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Day’s a-dawning: What is Cockney Rhyming Slang?

Day’s a-dawning: What is Cockney Rhyming Slang?

We hear of the Cockney Rhyming Slang on occasion, but still don’t understand it properly! Why you might ask? Well, dear readers, we aim to provide a short overview of the history of this typically English phenomenon.

     I.        Background

Amongst historians, it is believed that the slang began to be spoken publicly around the 1840s. This is also because the first written evidence of the slang came to exist by that time, so really it could have been spoken for years before that.

It is unsure whether it began as a secret language among those born in Cheapside – to this day believed to be the Cockney borough of London – or whether it was a game of skill. As a secret language, it could have been used by thieves in order to not be arrested by the police. As a game, it tests the quick wit and vocabulary of a person.

    II.        Who can speak CRS?

Anyone can speak cockney rhyming slang if the principles are understood. Despite that perhaps the best at speaking this slang are those born and bred in London’s East End, specifically close to Bow Bells. Others noted that it is spoken in parts of Essex now.

  III.        How does it work?

The principles of rhyming slang are in the name: it has to rhyme. Essentially, the word you are trying to say should be said by another word that it rhymes with, i.e. ‘Uncle Ted’ = bed; ‘Scooby Doo’ = clue; ‘apples and pears’ = stairs; etc.

There are arguments that there is logic behind the expressions chosen and that the slang reflects this.

One slang expression we can explain to you is ‘apple and pears’ for stairs: it was common in the 19th century that apples and pears were displayed in a stair-like form when the fruits were seasonal.

We could also try to justify ‘Scooby Doo’ for clue because as it is known, the dog in the TV show and subsequent films was a little bit clueless as to what went on.

To conclude however, here is a very simple edit of different slang and what they mean. Enjoy it!

Languages: From the real to the fictitious

SpeakUp London wants to introduce you to a topic of interest which relates to what we do here: languages.

We teach languages that are currently widely spoken from the existing 6,000 that the world can speak. There are also those who catalogue how languages have developed over time. Maybe they even invent or discover new ones. These people are linguists. 

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One author who succeeded in combining his love for languages with the creation of new ones was J. R. R. Tolkien, beloved author of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He is not the only one, but one of the most successful ones. Other languages created include Dothraki and High Valyrian from Game of Thrones and Klingon from the Star Trek franchise.

Tolkien

Born in 1892, Tolkien was young when language creation was at its zenith in the early 20th century; Esperanto is one of the few languages created at that time period that survived. He was also influenced from an early age by his mother, who taught him Latin, Greek and German. At the University of Oxford, he continued to learn more languages, which included Old English, Finnish, Welsh and Germanic languages, with a preference for Gothic.

 

Creating Languages

“Anyone who invents a language finds that it requires a suitable habitation and a history in which it can develop.”

There are traces of this implementation in the myths and languages used in Middle-Earth including name and places. The fictitious borrows from the real. For example, Sauron derives from Old Norse and Icelandic languages to mean ‘filthy’ and ‘uncleanness’.  Quenya, the High Elven language, has grammar rules originate from the Finnish language, and Sindarin, the spoken Elvish, is influenced by the Welsh language, a descendant of Gaelic.

For each language in the books to have a genealogy not dissimilar to human ancestry, a mythology w created. This mythology gives the language meaning. It explains why the harsher pronunciation in the Black Speech of Mordor create an association with evil. It is also why the Hobbits’ love for language means they can create riddles. Tolkien maintained that “language construction will breed a mythology” and in this, the man succeeded.  

The truth is if you have siblings you probably created your own language so that Mum and Dad wouldn’t know what you were saying or doing. If you want to become a writer, you can take heart and inspiration from great writers like these.

 

 

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Are you an active or passive bystander?

Every once in awhile, dear SpeakUp Londoners, we have to post something serious. Yes, that means it can be boring, but we hope it is interesting.  Today, we are hoping to teach you something  important, it might change your perspective on studying . It’a bold claim to make, but to understand the differences in active and passive learning have saved some grades in the past.

