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Chapter 8: The Echoes of an English Voice (293-336). The Echoes of an English Voice. The Story of English. By Don L. F. Nilsen Based on The Story of English By Robert McCrum, Robert MacNeil and William Cran (Penguin, 2003). The Raj: The sun never sets on the British Empire.

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Chapter 8 the echoes of an english voice 293 336 l.jpg

Chapter 8: The Echoes of an English Voice (293-336)

The Echoes

of an

English

Voice

34


The story of english l.jpg

The Story of English

By Don L. F. Nilsen

Based on The Story of English

By Robert McCrum, Robert MacNeil

and William Cran (Penguin, 2003)

34


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The Raj:The sun never sets on the British Empire.

  • English East-end convicts (Cockney speakers) were sent to New South Wales, Australia.

  • British loyalists ended up in New Zealand.

  • British subjects also colonized Rhodesia (Cape Colony) in Southern Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, parts of China, parts of Canada, India, Pakistan, Burma, Afghanistan, Thailand, Tanzania, the Falkland Islands and America.

  • (McCrum 293-294)

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English Raj (McCrum 274/297)

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Cockney

  • The word “Cockney” refers to a “cock’s egg,” and is considered of little value.

  • In the 16th century, Cockney was the language of all Londoners who were not part of the Court.

  • During the industrial revolution, the destitute farmers in Essex, Suffolk, Kent, and Middlesex moved to London’s East End. This is where Cockney developed.

  • (McCrum 295)

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Cockney English (London’s West End) (McCrum 278/302)

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Cockney in Culture & Literature

  • Cockney is the language of the girls murdered by Jack the Ripper.

  • Cockney is the language of Sam Weller in Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers.

  • Cockney is the language of George Bernard Shaw’s Eliza Doolittle

  • Cockney is the language of Sweeney Todd.

  • Cockney is the language of Michael Cain in Alphie

  • Cockney is the language of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

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  • Cockney speakers say “year’oles” and “chimbley” for “ear holes” and “chimney.”

  • They say “bruvver” for “brother.”

  • In “butter,” “bottle” and “rotten” they have a glottal stop.

  • They drop the final –g in “eatin’” and “drinkin.’”

  • They often use the tag, “isn’t it.”

  • They have an intrusive –r in “gone,” “off” and “cough” so they become “gorn,” “orf” and “corf.”

  • “You” becomes “yer”; “tomato” and “potato” become “tomater” and “potater”

  • “God help us,” and “God blind me” become “Gawdelpus” and “Gorblimey.”

  • (McCrum 300-301)

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Cockney Rhyming Slang

  • In Cockney rhyming slang “row” and “table” become “bull and cow” and “Cain and Abel.”

  • “Suit”  “whistle and flute”; “hat”  “tit-for-tat”; “gloves”  “turtle-doves”; “boots”  “daisyroots”; “nude”  “in the rude”; breast  “Bristol City”; wife  “trouble and strife”; “liar”  “holy friar”; “money”  “bees and honey”; and “talk”  “rabbit and pork”

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  • In Cockney Rhyming Slang, the word for “teeth” is “Edward Heath,” because this was one of the prominent feature’s of the premier’s smile. And “John Selwyn” became the word for “Bummer” because his last name was Gummer.

  • Because Cockney Rhyming Slang is an Argot, the speakers try to make the expressions cryptic, therefore the expressions above get reduced to: whistle, titfer, turtles, daisies, Bristols, trouble, holy, bees, and rabbit.

  • The word for “backside” is “Khyber.” This is because of the British soldiers who had been stationed in the “Khyber Pass.”

  • (McCrum 303-305)

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Foreign Influences on Cockney

  • The Cockney word “pal” for “friend” is the Romany word for “brother.” “Dukes” is the Romany word for hands, as in the expression, “Put up your Dukes.”

  • The Cockney words “schlemiel” (idiot), “schmutter” (clothing), “gelt” (money), and “nosh” (food) come from Yiddish.

  • Cockney “parlyvoo” (chat), “San fairy ann” (it doesn’t matter), and “ally toot sweet” (hurry up) come from French.

