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Re: Ah, but here's the rub...

Posted by R. Berg on February 11, 2002

In Reply to: Ah, but here's the rub... posted by Word Camel on February 11, 2002

: : : The last post got me to thinking... How did Cockney Londoners above all other Londoners come to be so poetic? There's the ryhyming slang or course and terms like clock and peculiar things like calling everyone "Jon", "Alright Jon?"

: : : I'm sure there must be historical reasons. I'm currently reading An Autobiography of London by Peter Ackroyd. My only surmise is that the fact that the East End is a very old part of London - but is there anything more to it than that?

: : I was under the impression that rhyming slang arose, as with many other types of argot, as a deliberate means of communicating with one's fellow locals, whilst excluding outsiders who might be present at the same time, presumably to gain some kind of advantage. So, effectively a type of "thieves' cant" - not that I'm suggesting that inhabitants of the East End of London are uniformly vliiainous. I'm sure that somewhere there must be a few saintly souls... :)

: They are really hard to understand anyway. In another life, Word Camel worked in an East End pub where she outraged the regulars by serving them bizarre mixtures of lime and stout because that's what it sounded like they were saying. (Even after they repeated it slowly) ;)

1. What WERE they saying?
2. There are other examples of poverty-stricken or otherwise totem-pole-bottom groups developing their own slang, even creating something close to an art form out of language, one of the few materials available to them.