Active and passive learning are two theories that discuss how the brain learns best. Experts in education express preference in active learning over passive. The reason might be obvious: active learning involves doing more with your sensory faculties. While passive learning often involves muscle memory, meaning that it is all about remembering until the exam and then forgetting it, active learning encourages the development of new links, concepts that intertwine and stick in your mind.

Passive learning assumes that the mind is a sponge.

Tongues out for Rock’n’Roll!

What is the first thing you think of when I say ‘sticking tongues out’ to you?

Since World Stick Your Tongue Out Day has just passed, we had been asking ourselves the same question. And while most people honestly answered the Rolling Stones album cover, yours truly thought of the Einstein photo first – you know, the one that was taken by accident on his 72nd birthday in 1951 by a press photographer, but he liked it so much he asked for nine copies to personally distribute to friends and family!  I suppose that we all find different things important, such as knowledge of pop culture or history but on this strange event this week, here are some interesting facts about tongues and rock’n’roll!

Did you know the tongue logo on the Rolling Stones cover was inspired by the Hindu goddess Kali? Her lolling tongue represents one of two things: firstly, embarrassment or surprise or secondly, it is a bloody reminder of the havoc she is known to wreak in the Brahmanic mythology.

Rocking and rolling used to mean having sex, but that has now, somewhat, lost its meaning.

The most famous solo rock’n’roll artist in the UK is Cliff Richard. He is believed to have started the movement with the hit single “Move It” in 1958.

The most famous rock band in the UK are the Beatles – but that we already knew.

The Beatles won 15 Ivor Novello awards for song composition from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.

The band Queen has the longest-running fan club according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Mick Jagger’s 2003 knighthood is considered controversial by some of his former bandmates who believe it goes against the anti-establishment feeling the band initially represented.

What do you want to learn about the tongue itself? I guess not much, it’s not spoken of much but there are some odd facts about it! You will know-how in the Western world, sticking your tongue out might be a sign of hate or disgust?

  • In Tibet, it’s actually a greeting and a sign of respect! Legend has it that one king who ruled in the 9th century had a black tongue and was cruel. So now, the tongue is shown to prove that they are not evil or the reincarnation of this king.
  • In Maori culture in New Zealand, tongues are shown in order to intimidate opponents before war!
  • The longest tongue in the world is 10.1 cm, a record held by Nick Stoeberi

We have to have an educational element in this post, so here is a link to well-known British tongue twisters! Use this to practice your pronunciation to just to see how badly your friends fail at finishing these. These would make great Snapchat stories.

Review “Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty” @British Library

Pride in London has just happened, but the issues that face the LGBTQ+ community persist. Why write a blog post about this? With no intention of being political, equality is a topical issue that affects us all and we should fight for it.

Maybe the past can inform the future. The British Library honours Pride 2017, and the passing of the ‘Alan Turing Law’, with an exhibition on the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community in the UK through journals of famous authors, drafts of songs, and novels amongst other things.

Ongoing until the 19th September, this free exhibition is tucked away in the right hand corner when you arrive from the main entrance. A small exhibition packed with information, it begins on the right side with Oscar Wilde and his famous trial and sentencing. It is also from him that for a long time, homosexuality was known as the ‘love that dare not speak its name’. Moving into the 20th century, it is characterised by the main struggles and success of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalised sexual acts in private. This was amended in 2003, when the 1967 Act was repealed completely, and the exhibition finishes with a film made recently on the impact the changes in law have made in the lives of British citizens.

Interactive elements are dotted throughout the exhibit, particularly as music was influential in fighting for equal rights, and famous artists include Boy George and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Visitors can listen to songs and drama pieces that echo the sentiments of what it was like to be persecuted for love, admire original copies of books written on the subject, and educate themselves on the struggles to achieve the freedom that exists today.

 

If you enjoy a bit of political and social history, this exhibit is for you and worth a visit! If you were already heading to the British Library for any of the other exhibits going on, make this one to visit!

 

To Read or Not to Read

ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL! Do you recognise this quote? It’s from Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. What about the title? It’s from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a little bit changed.