  • And Cockney “bullshit” (rubbish) comes from American English.(McCrum 306)

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Back Slang

  • Another secret language that developed during the 19th Century was back slang.

  • Instead of saying the numbers “one, four, five and six” they would say “eno, rouf, efiv and xis.

  • In back slang, “fat” and “boy” become “taf” and “yob.”(McCrum 303)

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Market Language

  • When greengrocers trade wholesale in fruits and vegetables, they are sometimes talking to two or three customers at the same time. The greengrocer might say,

  • “Right, George, you can be a rouf there.” and he knows that he has bought at four pounds, and the other person, who might be buying the same thing for five pounds, doesn’t know.

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  • The slang numbers that are used in London’s East End are meant to be confusing.

  • Cow’s calf is “half,” “nicker is “one,” bottle is “two,” carpet is “three,” rouf is four,” jacks is “five,” Tom Nicks is “six,” neves is “seven,” garden gate is “eight,” and cock and hen or cockle is “ten.” One greengrocer remarks,

  • “There’s no rules. The other day this bloke said, ‘Do they come to an Alan Whicker then?’ Meaning ‘nicker,’ which is a pound.”

  • (McCrum 304-305)

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  • In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle is Professor Pickering’s Project.

  • She doesn’t pronounce /h/ sounds and she adds /t/ to words like “orphant” and “sermont.”

  • She pronounces “thrust,” “farthing” and “feather” as “frust,” “farding” and “fever.”(McCrum 295)

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  • Instead of “flowers” and “Go on” and “A B C” she says “flars,” and “Garn” and “Ay-ee, Ba-yee, Sa-yee.”

  • She doesn’t pronounce her /h/ sound and has to learn “In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly every happen.”

  • She pronounces “chain,” “strange” and “obtain” as “chyne,” “straynge,” and “obtayn,” and has to learn “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”

  • (McCrum 295)

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Cockney Friendship

  • Cockney English has many different terms to indicate the closeness of a relationship, ranging from

  • Duck

  • Love

  • Dear

  • Cock

  • (My old) chum

  • Guvnor and

  • Mate

  • The people that a Cockney speaker mixes with socially are known as “the mates.”(McCrum 307)

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Australian English (McCrum 286/311)

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Australian English

  • Billabong: Water hole

  • Billy: Coffee

  • Boomerang: Throwing stick

  • Coolibah: An Australian tree

  • G’day

  • Illywhacker (con man)

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More Australian English

  • Jumbuck: Sheep

  • Kangaroo, Dingo, Jooey, Koalla, Kookaburra, Wallabee, and Wombat: Australian animals

  • Outback

  • Swagman: Hobo, tramp

  • Tucker-Bag: Bag for holding “tucker”

  • Walkabout: Mindless meandering

  • Waltzing Matilda: A song

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Waltzing Matilda

  • Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong.

  • Under the shade of a coolibah tree,

  • And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled,

  • “Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me?”

  • Waltzing Matilda,

  • Waltzing Matilda,

  • “Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me?”

  • And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled,

  • “Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me?”

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  • Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong:

  • Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.

  • And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker-bag,

  • “You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.”

  • Waltzing Matilda,

  • Waltzing Matilda,

  • “You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.”

  • And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker-bag.

  • “You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.”

  • (McCrum 314)

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Is Australian English like British or American English?

  • Australians (like Paul Hogan, a.k.a. Crocodile Dundee) are independent.

  • Unlike Cockney speakers, there is no glottal stop in Australian English, and they don’t drop their /h/.(McCrum 319)

  • Australians say both “biscuit” and “cookie,” both “nappy” and “diaper,” both “lorry” and “truck.”

  • They ride in both “elevators” and “lifts.”

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  • Australians get their water from “faucets” not “taps,” and their cars run on “petrol” not “gas,” and drive on “freeways,” not “motorways.

  • Americans borrowed “kangaroo” from Australia, and the Australians borrowed it back in the expression “kangaroo court.” (McCrum 315, 327)

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Let Stalk Strine

  • Afferbeck Lauder entitled his book, Let Stalk Strine. He shows how

  • “How much is it?”  “Emma chisit?”

  • “They ought to.”  “Aorta.”

