Can you please help me with this?

KZY   Friday, December 03, 2004, 16:04 GMT
I recently read a book about accents of English and I came up with a couple of questions. It`s about Cockney. The book says that "a Cockney originally meant someome born within the sound of Bow Bells". However things have changed and I`m sure this can`t be literally true today. I`ve been trying to find some famous Cockneys on internet and came across some people saying David Beckham has a Cockney accent but I also found some people saying he speaks Estuary English. I`m very confused. I thought EE and Cockney were defferent and EE was more like between Cockney and RP. I know EE shares some features with a Cockney accent but I`m wondering if these accents are as close as native Enlish speakers have a defferent opinion on who is which, which is who??
My first question is, How do you define who is Cockney, who is not?? I`d like to know the new difinition of Cockney.

I found Rhyming slang very interesting. As far as I check some some websites it`s very preverent over there but I`d like to hear from people for sure. Do people actually use it? or is it still used by only Cockney people?, which is my second question.

Thank you.
Danny   Saturday, December 04, 2004, 10:43 GMT
The traditional idea is that a Cockney is someone who was born within the sound of Bow Bells, as you say (St Mary le Bow church being near Blackfriars). Nowadays though, people tend to call anybody with an East London (working-class) accent a Cockney.

Estuary English describes features of a Cockney London accent that have either spread to other geographical areas (like Cambridge or Reading), or have been integrated into accents of the traditional upper and middle classes: so, someone who goes to a prestigious public (i.e. private) school might very speak a kind of Estuary English. Some people say that even Tony Blair and Prince Edward have to tried to make their speech more Estuary - but I don't think anybody apart from the upper echelons of British society would recognize this.

I suppose another key difference of EE and Cockney is that EE follows standard grammatical patterns where Cockney will have its own forms. So, in EE you'd say "I don't know anything about it" (glottal stop at the end of 'about'; the 't' in 'anything' possibly an 'f') where you'd probably say in Cockney "I don't know nothing about it ('nothing' pronounced as 'nuffin' and a glottal stop at the end of 'about').

It's also important to know that the sounds of Estuary English are a moderated or watered-down form of Cockney.

The idea in the current literature is that Estuary English will replace RP as the standard model of pronunciation for South East England. This does however raise the ire of the conservatives who see it as a base form of speech or, as Gillian Shepherd put it, 'a bastardized form of Cockney.'

The terms themselves are also losing their distinctiveness which is probably why you were getting confused. What I've outlined above is the traditional distinction between the two varieties.

As for David Beckham, for most people from outside London, he's got a Cockney accent. But, just in case he wasn't born in Cheapside, and in order not to offend purists, you'd be right to say he's got a working-class London accent. Technically, he doesn't speak EE but, as I say, the distinction is breaking down.

If you're interested in this, there's evidence from lots of European societies that the upper classes imitate the speech forms of the working classes: the current King of Spain (Juan Carlos I) pronounces the Spanish word "pasado" as "pasau" (completely taking out the 'd' as the woking class often do). So this is something to keep in mind when you hear conservative invective directed at Eton school boys who ask for 'bu?er' (glottal stop) from matron and not 'butter'.

Hope this helps.
KZY   Sunday, December 05, 2004, 07:18 GMT
Thank you for the detailed explanation, Danny. That was very helpfull. Since I`m not an English speaking person I can`t really be sure who speaks what accent on my own and I thought the best way to get accurate information would be asking someone from England. I think I need to train my ears. Thanks again!

Does anyone know anything about Rhyming Slang? To my knowledge a couple of the slangs like "Bread" and "Barney", which come from "Bread and honey" and "Barney rubble", are famous enough to be used by people without being known, even my dictionary says they mean "money" and "fight" without mentioning Rhymig Slang. But just out of curiosity, do people use other slangs as well??

Thanks in advance.
Damian   Sunday, December 05, 2004, 09:31 GMT
Aye, Tony does lapse into Estuary when the occasion suits him. Being a politiciam he is a natural born opportunist..know wha' I mean, like? Bless! ;-)

Edward uses EE because he mixes with the rest of us a lot as he runs his own arty business. I won't mention the name in case I get accused of giving a cheap plug, but he is very ardent in his endeavours...much nice than being in the Royal Marines.

I think Becks is an Essex boy, from Romford or somewhere round that way.

KZY...there is a site on Cockney Rhyming Slang.....I'll look it up and post the link. From instant memory, these are for starters:

Mince pies.............eyes
Trouble and strife............wife
Apples and Pears...........stairs
Plates of meat.........feet

As in every country I reckon, various regions have their own slang terms. Liverpool is a good example....their local patter is called Scouse as you may well know. For some reason they have a lot of words for the police or police officers! Liverpool seems to have produced more professional comedians than any other British city, the reason being that at one time you had to have a sense of humour to live there! I think it's only in Scouseland where they call a copper a "busy" or "bizzy". In London they are sometimes called, among other things, "woodentops" because of the helmets.
Damian   Sunday, December 05, 2004, 17:21 GMT

'Ere....try this one, mate, and get ya mince pies rahnd this one:

If ya got a spare bit of Arthur Ashe you can nip straight rahnd to the old Battle Cruiser for a bit of a Tiddly Wink and sup straight aht of the Aristotle like the rest of 'em, then get yaself back to the old trouble and strife for a bit of Tommy Tucker.

Well, you did ask......
KZY   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 05:50 GMT
Thanks you, Damian! Untill I went to the great Wind and Kite you let me know I had no idea what you were talking about! But this is what this is for!