Saturday, December 13, 2008

SILLY SATURDAY: Cockney Astrologese.

(Warning: silliness ahead!)
Cockney rhyming slang is a source of great confusion to a certain companion of mine, Chez Twilight, and no doubt the rest of the USA feels the same, not to mention parts of the UK north of Watford. Rhyming slang originates in the East End of London (dark spot at lower right of map). The East End used to be the poorer side of the UK's capital city, populated by salt of the earth, working class folk. I don't know whether that is still the case.
There's a full explanation HERE, of this peculiar slang.
Brief extract:
"Rhyming Slang phrases are derived from taking an expression which rhymes with a word and then using that expression instead of the word. For example the word "look" rhymes with "butcher's hook". In many cases the rhyming word is omitted - so you won't find too many Londoners having a "bucher's hook" at this site, but you might find a few having a "butcher's".

The rhyming word is not always omitted so Cockney expressions can vary in their construction, and it is simply a matter of convention which version is used."

Common examples:
Feet rhymes with plates of meat - cockney slang = plates
("Oooh, my plates are killin' me!")

Eyes rhymes with mince pies ("He has lovely minces, Ethel!")

Hair rhymes with Barnet Fair ("the wife's gone to 'ave 'er barnet fixed.")

Head rhymes with loaf of bread ("use yer loaf!") This one has become a commonly used expression throughout the UK, people are often not aware of its origin.

Sun, by the way, is currant bun.
Wife - trouble and strife (very sexist!)
Phone - dog and bone
Brown bread - dead
Pen and ink - stink.....
There are hundreds of 'em!
Readers in America might be interested to know that "a Yank" already common slang for "an American", becomes "a septic tank", so in Cockney Land visitors from the US can be referred to as "Septics"!

"In the last few years hundreds of brand new slang expressions have been invented - many betraying their modern roots, eg "Emma Freuds: hemorrhoids"; (Emma Freud is a TV and radio broadcaster) and "Ayrton Senna"(racing driver) =: tenner (10 pound note)."

Okay - got the idea?

Well, I decided to try some astrologese examples, but it's not easy. Most planets and signs refuse to rhyme with any other word. In any case it would make an already jargon-filled subject even more unintelligible. Just for fun though, how about:

"Oh no, Mars and Pluto are grizzly" (grizzly bear - square) - I like this one - I shall use it!

or "His bottle's Scorpio" (bottle of wine - rising sign)

or "Ooh, look, Jupiter and Venus are in gold" (in trine - gold mine)

and, perhaps......
Zodiac - duck's quack
Natal chart - horse & cart.

Putting some of that together, and envisioning a visit to a cockney astrologer (who has probably had a few too many beers), a consultation might go something like this:

"Using tropical duck's quack an' yer horse 'n cart, darlin', I can tell yer your currant bun's in Aquarius. Yer balloon 'n Saturn's in Aries. You've a grizzly from yer balloon to Mercury, an' a gold from Neptune. Yer bottle's in Cancer. Okay? That'll be an Ayrton Senna then."

The linked website also tells us:
"Modern Cockney slang that is being developed today tends to only rhyme words with the names of celebrities or famous people.
Cockney expressions are being exported from London all over the world. Here at we get loads of enquiries from folks as far afield as the USA, Canada and Japan, all wanting to know the meaning of Cockney expressions."

Here are a few from the current scene in the US. I've concocted these myself - or should that be concockneyed?

"He's a Barack" (farmer = Barack Obama)
"Do you know the Al Gore, mate?" - (score = Al Gore)
"That dog's afraid of its own Rachel" (shadow - Rachel Maddow)
"We've taken the wrong turn, luv - we'll lose our Tina" - (way =Tina Fey )


Wisewebwoman said...

My brain's bleeding after all this, T. Astrology being complicated enough without adding yer Cockney twist!

Twilight said...

Yes - sorry an' all about that, WWW!

I think too many hot toddies went to me loaf! ;-)

anthonynorth said...

That was enjoyable, especially after just coming down the apples and pears to the trouble and strife in me whistle and flute ...
Damn, can't think of any more now :-)

Twilight said...

Hi AN! Hmmm- nice whistle! You'll be ready for a cup o' Rosie then. ;-)

R J Adams said...

I'm with WWW, astrology's complicated enough! What's with the cockney, anyway? Where's all that Yorkshire patter you grew up with? Ee' by 'eck!
A nicely worked piece, though.

Twilight said...

Just trying to spread a bit of English kulcha, RJ ! :-)
Yorkshire dialect, when written, baffles me as much as anybody, so it was a non-starter.

I often think how amazing it is that in a tiny country like Britain, which would priobably fit into Texas or California, there are so many diverse dialects and accents. :-)

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