Is Cockney Dead?
I spotted this scrawling a while ago on a wall in the East End of London. Now, I have no idea who wrote this – and like many good pieces of graffiti it doesn’t offer any explanation about why exactly it was written. But any current resident of London can, of course, take a good guess.
Over the last few months I’ve spoken to Londoners about the Cockney accent – its history, what it means to people, and where it’s heading. This is being produced for my first Finding Voices podcast – keep an ear out for that very soon.
The ‘Multicultural London English’ Accent
My most recent blog post touches on an accent that has become increasingly heard throughout the capital, and now beyond. What was once thought of as a ‘wannabe gangsta’ accent (much credit due to Ali G) has quite rightly been accepted for what it is: a dialect that reflects the true diversity of this city. But where does that leave the Cockneys? Are they being kicked out of the city …??
It’s no secret that many Cockney families have dispersed out of London – particularly since the end of the Second World War. You might be more likely to hear the accent in Kent these days than in Bethnal Green. Rather interestingly, while researching the podcast I found out that this outward movement isn’t as new a trend as you might think.
Either way, though: Are there any Cockneys left? And if so, where are they? What do they think about changes to their communities over the years?
Is Cockney Dead?
Within a matter of days, those words of ‘Spot The Cockney’ had been sprayed over with something else. Quite fitting, perhaps – London always seems to be moving on.
Maybe walking the streets of the UK’s capital city feels like a game of Spot The Cockney to you? And to all you Cockneys out there: are you still in London, or a member of the growing diaspora?
Leave a comment below – it would be great to hear your thoughts and experiences.