Monday, November 06, 2006

Rhyming slang goes a bit Pete Tong

Rhyming slang is changing to include more up to date references to celebrities such as 1990s dance DJ Pete Tong, cartoon heroes Wallace and Gromit and Prime Minister Tony Blair. That's what a new Collins guide, Shame about the Boat Race claims. Cormac McKeown, a Collins editor states:
A lot of the celebrities in rhyming slang 100 years ago would have been music hall stars who would have been very famous but only in the confines of the London area. Now it's opened up with figures from around the world, such as Britney Spears. Much of the new rhyming slang is pretty coarse, revolving around drinking (Paul Weller/Stella; Winona Ryder/cider) and bodily functions (Wallace and Gromit/vomit).
And, as he goes on to say, rhyming slang (like lots of other forms of slang) has always been about hiding what you really want to say from unwanted listeners:
Its purpose has always been to disguise and spare blushes. In the past there were lots of racial slurs which were hidden by rhyming slang. Now it's fairly tongue-in-cheek and it's got a register of its own. People are often being ironic when they use it.
To find out more about Cockney Rhyming Slang have a look here or in one of the great books on slang in the library.

But more importantly, to win this week's Haribo prize, just answer this simple Cockney Conundrum: if I'm off down the fatboy to get Brad Pitt, what am I really doing? Post your answers as comments below and join the ranks of winners...

Useful for:
ENA1 Language & Representation
ENA5 Language Change

Getting the Word Out 2022

WOTY (Word of the Year) Season is in full swing and the lists from the various dictionaries and organisations who produce them, along with t...