To read this blog, you need to use your mince pies…

Cockney Rhyming Slang

by Stephen Andrews (単語・表現リスト by Shigeri Nishide)

No, we haven’t made a mistake in the headline above!

It might not seem to make sense, but it’s the sort of thing you might hear in London, especially if you’re visiting the East End*.

It’s an example of what’s called Cockney* Rhyming Slang – and, here, “mince pies” is rhyming slang for “eyes.”

So the sentence really means: “To read this blog, you need to use your eyes.”

Native Londoners often use slang like this in conversation, so it’s handy to know a bit more about it.

Origins

Cockney Rhyming Slang is thought to have started in 19th century London. It was a secret language for people like market traders or criminals who wanted to communicate without others knowing what they were saying.

How does it work?

A rhyming slang phrase replaces a common word with two words. The second word always rhymes* with the original word. For example, the slang expression “porky pie” means “lie”. Sometimes, though, as a shortcut, the second word isn’t used at all. So if you wanted to say someone is lying, you’d just say: “They’re telling a porky.” Similarly, “whistle and flute” is slang for “suit”. But people would only say something like: “I bought myself a stylish new whistle.”


Various types of rhyming slang

Some slang expressions are based on the names of areas of London. For example, “Hampstead Heath” means “teeth”. So after a trip to the dentist, you might say: “I’ve just had my Hampsteads cleaned”. Peckham Rye means “tie” – so if your friend has just bought an attractive tie, you could say: “That’s a colourful Peckham” and that would be a great compliment.


Other slang phrases use the names of popular personalities*. For example:

“I caught the Michael Caine* to Waterloo and managed to have a nice Meryl Streep* on the way. I arrived very Liz Hurley*, but was Hank Marvin*, so I had a Mickey Rourke* sandwich and a pint of Mick Jagger*.


Here’s the translation:

“I caught the train to Waterloo and managed to have a nice sleep on the way. I arrived very early, but was starving, so I had a pork sandwich and a pint of lager*.”

Can you speak Cockney?

Can you translate these rhyming slang sentences? It can be confusing for the beginner, so use the dictionary to help you. Next time you visit the East End of London, they might come in very useful*!

“I think you’re telling me a porky pie.”


“That’s a lovely whistle you’re wearing.”

“She applied mascara around her mince pies.”

“What’s that ringing? Is it the dog and bone?”

“I’m going up the apples and pears to bed.”


Dictionary

Porky pie – lie

Whistle – suit

Mince pies – eyes

Dog and bone – phone

Apples and pears – stairs

単語・表現リスト:

本文に説明がないもの(*がついている)

the East End: 昔あったLondon wall(今も跡がある)の東側でテムズ川の北の地域。昔、ロンドンはもっと狭かったのでthe East Endはロンドンの東の果て、the West Endはロンドンの西の果てだったのでこの名前がついたようです。

Cockney: the East End(とその辺り)出身の人。Cockney accentという独特のアクセントがある。

rhyme: 韻を踏む

personalities: personalityには「性格」以外にテレビなどに出ている有名人の意味もあります。celebrityと同じような意味です。

このブログに出てくる有名人は日本でもよく知られている人もいますが、念の為、全て簡単にご紹介します:

Michael Caine: Cockney accentで有名なロンドン出身の俳優

Meryl Streep: アメリカの女優

Liz Hurley:  イギリスのモデル・女優

Hank Marvin: イギリスのミュージシャン。メガネと赤い(赤っぽい)ギター(ストラトキャスターというギター)で有名。数年前、Hank MarvinがStarving(お腹ペコペコ)の意味というのを利用した面白いTVコマーシャルがあり、おすすめビデオのページの上から13番目に載せています。是非ご覧ください。

Mickey Rourke: アメリカの俳優

Mick Jagger:  ロックバンド、the Rolling Stonesのヴォーカル


Lager:  ビールの種類

come in useful: be usefulと同じ意味。come in handyとも言う。

本文に説明があるもの(斜体になっている)

Cockney Rhyming Slang: 主にCockneyの人たちが使うスラングの一種。

porky pie: 嘘。このスラングが登場するMusic Videoを使って書いたブログもあります。元英国首相Theresa Mayが嘘つきと言った内容の歌詞です。57-58秒くらいにporky pieがヴィジュアル付きで出てきます。

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