Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Mo' Money Mo' Problems Part 3: Market Slang

One of the best parts of being married to Ross is all of the random knowledge he has.
His dad was originally from London and was a born salesman with a larger-than-life feel, much like market traders of the olden days.

Because of that, Ross knows all kinds of cockney rhyming slang.  Now some rhyming slang is used commonly in England, but some is very unusual nowadays.  Interestingly, the people who use rhyming slang these days often don't even know the origin of the things they say.

I find rhyming slang endlessly fascinating, so I thought I'd take you through some of the ways it is used when talking about money.  Now it can be pretty confusing, so I'm going to try to walk you through the logic of it.  Here's an example:

 A £5 note can be called a "fiver".
Fiver (pronounced "fi-vah") rhymes with Godiva.
Lady Godiva.  The way rhyming slang works, you generally drop the word that actually rhymes and only use the part that doesn't.
A £5 note is a Lady.

And now, my absolute favourite bit of rhyming slang:
A commodore is £15.
Why?


A penny is known as a "clod".  Clod hopper.  Pennies are made of copper!
Ross says his dad would say that something was "not worth a clod".

Now, complicating things even further, the rules aren't set in stone.
Like sometimes the rhyming word doesn't get dropped:

A "cock and hen" is £10.

And then there are some names that have no known rhyme.  They are simply a type of code name for no known reason:

A pound has lots of names a "quid", "squid", "nicker" (pronounced nick-ah), "sovs" (short for sovereigns), "funt" (a derivative of the Yiddish/German word for pound)
A "score" is £20.
A "pony" is £25.  
A "monkey" is £500.

Now money in general has a few names as well:
Greens (because back when pounds were on paper they were green)
Readies (ready money, having cash on hand)

Now why all this weird talkin'?  I mean it's fun and all, but it seems like a lot of trouble....

Well no one really knows, but the theory is that the men who worked the market stalls used it to talk to each other so that the customers couldn't understand them.
Maybe we'll use it in front of our kids.  My grandparents spoke French in front of my dad and his siblings growing up in New Orleans.
Nah, I bet Ross would rather teach them and pass along the knowledge :)

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