English on the Internet - English Magazine

This week's article

November 21, 1999

This week's article is split into three sections as I've received a couple of requests.

Firstly, I was asked to write about something "unusual" that a tourist might find in London. The most unusual thing I can think of in London is "Cockney rhyming slang". Cockney rhyming slang is a way of talking - almost a language within a language. It is only spoken by people living in the eastern part of London and it is very hard for even English people to understand. It is based on English, but some of the words and phrases have been replaced to make it more complicated.

For example, somebody might say "I'm going down the battleship". This would mean that he is going to a pub. There is a (bizarre) logic to this: A "cruiser" is a type of battleship, "cruiser" rhymes with "boozer" and "boozer" is slang for pub.

Some others:

"trouble and strife" = wife
"little blister" = sister
"boat race" = face
"apple and pears" = stairs
"whistle and flute" = suit

It is even possible to invent your own phrases, but nobody else would understand you! Take, for example, the popular cartoon "Scooby-do": as "do" rhymes with "clue" you could invent a new phrase "I haven't a Scooby" to mean "I don't know".

Cockney rhyming slang isn't really worth learning as it is only spoken in a very small area of London and even there, normal English is understood by everyone. To hear some Cockney rhyming slang, I'd advise watching the film "Lock, stock and two smoking barrels".

The second part of my article this week deals with the second request that I received - to list prices of a few everyday items so that you can compare them the Czech prices.

Half a litre of Coca-Cola would be 73 pence.
Half a litre of vodka would be about 5 or 6 pounds.
Half a litre of car petrol would be about 38 pence (car ownership is Very expensive in Britain).
A typical (new) small car would cost about 6000 pounds.
A loaf of bread can be anything from 20 pence to 70 pence.
A chocolate bar is typically 25 to 30 pence.
The Average British house costs 70000 pounds.
A cinema ticket is between 3 and 10 pounds, depending upon the cinema.
Music CDs cost between 11 and 15 pounds.
The average British salary is 18000 pounds per year.

Finally, I can't resist saying a little about this weekend. It has been a glorious weekend for English sport. First, England beat Scotland 2-0 in the European (soccer) championship qualifiers. Then an English featherweight boxer called Paul Ingle captured the world title from a Mexican. Best of all, our heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis, became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world by achieving what was hitherto thought (by the British) to be impossible: to win a championship fight in America on points!

by Duncan - Great Britain, enjoys writing to penpals from all over the world

To suggest a topic for an article, feel free to email me at dareid@btinternet.com or you can visit my home page at www.btinternet.com/~dareid

© November 1999 English on the Internet www.aj.cz