Today, in honour of the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter series, we want to talk about why reading is beneficial! We know, we know, we’re starting to sound like your parents, but hear us out first, decide later : )

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Whether you read women’s magazines, a Charles Dickens novel, poetry, short stories or new fiction, reading benefits the mind and body:

  1. At the end of the day, you’ve had your dinner but you feel tired and can’t sleep yet? Reading helps you to relieve stress and fall asleep! I personally fall asleep after three pages of Charles Dickens or Wuthering Heights.
  2. It improves your memory, decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s – now, if that isn’t a fantastic benefit I don’t know what is!
  3. Scientific studies have concluded that those who read regularly are more empathetic! When you read about how others are feeling, you learn to read those signs on people’s faces and in their body stances when you speak to them in person, allowing you to have better social interactions.  

Reading is also beneficial when you learn a new language – but that shouldn’t be a surprise! Don’t be mad, but when we learn new things we are like children absorbing new information, wherever it might be from.

The main benefit of reading in a foreign language you are learning is that it helps you remember vocabulary better. Reading words in familiar and unfamiliar contexts helps us understand the different meanings. If you don’t understand the word contextually, grab a dictionary-thesaurus. Reading also helps to improve your speaking and writing! You might not even notice that you are improving but your subconscious picks up on correct phrasing and words and hey, presto! – you are using them too.

If you don’t want to read children’s books, maybe YA (Young Adults)? These are slightly longer and more difficult to read, but at least it isn’t Shakespeare – the truth is, Shakespeare is difficult for British people too!

My advice? If a book you love was translated into English, read it in English. At least you know the story already and can focus on improving your English!

Peace Out!

Conceptual Books

The particular form of humour everybody talks about

Hello, dear Speak Up Londoners. We laugh. We joke. We spend time trying to make our loved ones laugh. Why? Because, as we’ve stated in the past, laughing is good for our health and our lives in general. And what is the best way to provoke a laugh? By telling a good joke of course! And what produces more jokes than a good sense of humour? Today, dear Speak Up Londoners we thought to share some interesting facts with you!

 

Let’s start with the basics then! What is a joke? Well, a joke is something that someone says in order to generate a laugh in public and it is characterized by a particularly funny final sentence – called the punchline.

 

There are different kinds of jokes, differentiated by theme or structure. Jokes are a display of humour, and as such, they vary deeply in the forms they can have. One particular kind of humour, popular all over the world is British humour.
You have surely heard of it – plus, living in Britain might have given you the chance to hear it. This particularly colourful kind of humour is based on a set of unwritten rules and practices. For instance, some of these practices include the use of devices such as puns, intellectual jokes and innuendos.

 

If you are not very familiar with these terms we are glad to unveil them for you: puns are plays on words, stemming from terms having multiple meanings or similar sounds. Puns being strictly related with language, their use is specific to the language that generated it. Of course, no need to say, we find them hilarious!

Innuendos, instead, are insinuations regarding a person, aimed to denigrate that person without being rude, through words that taken on their own are innocent.

 

Among the other defining characteristics for British humour – again, one of our favourite source of jokes – is the theme of self-deprecation and the almost absolute absence of taboos.

 

Now that we’ve given you a short explanation regarding the most popular form of humour, it’s up to you to become a master at it… or just enjoy it when someone uses it with you! =D =D =D

 

Maria Chiara Strano

 

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The particular form of humour everybody talks about

 Hello, dear Speak Up Londoners. We laugh. We joke. We spend time trying to make our loved ones laugh. Why? Because, as we’ve stated in the past, laughing is good for our health and our lives in general. And what is the best way to provoke a laugh? By telling a good joke of course! And what produces more jokes than a good sense of humour? Today, dear Speak Up Londoners we thought to share some interesting facts with you!

 

Let’s start with the basics then! What is a joke? Well, a joke is something that someone says in order to generate a laugh in public and it is characterized by a particularly funny final sentence – called the punchline.

