by Barry Pennock-Speck - ict4u2learn

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The Cockney accent is certainly one of the best known of all English accents. It has been made famous in films as diverse as Mary Poppins and Lock, Stock and Two Loaded Barrels. Cockney is the accent spoken in the East-End of London. It has been stigmatized for centuries but also has covert prestige, that is, it is a badge of identity for its speakers. Cockney is famous for its rhyming slang, much of which is humorous such as trouble and strife = wife. Cockney also includes back slang, that is, words pronounced backwards. The most famous example is the word yob = boy. Nowadays, yob is a synonym of hooligan.


Cockney vowels are slightly different from RP. For example the RP /ʌ/ is more open /æ̙/. Some of the diphthongs are wider than in RP. For many people this is the most characteristic feature of the Cockney accent. For example, /ʌʊ/ in GOAT words instead of /əʊ/ and /ʌɪ/ in FACE words instead of /eɪ/.


One of the main characteristics of Cockney –although also found in many other parts of the UK- is the presence of the glottal stop instead of the /t/ sound. We can see examples in 1 and 2: the final /t/ in what, get, out and it.

H-dropping is also prevalent. See has he in example 4.

J-dropping is also found as in American English. See the example with news

The use of /v/ for /ð/ and /f/ for /θ/ is characteristic of this accent. See brother and something.

There is an example of Cockney rhyming slang in example 3. The word butchers’ is an abbreviation of butcher's hook which rhymes with look. Other examples are plates of meat = feet, apples and pears = stairs