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Posted by Barney on April 19, 2001

In Reply to: Cockney posted by Gary Martin on April 19, 2001

: : : : Why are those born within the sound of Bow Bells, London called Cockneys?
: : : : Is it with reference to the Cocks Egg?

: : : From Merriam Webster:

: : : One entry found for cockney.
: : :

: : : Main Entry: cock·ney
: : : Pronunciation: 'käk-nE
: : : Function: noun
: : : Inflected Form(s): plural cockneys
: : : Etymology: Middle English cokeney, literally, cocks' egg, from coken (genitive plural of cok cock) + ey egg, from Old English [AE]g
: : : Date: 14th century
: : : 1 obsolete a : a spoiled child b : a squeamish woman
: : : 2 often capitalized a : a native of London and especially of the East End of London b : the dialect of London or of the East End of London
: : : - cockney adjective
: : : - cock·ney·fy /'käk-ni-"fI/ transitive verb
: : : - cock·ney·ish /-nE-ish/ adjective
: : : - cock·ney·ism /-"i-z&m/ noun

: : Can someone explain to a foreigner whether "Cockney" is an insult these days? Its history, set forth in the Oxford English Dictionary, shows that it was a derisive term when first applied to Londoners--but people don't seem to mind calling themselves Cockneys.

: You would need to know about England's north/south divide to pick up some of the nuances of that. In general terms northerners, i.e. anyone north of Watford, despise and pity southerners and vice versa - 'London gits' and 'Northern bastards' respectively. My Londoner relatives sometimes call themselves cockneys when visiting us 'up north', in the manner of hippies calling themselves freaks; i.e. they don't mind doing it themselves ironically but wouldn't like it from anyone else.

: According to our revered leader the north/south divide doesn't exist so I've probably imagined all that.

: Gary

As someone from 'south of Watford' can I say that I don't subscribe to a 'divided' view of this tiny island. I wish the revered leader (may the spin doctors attend his every need) would spend some of his surplus billions introducing training for cockneys and all those whose speech includes so many colloquial and mispronounced words that they may as well be speaking Welsh as far as I, and 95% of the rest of the English speaking world, are concerned.

Did I really say all that - my word!