[Repost] Up the apples, she’s got a lovely pair of bacons – what do East Londoners mean? (by transpanish)

Up the apples, she’s got a lovely pair of bacons – what do East Londoners mean?

Cockney rhyming slang is jam-packed with references to fruit, vegetables and other kinds of foods. This East London working-class slang, structured around a simple rhyming system, was the East Londoner’s language code which prevented bosses, the police and other authority figures from understanding what was being said.

Some of the most popular food-related cockney rhyming phrases include “apples and pears,” “bacon and eggs” and “custard and jelly.” Below, we’ve compiled a fairly extensive list of food rhymes and their East London meaning…

cockney_slang

apples and pears

The phrase “apples and pears” rhymes with “stairs” and so is commonly used to refer to anything which might be going on above. You might say to someone, looking for an item they’ve lost, “It might be up the apples,” meaning it might be upstairs and therefore worth checking.

bacon and eggs

Bacon and eggs rhymes with legs and is used when you want to compliment a woman. You might say, “You’ve got a lovely pair of bacons,” meaning that she has a really good looking pair of legs.

custard and jelly

“Shall we watch a bit of custard?” might be a question someone would ask if they wanted to watch the television, as custard and jelly refers directly to the telly (television).

loaf of bread

If you’re ever told to, “use your loaf,” in the East End of London, it’s because you’re being told to “use your head” or to think/act smarter. “Head” rhymes with “bread,” and so the phrase is shortened from “use your loaf of bread (head)” to “use your loaf!”

mince pies

When a guy from the East End of London wants to chat up a lovely lady that he sets his eyes on, he might say, “You’ve got lovely mincies.” “Mince pies”, rhymes with “eyes” and… the conclusion to be drawn from the rest is quite clear.

peas in the pot

When you walk into a room and someone says, “It’s a bit peasy in here,” they mean that it’s a bit hot. “Peas in the pot” rhymes with “hot,” hence the use of the phrase, “peasy.”

plates of meat

“Plates of meat” rhymes with “feet.” You might hear someone say, “Be careful of me (my) plates,” if they’re frightened that someone else is about to stand on their feet.

potatoes in the mould

A shortened version of “potatoes” in the East End of London is the word “taters.” The phrase “potatoes (taters) in the mould” rhymes with “cold” and is used when someone is feeling a little nippy. You might hear someone say, “It’s a bit taters in here.”

rabbit and pork

If you happen to be spending a lot of time with someone who talks and talks and talks and never seems to want to just be quiet, you might want to say, “Wow! You can really rabbit, can’t you!” The phrase “rabbit and pork” rhymes with “talk” and is used to talk about the big chatterboxes in our lives.

tea leaf

“He’s a little tea leaf,” is used to accuse someone of being a “thief.”

As is made evident from the examples above, the parts of the rhymes which don’t actually match the sound of the word they are referring to is the word that is normally used in Cockney Rhyming Slang. For instance, in “bacon and eggs”, “eggs” rhymes with “legs”, but “bacon” is the part of the phrase which is used when you want to tell a woman she has a lovely pair of “bacons” (legs).

By opting for the section of the rhyme which doesn’t actually rhyme, the secret meaning of the phrase was kept even more of a secret amongst the working classes of East London. Secrecy to Cockney Rhymers means everything.

 

Cf. original: http://www.transpanish.biz/translation_blog/examples-cockney/

 

[Repost] 4 Good Reasons Why People Say “I Could Care Less” (by Arika Okrent)

4 Good Reasons Why People Say “I Could Care Less”

IMAGE CREDIT:
THINKSTOCK

March 4th: It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative (march forth!). Since 2008 it has also been National Grammar Day, a holiday conceived by Martha Brockenbrough of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar. Rather than use the occasion as a chance to go around correcting mistakes or teaching the finer points of usage (plenty of other people have those beats covered), I like to take the opportunity to focus on the sometimes weird and wonderful things that languages do (or that people do with languages). Last year I had fun with 7 Sentences That Sound Crazy But Are Still Grammatical. This year I’d like to go over a few good reasons why people say, “I could care less.” The list does not include “because they’re stupid and have no idea how logic works.” It turns out, there are a number of things about English that conspire to make “I could care less” a less irrational phrase than it might seem.

1. SARCASM

A number of language writers have suggested that “could care less” has a sarcastic reading, conveying something like “Ha! As if there were something in the world I could care less about.” There are some American Yiddish-inflected phrases that work this way, like “I should be so lucky!” (meaning “there’s no way I’m ever gonna be that lucky”) or “I should care!” (why should I care?). Even if “could care less” didn’t originate from a sarcastic intent, it matches up well enough with these other forms in the language to help give it staying power.

2. POSITIVE/NEGATIVE PHRASE PAIRS

Why use “could care less” if we also have “couldn’t care less”? There are other pairs of phrases in English about which you could ask the same question. Why say “that will teach you to leave your car unlocked” when you really mean “that will teach you not to leave your car unlocked.” Some other phrases that can mean the same thing with or without the negation:

You know squat about that. You don’t know squat about that.

I wonder whether we can make that work. I wonder whether we can’t make that work.

You shouldn’t go, I think. You shouldn’t go, I don’t think.

I can hardly wait. I can’t hardly wait.

Again, there’s an existing framework that helps “could care less” blend right in.

3. IMPLIED COMPARISON

Evidence for the use of “could care less” goes back to 1955, with “couldn’t care less” appearing only about 10 years before that. But long before that the phrase “No one could care less than I” was in use. Think about how you might respond to such a phrase in a certain type of conversation. “I’ve never been so insulted in my life! How dare they imply such a thing! No one could care less for the trappings of fame than I!”

“I could, darling. I could care less.”

The rest of the comparison, “than you,” is left understood. Perhaps “I could care less” also carries a shadow of the original phrase and a hidden comparison. “I could care less … than anyone.”

4. IDIOMS DON’T CARE ABOUT LOGIC

People might not have any thought of sarcasm, positive/negative phrase pairs, or implied comparison when they use “I could care less,” but when they use it, it’s as a set idiom, something they’ve heard before and learned as a unit. We have plenty of idioms that serve us perfectly well, despite the gaps in logic that appear if you look at them too closely. Consider “head over heels” (shouldn’t it be heels over head?) or “have your cake and eat it too?” (shouldn’t it be eat your cake and have it too?) or “the exception proves the rule” (shouldn’t it be the exception invalidates the rule?). There are reasons these idioms developed the way they did, but we don’t have to know anything about those reasons, or the original meanings, to use them perfectly sensibly. Same goes for “I could care less,” which people only ever use to mean “I couldn’t care less,” never the opposite. It doesn’t cause legitimate confusion, though it does cause quite a bit of consternation. In any case, it’s here to stay.

For more on “could care less” see the collection of links on this topic at LanguageLog, columns by Jan Freeman at Boston Globe, John McIntyre at the Baltimore Sun, and Ben Zimmer at Visual Thesaurus, and the snappy overview by Bill Walsh in Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk.

March 4, 2014 – 11:00am

Linguist, author of In the Land of Invented Languages, lives in Philadelphia, talks with a Chicago accent.