Cockney translators and interpreters wanted!

20th Dec 2013

The “real” Londoner, a Cockney, is whoever is born close enough to hear the church bells of St. Mary Le Bow.

The term “Cockney'” comes from a 14th Century term, “cock's egg” and was used by rural people to refer to Londoners, people from the city. Later on, this term started to be associated with working class Londoners and it lost its once denigrating qualities. Today it indicates natives of London and their language, or dialect according to some experts.

Cockney speakers have a distinctive accent and dialect, and occasionally use rhyming slang, which makes even the simplest sentence unintelligible for non-Cockneys.

A clear (and very tiny) example in literature is Charles Dickens (but we could name so many  19th-century authors); in his "The Pickwick Papers"  Cockney speakers use the "w" sound for "v", which is quite confusing..

In, Mr. Pickwick's servant Sam Weller is actually Veller, according to his father, speaking in a court scene. Sam is asked to spell out his name, and his father calls out: "Spell it wiv a wee, Sammy boy, spell it wiv a wee!"

An example of a Cockney sentence can be:

'Allo me old china - wot say we pop round the Jack. I'll stand you a pig and you can rabbit on about your teapots. We can 'ave some loop and tommy and be off before the dickory hits twelve.

…that translated into English for non-Cockney speakers becomes:

Hello my old mate (china plate) - what do you say we pop around to the bar (Jack Tar). I'll buy you a beer (pig's ear) and you can talk (rabbit and pork) about your kids (teapot lids). We can have some soup (loop the loop) and supper (Tommy Tucker) and be gone before the clock (hickory dickory dock) strikes twelve.

This is just a tiny part of what Cockney really is, why not get into it and start some classes to be more of a Londoner?


If you need any help with any language or dialect, please contact our team of linguists on 020 7253 7700 or email

Celeste Conte, Interpreting Booking Co-ordinator


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