bangers and mash from a machine? Language and variation in Cockney

September 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

Looked in your davy cockett to discover you’re hearts of oak? Never mind, just head to the ATM and get some bangers and mash! That’s right, Cockney rhyming cash machines have been rolled out in East London.

What is interesting about this ishow the rhyming expressions change. If this site is to be believed, new forms are still being invented.

Take terms meaning rotten, for exampe, this site suggests a classic form reals of cotton. However two new forms include Dot Cotton and Nick Cotton, both characters that appeared in the early years of the soap Eastenders. Pop culture then is influencing the formation of the rhyming slang associated with the dialect.  One ofthe most well known examples of classic cockeny rhyming is barnet fair  for ‘hair’. This has been acknowedged by the readers of the website, but new forms appear to have been contributed. It is not known though how well attested the following are:  fred astaire, bonny fair, tony blair, yogi bear.

Given that adept users of the slang only give the first part of the expression, i.e., ‘I like your new barnet’, interlocutors must presume a shared knowledge to retrieve the elided element which produces the rhyme.  Presumably when the connection between Barnet and its fair was lost, new expressions needed to be found to make the rhyme.  At various times over the last century Tony would have strongly invoked  blair and Fred – Astaire.  From there, it would not be too difficult to get to the rhyme , hair.



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