|Traditionally a Cockney is a Londoner “born within the sound of Bows [Church] Bells” — above is a Bows Bells mile marker|
It’s said that although England has dozens of dialects (“Sheffield” for actor Sean Bean, “Manchester” for actor Dominic Monaghan, “Leeds” for Scary Spice), Americans generally recognize only two — Cockney and the Received Pronunciation. For the latter, think of the Queen, or the Royal Shakespeare Company. For Cockney, there’s always Eliza Dolittle.
A person can speak Cockney (or, if they want to fake it in order to sound tougher and more legit, “Mockney”) and they can also be Cockney. The notion that true Cockneys were born within the sound of St.Mary-le-bow’s church bells is no longer true; the bells were destroyed in the Blitz of WW II, and since the church’s rebuilding, the surrounding neighborhood has ceased to be residential. Cockneys are working class folks, usually from London’s East End: places like Bethnal Green, Wapping, and Whitechapel (made infamous by Jack the Ripper).
|St. Mary-le-bow today|
The Rules of Cockney Speech
This is something I’ve been trying to master for awhile, so I could write the dialect phonetically, at least in places, when my working class characters speak. But frankly, reading the linguistic breakdown on Wikipedia makes me want to go reorganize my sock drawer. So here’s an alternative I hope to find helpful: