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Do you speak Cockney?

Vertrauen Sie nicht darauf, dass Ihre Geschäftspartner feinstes Oxford-Englisch sprechen. Iren schludern das "th", Geordies sagen "aye" statt "yes". Ausländer haben mit lokalen Slangs oft ihre liebe Not.
You've finished your English course and are ready for your new job in Britain. Your teacher spoke wonderful English - the Queen's English, BBC English, Oxford English - and you now can't wait to go.When you arrive, however, you discover three problems: the Queen is not there to talk to you; the voices on the BBC sound very different to that of your teacher; and you are not in Oxford. Instead, you are in London and hear a variety of accents and dialects, including these sentences:

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1. Much obliged!
2. I taught that was finished.
3. Which areal do you work in?
4. Can you call the way-er?
5. Could you raise that a wee bit?
6. Can I 'ave a butchers?
7. You're 'aving a laugh. Free fahzn's our best offer.
8. Aye man, I got three bonny bairns.
Let's look at these more closely:1. If you are "obliged" to do something, you have to do it. However, the expression "much obliged" is a common way of saying "thank you", used, for example, by London taxi drivers.2. "Taught" seems clear: the past tense of "teach". Only that doesn't make any sense here. That's because the word you heard was not "taught" at all - it was "thought" ("I thought that was a deal"). Irish people often say the "th" sound at the start of words more like a "t". Another typical feature of Hiberno English (irisches Englisch) is the use of the present tense rather than the present perfect: "I'm here three years" instead of "I've been here three years". Also, "I'm just after +ing" means "I've just"; for example, "I'm just after visiting him" means "I've just visited him".3. Here, the problem is the word "areal". In the west of England, around Bristol, there is a tendency to put an "l" on the end of many words ending in a vowel. So, instead of "area", you say "areal", and instead of "idea", you say "ideal" ("That's a good ideal"). This "l" is not used in writing.4. This is a feature of cockney, the traditional language of east London, and of Estuary English, originally found along the estuary (Flussmündung) of the River Thames. A "glottal stop" - a stopping action in the glottis, the upper throat - is used instead of the letters "t", "p" and "k" in the middle and at the end of words. So "waiter" sounds like "way-er", and "water" sounds like "war-er". This feature has now spread more widely, particularly among middle class people who don't want to sound too posh (vornehm).5. The Scottish expression "a wee bit" is used to mean "a little bit". "Wee" is also typically used in the north of England and in Ireland.6. Here, the problem is "butchers". This is an example of "cockney rhyming slang"- a code of speaking wherein a common word can be replaced by a well-known phrase which rhymes with that word. So "butchers" is short for "butcher's hook", which rhymes with "look". In other words: "Can I have a look?" Other examples of this rhyming slang are "loaf" to mean "head" (loaf = "loaf of bread" = head) and "dog" to mean "phone" (dog = "dog and bone" = phone). So "use your loaf" means "use your head/brain", and "I'll get on the dog to him" means "I'll phone him".7. The first sentence is a common London expression, meaning "you're pulling my leg" (du nimmst mich auf den Arm). Note that it is typical for the "h" to be dropped at the start of words beginning with a vowel, for example, "(h)ospital", "(h)eart", "(h)arm". Also, the two words "you're" and "aving" would be run together to sound like "youraving". In the second sentence, "free" is a typical cockney pronunciation of "three", and "thousand" sounds more like "fahzn".8. "Aye man" is a typical way of saying "yes" in Geordie, the language of north-east England, around Newcastle. "Bonny" and "bairns" are used in both Geordie and Scottish English to mean "fine"/ "good looking" and "children". In other words, "Yes, I've got three fine children".English? Piece o' cake, innit? ("Easy, isn't it?") More about the various dialects and accents in Britain and Ireland can be found in chapter two of The Oxford Guide to World English by Tom McArthur (Oxford University Press).Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur des Englisch-Magazins Business Spotlight.
i.mcmaster@spotlight-verlag.de
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 26.07.2004