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Part 1. London dialect in the development of the English language
Part 2. London dialect contribution in standardization of English
Part 3. Contemporary London dialect – Cockney.
… If they wos a pair o' patent double million magnifyin' gas microscopes of hextra power, p'raps I might be able to see through a flight o' stairs and a deal door; but bein' only eyes, you see, my wision's limited’ (ch. 34).Walker, however, provides the proof that Sam's style of speech existed well before Dickens created him, but it appears to have been in decline when Dickens made it a literary stereotype, and had virtually disappeared by the 1870s, as noted by Shaw in an appendix to Captain Brassbound's Conversion (1900):When I came to London in 1876, the Sam Weller dialect had passed away so completely that I should have given it up as a literary fiction if I had not discovered it surviving in a Middlesex village, and heard of it from an Essex one. Some time in the eighties the late Alexander Tuer called attention in the Pall Mall Gazette to several peculiarities of modern cockney, and to the obsolescence of the Dickens dialect that was still being copied from book to book by authors who never dreamt of using their ears, much less of training them to listen.
Currently, the term Cockney is applied to usage in the London area in a fairly free and easy way. There are, however, two broad perceptions: (1) That it is a range of usage centred on the East End of London, with fringe forms that shade out into the counties around the city, especially among the young. Here, the term refers to a widely diffused variety of working-class speech in south-eastern England. (2) That, in sociolinguistic terms, it is the basileck in a range of usages in which standard English with an RP accent is the acrolect. Here, Cockney is the core of working-class London speech and is not properly applied to the mesolects of the area, which may however have Cockney-like features. Whichever viewpoint is chosen, degrees of Cockneyhood are commonly perceived in the London area, according to such factors as class, social aspirations, locality, and education. The association with Bow bells is sometimes mentioned by inner Londoners with nostalgia. Few babies are now born near the Church of St Mary-le-Bow, and many who have in the past been born within the sound of its bells could never, because of their social class, have been Cockneys, except ironically. Cockney has long been associated with the East End and the inner suburbs of east London: Aldgate, Bethnal Green, Bow, Hackney, Limehouse, Mile End, Old Ford, Poplar, Shoreditch, Stepney, Wapping, and Whitechapel. Core Cockney is distinct from working-class usage south of the Thames in Bermondsey, Southwark, and Walworth. Like many varieties of English, it is most easily identified through its extreme forms. Like other stigmatized urban dialects, such as Brooklyn (New York), Glasgow, and Scouse (Liverpool), it is vigorous and influential, but generally viewed by both its speakers and outsiders as a liability for the upwardly mobile.
The following features contribute to core Cockney speech: (1) F and V. Cockney differs from all other varieties of English in having /f/ for , as in ‘firty fahsn’ thirty thousand. This is matched medially by /v/ for /ð/, as in ‘bovver’ bother, ‘muvver’ mother. Initially, the sound is closer to /ð/ in such words as this, these, but pronunciations like ‘vis’ and ‘vese’ can be heard. Everything, nothing, something are pronounced ‘evryfink’, ‘nuffink’, ‘sumfink’. A shibboleth for the f/v usage is Firty fahsn fevvers on a frush's froat. (2) H-dropping. Like many varieties of English in England, Cockney has no initial /h/ in words like house (Nobody lives in them ouses now), but sometimes adds /h/ for emphasis or as hypercorrection before initial vowels, as with ‘hever’ for ever (Did you hever see the like?). (3) Diphthongs. Cockney is well known for the elongation of its vowel sounds, often represented in print by several vowels together, as in Shaw's ‘daownt’ for don't. Distinctive diphthongs include /əi/ for RP /iː/ in beet/seat, /ai/ for RP /eɪ/ in fate/great, /ɒɪ/ for RP /aɪ/ in high/why. Conversely, the monophthong /a/ serves where RP has the diphthong /aʊ/ in about ‘abaht’, thousand ‘fahsn’. (4) The glottal stop.
Use of the glottal stop for medial and final /t/, /kt/, and /k/, as in but, butter, hectic, technical (‘tetnical’), and a glottalized /tʃ/, as in actually (‘atshelly’). (5) Linking R. There is no postvocalic /r/ in Cockney, which like RP is non-rhotic: ‘cah’ for car, ‘cahd’ for card. Cockney shares the linking r used generally in south-east England, as in ‘draw/r/ing room’ for drawing room, ‘Shah/r of Persia’ for Shah of Persia:. (6) Syllable-final /l/ is vocalized as /w/: ‘tewwim’ for tell him:.
The grammar of Cockney is by and large ‘general nonstandard’, with such usages as double negation (There aint nuffink like it There is nothing like it) and done and seen for did and saw (I done it yesterday, I just seen er). (2) Question tags are widely used to invite agreement or establish one's position: I'm elpin you now, inneye? I am helping you now, ain't I?—although I may not have helped you before or wanted in fact to help you at all; Well, e knew all abaht it, dinnee? Well, he knew all about it, didn't he?—Because he knew all about it, it's not surprising he did what he did. (3) The prepositions to and at are frequently dropped in relation to places: I'm goin down the pub I'm going down to the pub, He's round is mate's He is round at his friend's house, They're over me mum's They're over at my mother's.
