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Friday, November 12, 2004 


Strange Thing #18 : The rhyming game. Goes like, "[Adjective or noun] *pause* [related noun] *pause* [unrelated noun, yet rhymes with last noun]!"

It's confusing I know. It confuses the hell out of me to be sure.

Oddly enough, this was first introduced to me in the States, in the movie Ocean's 11, where Don Cheadle's character, who is British, says at one point where it looks like the caper's going astray, "We're in Barney... Rubble.... Trouble!!!" Akash always though this was hilarious, but I felt like there was something I wasn't getting. I remember the Flinstons Barney Rubble cartoon, and realize that trouble rhymes with Rubble, but it that really it?

I then heard it here on Capital Radio FM, when they had a contest about "telling porkies." Telling what? That one goes, "Porky... Pies.. Lies!" "Enough," I thought, and asked flatmate Ross. He explained it to me and said it was mainly Cockney or pub talk, and most Brits don't do it.

My first real life experience came at the pub across the street form the dorm. I was talking to Ross and an older guy came over that Ross had been talking to earlier. He was pissed, leaned over and said to Ross, "So you like talkin' to septics...." Ross and I looked at each other puzzled. "Tanks....," he continued. Still puzzled. "Yanks!" he yelled! Oh, of course, I'm a septic tank yank.

The weirdest part is that no one seems to know what the hell anyone else is talking about. But maybe that's the objective of the game? Who knows?

I don't know the full history of Cockney rhyming slang but I have heard it was maybe used by thiefs who wanted to talk in secret code in the olden days. I think more recently it has been used in a comic sense, a way to develop the vocab.

I love using it with foriegn people to confuse the hell out of them - although naturally a lot of it has embedded into our language with even thinking about it.#

Some examples:

Would you Adam and Eve it - Would you believe it?
Let's have a butchers (hook)- Let's have a look
Trouble and Strife - the wife
This has developed more recently - it's common for people to use famous names instead:-

Fancy going for a couple of Britney (Spears) - beers
Everything has gone Pete Tong - Wrong

Or what about:
What a Sand...wich...a bitch!

That song is Brad...Pitt...the shit!

I second that explanation - it was developed so the coppers couldn't understand what you were talking about.

And a word of advice on usage. Just use the slang, don't add the meaning on the end! And always shorten the slang to the part which doesn't rhyme (adds confusion to outsiders)

Talk about the septics, say I'll talk to you on the dog, love your barnet etc etc.

Shame you didn't post this before - we've just had the Lord Mayor's Show which is the most cockney event I know - all the Pearly Kings and Queens go (love them). A visit to the Museum of London might be interesting instead - you can see the Lord Mayors Coach [not to be confused with the Mayor of London].

You can buy a book on cockney rhyming slang - some of it is very obscure.

Other interesting fact about all this - to be a true cockney you have to be born within the sound of the Bow Bells.

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