YouTube Transcription #83 – Anglophenia

Anglophenia is a YouTube channel featuring videos talking about Britain. They aren’t very serious, sometimes very funny, and sometimes quite interesting!

It’s very long, but as she speaks “Received English”, like me, it’s very easy for me to transcribe:

Ever wondered what the Brits are rabbiting on about? Or why we love our china plates? Then join me, as we take a butchers at Cockney rhyming slang.
Hi, I’m Kate and this is Anglophenia. Now, before we start, I should clear something up: Dick Van Dyke is not a Cockney. I know, let’s just take a moment to deal with that. And I’m not just saying that because of his questionable Cockney accent as Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. As it turns out, you need much more than an accent to be a true Cockney.
What makes a Cockney?
According to tradition a true Cockney is a Londoner born within earshot of the Bow Bell at St Mary-le-Bow Church in the City Of London, on a street called Cheapside, to be precise. A hundred-and-fifty years ago the bells could be heard six miles to the east, five to the north, four to the west and three to the south, which means that a Cockney could come from Hackney Marshes, Lambeth, or even Camden. These are all very different boroughs of London, by the way. Cockney rhyming slang was originally used by street traders and criminals in the east end of London, to disguise what they were talking about. No-one really knows when it first appeared, but Cockney rhyming slang was certainly widespread by the mid-nineteenth Century. It has since escaped London and worked its way into our everyday lives, here in the UK, and most of the time we don’t even know we’re using it!
How it works
Cockney rhyming slang has a pretty straightforward formula. Simply replace the word you want to disguise with a short phrase of two or three words, with the last one rhyming with the original word. You can then shorten the phrase to omit the rhyming word, which leaves you with a sort of code. For example, the word “tea” was replaced with “Rosie Lee”. The rhyming part “Lee” is often dropped, leaving you with “Rosie”, so it’s totally normal to hear someone being offered “a cup of rosie”. Just don’t drink too many, otherwise you’ll desperate for a jimmy riddle. I’ll let you work that one out.
Other famous examples of Cockney rhyming slang include “Adam and Eve” – “believe”, “dog and bone” – “phone”, “china plates” – “mates, “apples and pears” – “stairs”, “Duke Of Kent” – “rent”. Although, ironically, he probably doesn’t have to pay any rent. And my personal favourite – “Tommy Trinder”, a comedian who was popular between 1930 and 1950, and whose name was used for “window”, or “winder“, as someone with a Cockney accent would say.
“I was ‘elpin’ one o’ me chinas clean his tommy trinders when I ‘eard the ol’ dog ‘n’ bone ringin’ upstairs. I ran up the apples, picked it up, and would you adam ‘n’ eve it, it was only the bleedin’ landlord askin’ for ‘is duke of kent!”
Rabbit
Most Brits will understand that to rabbit on about something means to talk a lot about it, but many of us don’t know why it means that. Well, it comes from the Cockney rhyming phrase “rabbit and pork”, meaning “talk”.
Porkies
“Pork pies” is Cockney for “lies”. So if you’ve told someone a lie, you’re telling porkies. It’s true, I promise.
Barnet
“Barnet” is what we might use when talking about someone’s hairstyle, but again, many of us don’t know that it comes from “Barnet fair”, a famous horse fair in Barnet, which, yes you guessed it, rhymes with “hair”. Simple, right? Well, maybe not. Whilst the majority of Cockney rhyming slang is based on obvious, if not somewhat peculiar, rhymes, there are always a few exceptions.
Bags Of Mystery
“Bags of mystery” is a popular example of non-rhyming Cockney slang, and is used for “sausages”. It kind of leaves you wondering which unusual parts of the animal may have been used to make that good old-fashioned banger you’re about to eat, so let’s not dwell on that for too long!
Porridge
Porridge is what we Brits call oatmeal, but “doing porridge” is a cockney phrase for “doing time in prison”, and is inspired by porridge being the standard breakfast for inmates. “Porridge” was the name of a popular British sitcom set in prison, which ran on the BBC in the mid-70s.
Other TV show which continued to bring a sprinkle of Cockney rhyming slang to their audiences were “Only Fools And Horses” and “Steptoe And Son”.
Modern day Cockney
Due to more traffic noise and large buildings muffling the sound of the Bow Bells, the Cockney catchment are is smaller than before, but Cockney rhyming slang is still alive and well, and nowadays you don’t even need to be a Cockney to come up with new phrases. They seem to come from all sorts of places. New Cockney phrases are mostly influenced by names of celebrities, so the next time you are in a bar you could order a couple of “britney spears” instead of “beers”. see? She really was born to make you happy. Or should that be “merry”?
If everything is going a bit wrong you could say “Oh, it’s all gone a bit pete tong.” Pete Tong is a well-known BBC Radio 1 DJ.
Feeling a little confused? Then you don’t have a scooby. That’s right. Everyone’s favourite talking dog detective Scooby Do is the modern day Cockney rhyming slang for “not having a clue”. This might also have meaning beyond a simple rhyme. I mean, let’s face it – Scooby rarely had a clue what was going on half the time unless a Scooby-snack was involved.
I’ve been rabbiting on about Cockney rhyming slang all this time, and I haven’t even asked you if you have a favourite. Let us know in the comments. Remember, you can follow us on Twitter, and like our Facebook page, too. Thanks for watching.