 

There are different kinds of jokes, differentiated by theme or structure. Jokes are a display of humour, and as such, they vary deeply in the forms they can have. One particular kind of humour, popular all over the world is British humour.
You have surely heard of it – plus, living in Britain might have given you the chance to hear it. This particularly colourful kind of humour is based on a set of unwritten rules and practices. For instance, some of these practices include the use of devices such as puns, intellectual jokes and innuendos.

 

If you are not very familiar with these terms we are glad to unveil them for you: puns are plays on words, stemming from terms having multiple meanings or similar sounds. Puns being strictly related with language, their use is specific to the language that generated it. Of course, no need to say, we find them hilarious!

Innuendos, instead, are insinuations regarding a person, aimed to denigrate that person without being rude, through words that taken on their own are innocent.

 

Among the other defining characteristics for British humour – again, one of our favourite source of jokes – is the theme of self-deprecation and the almost absolute absence of taboos.

 

Now that we’ve given you a short explanation regarding the most popular form of humour, it’s up to you to become a master at it… or just enjoy it when someone uses it with you! =D =D =D

Typewriter: a path to the future.

Today if we need to send an important document, we turn on our computers, we open Word and we start typing down all the information we need to share with the world. It is natural; it is part of our life. We are so used to it that we don’t even wonder how this kind of activity was carried out before computers. Well, to be fair we know it. In the past people used to write. A lot. Which is why one invention made a huge difference in people’s lives, before the arrival of computers: typewriters.

 

Typewriters were one of the major inventions of the 19th century, changing people’s lives completely in and outside the work environment. Indeed not only did typewriters make communications more formalised by partially replacing handwriting, but they also had the effect of shaping the society we live in.

 

Indeed, after the invention of typewriters, they became essential for administration work in offices. But who were the people that usually typewrote? Women. As a matter of fact, these machines worked as revolutionary devices since they paved the way to monetary independence for women.

 

For instance, in the “Manual of the Typewriter” written by John Harrison in 1888, this particular device was said to perfectly match women’s thin fingers, not requiring any additional skills than the ones utilized in playing the piano. Although nowadays this kind of statement might sound sexist; it is also true that seeing women using typewriters as a socially acceptable practice was a clear sign that society was changing, as was the role of women in it. Typewriters – along with other inventions like bicycles – were important means for that to happen, guaranteeing freedom of movement and of gaining, therefore, independence.

 

Therefore, typewriters twice represented a revolution in history: first for their role in technological advancement, and then for their pioneering role in gender equality achievements, and as such they mean so much more than mere writing devices. In conclusion, Speak Up London friends, be aware of how simple, sometimes obsolete objects, have had the power to shape the world and the lives of millions of people who have lived in it.

 

Maria Chiara Strano

 

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Nature: the kind of green that heals us.

Hey there, Speak Up Londoners. Do you remember the time when with our blog articles we tried to improve the quality of our readers’ lives by sharing informative bits with them? Of course you remember, we do it every week! Today we will be talking about nature and its beneficial impact on our wellbeing.

 

Although the cities we live in are mainly made of concrete, our inner us will always try to connect with the nature in the outside world, because – hold on for the revelation – nature is good for us.

 

Let’s make one of our beloved lists to discover how much your body and mind can benefit from staying in contact with the sometimes forgotten mother nature.

 

  1. According to some researchers, being in contact with nature helps you improve your physical health in multiple ways:
  • It reduces blood pressure
  • It reduces heart rate
  • It reduces muscle tension
  1. If the previous point is not enough to delineate the great gift nature is, we would like to add that nature also has positive consequences for the mind. Among these there are indeed the decrease in negative feelings (like anger) and the increase in positive moods among the people who experience it.
  2. Living a life in connection with nature seems to be correlated with an increase in life satisfaction and happiness.

 

If on the one hand it is true that appreciating nature is good because of its positive effects on people, on the other hand this practice is also beneficial the other way round. By acknowledging the treasure that nature represents for us, we will pay more attention, and make a bigger effort, to safeguard it.

 

Therefore, dear and loyal readers, while you are around Hyde Park, Green Park or even just in your backyard taking pictures of grass and flowers in this London summer, remember that that little corner of green is a lot more than just a great pic for Instagram!

 

Maria Chiara Strano

london nature