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Celeb culture 'reinventing' cockney rhyming slang.

London, July 6 ( ANI ): Our insatiable fascination with celebrities is helping reinvent the cockney rhyming slang, an ancient argot that many language experts feared was dying out.

Our eagerness to drag stars into every conversation has provoked a surge in rhymes based on famous names, the Daily Mail reported.

The clear sign that celeb-slang, or 'popney' (popular Cockney), has reached every layer of British society can be seen in the new TV advert, aimed at children, for a snack food (Mattessons Fridge Raiders) with the slogan 'for when you're Hank Marvin'.

The craze has even reached the boardroom, where senior execs are said to be 'in a Ronan Keating at the moment' - which is nothing to do with the Irish pop singer, but does mean they're in a meeting.

It used to be said a true Cockney was born within earshot of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church. But the deafening roar of road and air traffic, and proliferation of high-rise buildings in the City of London, have deadened the sound of the Bow Bells.

For years the bells could be heard four miles to the east in Leyton, and two miles west in Bloomsbury. But a survey last week by acoustic experts revealed the chimes can now barely be heard ten minutes' walk away, in Shoreditch. And there are no maternity wards within hearing distance, which means this generation of young Cockneys could be the last.

Now, the influx of American and West Indian street slang, sometimes called 'Jafaican' (fake Jamaican), and the rise of texting mean you're more likely to hear London schoolchildren say 'oh my days' (a Caribbean expression) or 'lol' (laugh out loud) instead of 'cor blimey' or 'you're 'aving a giraffe' (laugh).

Cockney rhyming slang began to be used in the 18th century as a kind of thieves' cant or secret code. Many Cockney words were coined in the criminal underworld, often as garbled versions of other languages. Scarper comes from the Italian 'scappare', meaning to escape, for example.

And copper, as in policeman, came from a Cumbrian Lake District word, 'cop', which meant a prison - from the northern way of saying 'coop', as in hen-house.

London thieves borrowed their codewords from far and wide, raiding Romany (mush, or 'mate', is a gypsy word), Yiddish (gazump comes from the European Jewish word 'gezumph' or overcharge) and even Arabic ('bint' means a girl in both Clerkenwell and Cairo).

But such phrases came to be too familiar and easily deciphered by coppers. So criminals started to use language that made sense only if you knew the phrases referred to. ( ANI )


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Publication:Asian News International
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 6, 2012
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