Explanation:
(Have you) Ever wondered what the Brits are rabbiting on about? (talking about) Or why we love our china plates? (mates, friends) Then join me, as we take a butchers (take a look) at Cockney rhyming slang.
Hi, I’m Kate and this is Anglophenia. Now, before we start, I should clear something up: Dick Van Dyke is not a Cockney. I know (I know what you’re thinking/feeling now), let’s just take a moment to deal with that. And I’m not just saying that because of his questionable (poor) Cockney accent as Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. As it turns out (actually, as a matter of fact), you need much more than an accent to be a true Cockney.
What makes a Cockney?
According to tradition a true Cockney is a Londoner born within earshot of the Bow Bells at St Mary-le-Bow Church in the City Of London (City Of London is an area of London, containing the financial district), on a street called Cheapside, to be precise. A hundred-and-fifty years ago the bells could be heard six miles to the east, five to the north, four to the west and three to the south, which means that a Cockney could come from Hackney Marshes, Lambeth, or even Camden. These are all very different boroughs (districts) of London, by the way. Cockney rhyming slang was originally used by street traders and criminals in the east end of London, to disguise what they were talking about. No-one really knows when it first appeared, but Cockney rhyming slang was certainly widespread by the mid-nineteenth Century. It has since escaped London and worked its way into (become part of) our everyday lives, here in the UK, and most of the time we don’t even know we’re using it!
How it works
Cockney rhyming slang has a pretty straightforward formula. Simply replace the word you want to disguise with a short phrase of two or three words, with the last one rhyming with the original word. You can then shorten the phrase to omit the rhyming word, which leaves you with a sort of code. For example, the word “tea” was replaced with “Rosie Lee(someone’s name). The rhyming part “Lee” is often dropped, leaving you with “Rosie”, so it’s totally normal to hear someone being offered “a cup of rosie”. Just don’t drink too many, otherwise you’ll desperate for a Jimmy Riddle. I’ll let you work that one out.
Other famous examples of Cockney rhyming slang include “Adam and Eve” – “believe”, “dog and bone” – “phone”, “china plates” – “mates, “apples and pears” – “stairs”, “Duke Of Kent” – “rent”. Although, ironically, he probably doesn’t have to pay any rent. And my personal favourite – “Tommy Trinder”, a comedian who was popular between 1930 and 1950, and whose name was used for “window”, or “winder“, as someone with a Cockney accent would say.
“I was ‘elpin’ (helping) one o’ (of) me (my) chinas (mates, friends) clean his trinders (windows) when I ‘eard (heard) the ol’ (old, used for something very familiar) dog ‘n’ (and) bone (phone) ringin’ (ringing) upstairs. I ran up the apples (stairs), picked it up, and would you adam ‘n’ eve (believe) it, it was only the bleedin’ (bleeding, a mild expletive) landlord askin’ (asking) for ‘is (his) duke of kent (rent)!”
Rabbit
Most Brits (Britons, British people) will understand that to rabbit on about something means to talk a lot about it, but many of us don’t know why it means that. Well, it comes from the Cockney rhyming phrase “rabbit and pork”, meaning “talk”.
Porkies
“Pork pies” is Cockney for “lies”. So if you’ve told someone a lie, you’re telling porkies. It’s true, I promise.
Barnet
“Barnet” is what we might use when talking about someone’s hairstyle, but again, many of us don’t know that it comes from “Barnet fair”, a famous horse fair in Barnet, which, yes you guessed it, rhymes with “hair”. Simple, right? Well, maybe not. Whilst the majority of Cockney rhyming slang is based on obvious, if not somewhat peculiar, rhymes, there are always a few exceptions.
Bags Of Mystery
“Bags of mystery” is a popular example of non-rhyming Cockney slang, and is used for “sausages”. It kind of leaves you wondering which unusual parts of the animal may have been used to make that good old-fashioned banger (sausage) you’re about to eat, so let’s not dwell on that for too long!
Porridge
Porridge is what we Brits call oatmeal, but “doing porridge” is a cockney phrase for “doing time in prison”, and is inspired by porridge being the standard breakfast for inmates. “Porridge” was the name of a popular British sitcom set in prison, which ran on the BBC in the mid-70s.
Other TV shows which continued to bring a sprinkle of (little) Cockney rhyming slang to their audiences were “Only Fools And Horses” and “Steptoe And Son”.
Modern Day Cockney
Due to more traffic noise and large buildings muffling the sound of the Bow Bells, the Cockney catchment are is smaller than before, but Cockney rhyming slang is still alive and well, and nowadays you don’t even need to be a Cockney to come up with (invent) new phrases. They seem to come from all sorts of places. New Cockney phrases are mostly influenced by names of celebrities, so the next time you are in a bar you could order a couple of “britney spears” instead of “beers”. See? She really was born to make you happy. Or should that be “merry“? (merry sometimes means “drunk”)
If everything is going a bit wrong you could say “Oh, it’s all gone a bit pete tong.” Pete Tong is a well-known BBC Radio 1 DJ.
Feeling a little confused? Then you don’t have a scooby. That’s right. Everyone’s favourite talking dog detective Scooby Do is the modern day Cockney rhyming slang for “not having a clue (not understanding). This might also have meaning beyond a simple rhyme. I mean, let’s face it – Scooby rarely had a clue what was going on half the time unless a Scooby-snack was involved.
I’ve been rabbiting on about Cockney rhyming slang all this time, and I haven’t even asked you if you have a favourite. Let us know in the comments. Remember, you can follow us on Twitter, and like our Facebook page, too. Thanks for watching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.