Cockney rhyming slang could be wiped out in 20 years

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A report by Absolute Translations says that the growing multi ethnicity of London could see Cockney rhyming slang replaced by a new dialect in 20 years, as youngsters develop their own dialect.
Sergio Afonso, a linguistics expert at Absolute Translations, told My London that Multicultural London English or MLE has been on the rise since the 80’s with its usage increasing across the city, resulting in less and less use of Cockney. That he says could see the dialect wiped out before long.
He told MyLondon: “The cause of different dialects is linguistic change. MLE has been around since the early 1980s in areas of London which has high levels of immigration.
“The rise of dialect has now happened because of the nature of trends, with the popularity of apps such as TikTok, different accents and pronunciation are naturally internalised in order to adapt to a change in cultural setting. The broad landscape of London, and the nationalities it houses, means that MLE will continue to develop and grow amongst younger generations.”
In research conducted by David Adger, David Hall and Jenny Cheshire it was found that “linguistic diversity means that the local London vernacular is no longer the main English variety that children encounter at school.”
They use the example of the friendship groups in the Hackney projects that include five year olds with parents from the Caribbean, several different African countries, Bangladesh, India, Morocco, China, Colombia, Portugal, Albania, Turkey and the Middle East, as well as from local Cockney families.
The English spoken by children from such diverse backgrounds is very varied. Words such as ‘gassed (excited)’, ‘dead (boring)’, ‘moist (soft/uncool)’ have made their way into the common vocabulary.
MyLondon spoke to Fiza Ali, a Race and Diversity Correspondent for My London and a 20-year-old British Indian who was born and brought up near Central London. Fiza grew up with friends from different backgrounds surrounded by kids who did not grow up in households where their parents could speak proper English.
She said: “They would shorten their sentences and say things like ‘come shop’. My Turkish friends, their parents who spoke broken English would say stuff like ‘I’m gonna go next to my mum’ which just means ‘I’m gonna go to my mum’.
“Because everyone was learning English from parents with broken English, they kind of involved that in their day to day, and then other kids around them – me for example – I would say it the same way thinking oh maybe that’s the cool way of saying it. I think that’s how it starts, even saying ‘come shop’ for me started with black friends from Post-Colonial countries, the English they speak in their countries include shortened words, so I think kids use it here.
“And then us lot who rate these kids, start learning from them. I also noticed different ethnicities have their own slang, the way they pronounce some words.”
The inevitable is happening as ethnic diversity in the City of London grows so the culture and the language will change as it has before, however many will mourn the loss of Cockney rhyming slang should it disappear, be wiped out.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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