  • “Nothing but a…”  “Numb Butter…”

  • Aussies also love metaphors like “as scarce as rocking horse manure” and “as bald as a bandicoot.” And they might describe teenage bliss as “feed, a frostie, and a feature” meaning “food, beer and sex.”(McCrum 326)

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  • Although Australia is the size of Europe, Australians live in a “one-class society, united in a mixture of hostility and nostalgia towards Mother England,

  • United especially in the isolation and rigour of Australian life.”

  • The rising inflection has to do with Australian insecurity.

  • Aussies, who have a twang in their speech, feel that the English use “Lah di dah talk.”

  • They see English attitudes as “uppity.”

  • Boys who use “proper speech” are often considered to be regarded as “sissies,” or even worse, “poofters.”(McCrum 320, 323)

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Australian Social & Gender Dialects

  • Even though there are no regional dialects in Australia, there are three social dialects:

  • Broad Australian

  • General Australian

  • Cultivated Australian.

  • “Women and girls tend towards General or Cultivated Australian, and…men and boys, expressing mateship and machismo…, tend towards General or Broad Australian.”(McCrum 322)

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What is a Pommy?

  • An Aussie will call an Englishman a “Pommy.”

  • This is short for “pomegranate” because Englishmen are often ruddy-cheeked.

  • In Cockney Rhyming Slang an Englishman is called “Jimmy.” This is short for “Jimmy Grant” which slant-rhymes with “pomegranate,” and which alludes to a prototypical Englishman.

  • (McCrum 315-316)

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Barry Humphries

  • On stage, Australian Barry Humphries becomes Dame Edna Everage.

  • One of her favorite targets is the “Wowser,” which is a prudish teetotalling Englishman.

  • Barry Humphries himself invented the word “Wowser.” It came into the language when he referred to Alderman Waterhouse as a “white, wolly, weary, watery, word-wasting wowser from Waverly.”(McCrum 316)

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Dame Nellie Melba

  • Dame Nellie Melba lamented the way Australians use oi for I, and ahee for ay (in “may” or “say”), and spoke caustically of Australia’s “twisted vowels, distortions and flatness of speech” which, “seriously prejudice other people against us.”

  • (McCrum 324)

  • By the way, Dame Nellie Melba liked to eat a special kind of toast.

  • This later became “Melba Toast.”

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New Zealand English (McCrum 302/331)

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New Zealand English

  • Samuel Butler was probably thinking of New Zealand when he wrote his satire, Erewhon (which is “Nowhere” backwards).

  • About New Zealand speech, Butler wrote, “The all-engrossing topics seem to be sheep, horses, dogs, cattle, English grasses, paddocks, bush and so forth.”

  • New Zealanders, like Australians, have three social dialects: Cultivated, General, and Broad.

  • (McCrum 329)

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New Zealand & Britain

  • There are a lot of Scottish settlements in the South Island, and there they roll their /r/. This is known as the “Southland burr.”

  • “If there is a choice between British and American English usage, the New Zealander will tend towards the British where the Aussie may prefer the American.”(McCrum 330, 333)

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!South African English & Afrikans (McCrum 303/332)

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!English vs. Afrikaans in South Africa

  • In June of 1976, the South African government decreed that Afrikaans was to be encouraged and English discouraged.

  • “The Afrikaaner authorities had introduced a regulation that forced schoolchildren to learn some of their subjects through the medium of Afrikaans instead of English.”

  • (McCrum 334)

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!!Afrikaaner words in English

  • “Trek,” “veldt” and “apartheid” are Afrikaaner words.

  • Es’kia Mphahlele at the University of Witwatersrand said,

  • “English is…tied up with the Black man’s efforts to liberate himself.”

  • “Afrikaans, by contrast, has become the language of the oppressor.” (McCrum 335)

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!!!Accompanying DVD

My Fair Lady by Lerner and Lowe (originally from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion)

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!!!Works Cited

  • McCrum, Robert, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil. The Story of English. New York, NY: Penguin, 1986. (source of map citations)

  • McCrum, Robert, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil. The Story of English: Third Revised Edition. New York, NY: Penguin, 2003. (source of text citations)

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