Since the time of Dickens, Cockney dialogue has often been included in otherwise standard texts. A fairly consistent sub-orthography has developed for it, such as abaht about, Gawd God, larf laugh, muvver mother, orful awful, orl all, with the apostrophe used to mark absent h as in ʾabit and absent g, signalling the pronunciation of -ing as syllabic /n/, as in cuttinʾ and shoutinʾ. Writers generally use just enough for flavour, along with typical expressions and a cocky, cheeky, or cheerful style, as in Rudyard Kipling's The 'Eathen (1892).
A striking aspect of Cockney, especially when compared with RP, is its effusive range of tone and emotion. Barltrop and Wolveridge comment:The East Londoner likes his utterances to be attention-catching whether they are plaintive, indignant, gloomy or humorous … Nagging, anecdote, giving opinions and even greeting a friend in the street are done with the same mobility of voice, to squeeze the utmost meaning out of them, and it is noticeable in ordinary conversation.
The devices of vigorous delivery include a wide range of tones, emphatic loudness, strong facial expression, and vigorous body language. There is in particular pitch prominence on content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) and their vowels are often stretched, as in You ought to ave SEEEEN it—it was ever so GOOOOD. In tandem, Cockneys are generally more uninhibited socially (laughing loudly, complaining vigorously) than middleclass Londoners, a feature which may have been influenced by Gypsies, Jews, and Irish in the East End.
Probably the best-known and most-discussed usage is Cockney rhyming SLANG, as in Would you Adam and Eve it? Would you believe it?, and They had a bit of a bull and a cow a row. It may have originated in thieves' cant, but its history is unclear and there is little evidence that it was ever widespread or extensive enough to be a code in its own right. If it was once so used by traders, entertainers, thieves, and others, the secret has been well kept. Such word-play was a fashionable game in the West End of London in the 1930s, and during and after the Second World War was disseminated by the media. Many of its usages have been spread by television: Brahms and Liszt pissed, drunk, in the 1970s TV comedy series Steptoe and Son, which also used berk, a clipping of Berkeley/Berkshire Hunt a cunt (whose first OED citation is 1936). Several rhymes for the same word may compete: tea is both Rosy Lea and you and me. Bristol Cities (titties) may have been media-inspired, traditional Cockney being Manchester Cities or threepenny bits (tits). Such slang has contributed to informal BrE at large such usages as cobblers, as an expression of scepticism from cobblers' awls balls, testicles, butchers from butcher's hook a look, Jimmy Riddle a piddle (an act of urinating), rabbit on for talking all the time, from rabbit and pork talk, raspberry for a derisive blowing sound with the lips (apparently from raspberry tart fart).
Cockney slang includes: (1) Words from ROMANI: chavvy a child, mush a mate, buddy, put the mockers on to jinx. (2) Words from yiddish: gezumph/gazump to swindle, schemozzle a disturbance, schlemiel a fool. (3) minced oaths and euphemisms, especially relating to God: Blimey God blind me, Cor God, as in Cor stone the crows, Gordon Bennett (the name of an early 20c car-racing promoter) God. (4) Forces slang picked up in Asia: ackers money (probably from arabic fakka small change), bint a girl (Arabic), cushy soft, easy, as in a cushy billet an easy job (from Hindi khush pleasure), dekko a look (from the hindi imperative dekho look); shufti a look (Arabic), doolally (mad, from Deolali, a town in India where a British Forces mental hospital was located). (5) abbreviations, sometimes with -o added (compare AusE slang): aggro aggravation (= aggression), rarzo a red nose (short for raspberry). (6) backsleng: yob a boy, sometimes in the form yobbo. (7) Usage with run-together phrases that sound like, and are often written as, single words: Gawdelpus God help us, Geddoudovit Get out of it, Gorblimey originally ‘God blind me’, Wotcha/Wotcher What cheer (a once widespread greeting). Because of wartime contacts, National Service after the Second World War, and the media, many of these expressions are understood and often used throughout Britain.
Core Cockney, fringe Cockney, and their neighbouring forms make up the most prominent and widely spoken urban dialect in Britain. It rests on an ancient working-class tradition and has had considerable media influence on BrE usage at large, especially in the London-based tabloid newspapers, and in radio and TV popular entertainment, such as the current BBC soap opera EastEnders. It remains, however, a stigmatized variety that attracts little academic attention and is often regarded as quaint and amusing. Barltrop and Wolveridge note:We wanted to write for Cockneys as much as about them. The language is constantly shown as picturesque or comic, and almost invariably as inferior; it is taken for granted as coming from a people who do not know any better. We hope to persuade Cockneys as well as others that it is more than the equal of any other form of speech. … The Cockney does not have to define class—it defines him. While East Londoners are defined by the social system as are all other working people, they are resentful of it in a resigned sort of way and strongly conscious of ‘Them and Us’. … Thus, speaking well—‘talking posh’—does not make a great impression; it smacks of being the enemy's language.The Cockneys share such sentiments with users of other working-class varieties that grew up with the Industrial Revolution. Like speakers of Scouse and Gutter Glasgow, they are embattled and often thumb a linguistic nose at the rest of the world. Cockneys have faced an extra stigma because they have often been seen as letting London down. Paradoxically, they are at the same time invoked with affection as a key element in defining the city.
