of Bread

Pig’s ear

Plates of meat 

Rabbit and pork 

Read and write 

Ribbon and curl

These and those

Uncle Bert

Uncle Fred 

William Tell 

beer

daughter

corner

true

shoes

teeth

smell

chair

heart

talk

work

bread

shirt

road

fight

later

sky

dead

mum

head

girl

believe

cheese

clothes

feet

son

table

water



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