Cockney rhyming slang "dying out"

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It’s always seemed too cute to be true, like something they just do for tourists.


What do all these phrases mean? I’ve not got a Scooby.


No need for Navajo or Swahili codetalkers. Just put your code in Cockney rhyming slang and it’s basically secure even if it’s sort of in English.


I’ve only ever heard “Scooby” (in that sense) in Scotland, and I’ve only ever come across “Chalfonts” in the pages of Viz (Geordie Rhyming Slang)?

This reminds me of a story I heard on NPR yesterday, about a version of Turkish that’s whistled - but it, too, is dying out:

Does formal, state run education and mass media contribute to linguistic things like this dying out?

I had no idea that the use of “dogs” for feet had its origin as cockney rhyming slang…

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Actual rhyming slang has been dead for decades apart form a few conventional phrase like “have a butcher’s” for “have a look”. The original point was that the rhyme was omitted. What people think of as rhyming slang now rather misses the point.

Apples equals stairs because the omitted pears of “Apples and pears” rhymes with stairs. And berk used to be significantly more offensive than it is now because berk is short for Berkeley and the rhyming word was hunt. This is actually explained on Wikipedia:

as in the example used by purplecat above…

They do this in La Gomera too, although at least in that case it’s an approximation of the sounds of whatever language you want to speak rather than a language in itself - each whistle could be three or four sounds, and you get the meaning from context. You can get an idea of how it works here:

It’s dying out to some extent, but the government is working to preserve it - they have classes in school where all the kids call and respond to each other, or give instructions to someone standing on the other side of the square. Mobile phones have taken away the value of being able to call out to someone outside of hearing range, but people are proud to have this part of their culture and it’s not difficult to learn. I want to get some others to learn too; it must be useful for hiking if you’re out of mobile phone range and get lost.

If it wasn’t already dead by then, this must have been what killed it:


When I was young, there was a neighbor who was from England. She had a loverly English lilt. Once, her brother came to visit and he was pure Cockney. Most of the time, I had absolutely no feckin’ idea what the bloke was sayin’.


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