Thus, the current research work has proved the peculiarity of the language which has been developing in London area as a specific dialectal form which has influenced the formation of standard English as well as it presents some features of the present day English which exists in London being recognized as Cockney.
Barber, Charles L., 1993. The English Language: a historical introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bourcier, Georges 1981. An introduction to the history of the English language. Trans. and adapted by C. Clark. Cheltenham: Thornes.
Carter, Ronald, 1990. Language in the National Curriculum. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Coates, Jennifer, 1998. Language and Gender: a reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
Crystal, David, 1995. Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Crystal, David, 1996. Rediscover Grammar, 2nd ed. London: Longman.
Fisher, John H. 1977. ‘Chancery and the emergence of Standard English’, Speculum, 52: 870-99.
Fisher, John H. 1996. The Emergence of Standard English. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.
Freeborn, Dennis, 1992. From Old English to Standard English. London: Macmillan.
Freeborn, Dennis, 1993. Varieties of English, 2nd ed. Basingstoke (Hants): Macmillan.
Graddol, David, Dick Leith and Joan Swann, 1996. English: history, diversity and change. London: Routledge.
Hogg, Richard M., 1992. The Cambridge History of the English Language. Cambridge: C.U.P.
Lass, Roger, 1987. The Shape of English. London: Dent.
Leith, Dick 1997 . A social history of English. 2nd edition. London: Routledge.
Milroy, James and Lesley Milroy, 1985. Authority in Language. London: Routledge Kegan Paul.
Milroy, James and Lesley Milroy, 1993. Real English: the grammar of English dialects in the British Isles.
Quirk, Randolph, 1982. Style and Communication in the English Language. London: Edward Arnold.
Samuels, Michael L. 1972. Linguistic evolution with special reference to English. Cambridge: University Press.
Smith, Jeremy J., 1996. An Historical Study of English. London: Routledge.
Strang, Barbara 1970. A history of English. London: Methuen.
Strang, Barbara Mary Hope, 1970. A History of English. London: Methuen.
Trudgill, Peter, 1999. The Dialects of England, 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wakelin, Martyn 1977. English dialects. An introduction. 2nd edition. London: Athlone Press
Wells, John, 1982. Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1.Barber, Charles L., 1993. The English Language: a historical introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2.Bourcier, Georges 1981. An introduction to the history of the English language. Trans. and adapted by C. Clark. Cheltenham: Thornes.
3.Carter, Ronald, 1990. Language in the National Curriculum. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
4.Coates, Jennifer, 1998. Language and Gender: a reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
5.Crystal, David, 1995. Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
6.Crystal, David, 1996. Rediscover Grammar, 2nd ed. London: Longman.
7.Fisher, John H. 1977. ‘Chancery and the emergence of Standard English’, Speculum, 52: 870-99.
8.Fisher, John H. 1996. The Emergence of Standard English. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.
9.Freeborn, Dennis, 1992. From Old English to Standard English. London: Macmillan.
10.Freeborn, Dennis, 1993. Varieties of English, 2nd ed. Basingstoke (Hants): Macmillan.
11.Graddol, David, Dick Leith and Joan Swann, 1996. English: history, diversity and change. London: Routledge.
12.Hogg, Richard M., 1992. The Cambridge History of the English Language. Cambridge: C.U.P.
13.Lass, Roger, 1987. The Shape of English. London: Dent.
14.Leith, Dick 1997 . A social history of English. 2nd edition. London: Routledge.
15.Milroy, James and Lesley Milroy, 1985. Authority in Language. London: Routledge Kegan Paul.
16.Milroy, James and Lesley Milroy, 1993. Real English: the grammar of English dialects in the British Isles.
17.Quirk, Randolph, 1982. Style and Communication in the English Language. London: Edward Arnold.
18.Samuels, Michael L. 1972. Linguistic evolution with special reference to English. Cambridge: University Press.
19.Smith, Jeremy J., 1996. An Historical Study of English. London: Routledge.
20.Strang, Barbara 1970. A history of English. London: Methuen.
21.Strang, Barbara Mary Hope, 1970. A History of English. London: Methuen.
22.Trudgill, Peter, 1999. The Dialects of England, 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell.
23.Wakelin, Martyn 1977. English dialects. An introduction. 2nd edition. London: Athlone Press
24.Wells, John, 1982. Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.