Printable Version
Pronunciation: kahk-ni Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A resident of the East End of London. 2. The accent (dialect) associated with the residents of the East End of London.

Notes: Here is an appropriate word to consider while our minds are still on yesterday's all British word dekko. Cockney English is as striking a dialect of English as 'Brooklynese' or the 'drawls' of the southern US. It contains no Hs, replaces T with the glottal stop we all pronounce between the oh's of Oh-oh!, and replaces TH with F.

In Play: To make this dialect of English all the more impenetrable, Cockneys have introduced a special code called 'Cockney rhyming slang', replacing words with words accompanying words that rhyme with them. Hard to follow? Here are a few examples. A lie is called a porky because lie rhymes with pork pie. To have a butcher's is to have a look, rhyming with butcher's hook. Your china is your mate because mate rhymes with china plate.

Word History: You won't believe where this word came from! In Middle English the word was cokenei "cock's (rooster's) egg", something pretty special, wouldn't you say? Well, that is why the meaning soon shifted to "a pampered child". Soon it quite naturally took on the meaning "city dweller" to those who resided in the villages and countryside. Cockneys today are a very special type of city dweller. Cock itself is seldom used to refer to a male fowl in the US due to the vulgar sense it assumed early on. However, it comes from the same source as chicken: sound imitation. Even Late Latin referred to clucking as coccus from coco, the sound of clucking. The Old English word for chicken was cicen, probably from cici [kiki], the sound of chicks clucking (clicking?)

Dr. Goodword,

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