LONDON (Reuters) - Would you Adam and Eve it? Cockney rhyming slang is brown bread.
According to a survey, the famous lingo which developed in the working class east end of London in the 19th century is on its way out and now leaves even those brought up in the British capital scratching their “loaf of bread” (head).
From the likes of “apples and pears” (stairs) to “trouble and strife” (wife) and “bacon and eggs” (legs), the slang language is being replaced by a new youth version linked to mobile phone and internet text speak.
The Museum of London quizzed 2,000 Britons, including half from the capital itself, and found many did not understand phrases such as donkey’s ears (years) or deep fat friar (liar) while even fewer used them.
“Porky pies” (lies) was the most commonly used expression but only 13 percent said they had uttered it recently.
“Portrayals of Cockney Londoners from (Charles) Dickens’s novels to (TV soap) ‘East Enders’ characters have popularized the London Cockney,” said Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the museum.
“However this research suggests that the Cockney dialect itself may not be enjoying the same level of popularity.”
The survey found that “awesome” was the top of the modern slang phrases, with the top 10 also featuring “oh em jee” (OMG), “epic fail” and “innit”.
Despite the findings, language experts said reports of the slang’s demise might be a bit premature and new rhyming phrases were still being invented by users, including “Simon Cowell” (towel) and “Catherine Zeta Jones” (moans).
“In my files I’ve seen in the last two or three years slang such as ‘he was wearing his Barack Obamas’, meaning pyjamas,” David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at Bangor University, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“So while it might be true that Cockney slang may be dying out it’s worth pointing out that whatever started our impulse to rhyme words is still with us today.”
For anyone baffled, this story’s introduction translates as “Would you believe it? Cockney rhyming slang is dead”.
Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Paul Casciato