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Mockney for Mods - how to speak the lingo

Everyone knows that the first language of mods is chirpy “mockney” banter, whether you hail from Mile End or Monte Carlo, Bethnal Green or Boston, Walthamstow or Washington DC. To that end Uppers are supplying this handy guide, and glossary of terms

Mockney for Mods - how to speak the lingoMastering this language will lend a certain authority to your patter, and impress both friends and business associates. Your casual inclusion of a few well-chosen words and phrases will wow impressionable young members of the opposite sex and gain you entrée to select night clubs and discotheques in far-flung corners of the globe. For truly, mockney is the language of the modernist jet-set, a new Esperanto for a new century.

Mockney is more than just standard east-end London Cockney.
It requires panache, a style, that certain something that just sets some people apart as "special". Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins is a good model. Damon Allbran, from popular pop group Blur, is a definite and practised master of the art. Likewise Jamie Oliver, TV's Naked Chef, has that certain something in his voice that really makes you sit up. But you don't need a tongue, or a wallet quite as fat as Jamie's to start dropping your H's and slurring your words.

Many in the former colonies of America have already become aware of the instant cool conferred on a chap by his use of the mockney patter, and have exchanged it for the pleasures of their native tongue. Having experienced those pleasures first hand, it would be unfair of me to attribute any blame to this choice. Likewise Mockney is a popular choice among the "Upper Crusty" sect of contemporary Britain, where Rufus, Toby and friends have learned to abandon perceived notions of how the landed gentry should speak, act, and smell.

On paper we might all wish that we had the good fortune to have been born into authentic poverty in the slums of London Town. However, in practical terms this might prove difficult, especially with the attendant risks - rickets, the ague, being forced up chimneys, etc. Attractive as being runty and malnourished (just like the original mods!) might sound, this is perhaps a little far to go for authenticity. Fortunately it is now possible to mimic the patter of a genuine "ropey geezer" from the "dodgy" part of town without actually having to alter one's lineage, or spend learning lunches with one's charwoman. Be you posh nob or simply curious Yank, the language is just waiting to be adopted. Read on, and see if you don't learn a thing or two, me precious hearties.

A Mockney Glossary
Cheers: Hello, I am in fine spirits. How do you fare? What say you - shall we drink?
(n.b., cheers is a multi-purpose greeting, salutation, thanks, and farewell, and is appropriate in any given situation one can name. It is not possible to over-use this word, so make sure you say it loudly and often.)

Mate: Old friend, casual acquaintance, passing chimmney sweep, etc. (Indeed, "mate" might refer to anyone one might know. Like "cheers", it is impossible to over-use this word, and the more you say it the more your peers will be aware of your authentic Mockney mastery.)

Wotcha: Salutations. I trust the day finds you well?

Cock: Chum, pal. To be used advisedly and with care. "Wotcha Cock" is perfectly acceptable, while the innocent question "And will your cock be joining us tonight?" may be considered a faux pas.

Cor: I say!

Blimey: Well I never. This is a proper surprise. (n.b: Blimey is a very strong swearword, and should be used advisedly, and never in mixed company.)

Oi!: You there, desist and pay me attention immediately or I shall be forced to call a constable.

Innit: Wouldn't you agree?

Not On Your Nelly: Given present conditions, your suggestion is so unlikely to find favour that it's very airing seems mere folly on your part.

Toodle-pip!: Cheerio!

Shut it!: That's quite enough of that talk for now, thank you.

Arse: Hard work. (e.g.: "I say mates, this is a bit of an arse, what?")

Sod: Person of low character, to whom the sobriquet "mate" can most definitely not be applied.

Kiddy-fiddler: Person of ill repute.

Bird: Lady of no particular repute.

Pukka: Please punch me in the nose.

Jam Jar: Jar in which preserved fruit is to be found.

Fish: Rhyming Slang. Fish and chip = chippy = hippy.

Jarvis: Rhyming Slang. Jarvis=cocker= door knocker.

Damon: Toff. Of obscure origin.

Britpop: Rhyming slang. Britpop = drop, e.g. "I hear Shed Seven have been Britpopped from their record label."

Further Study
Many texts contain valuable lessons in the art of the language. Records by Blur et al give a real flavour of the Mockney culture. Oliver Twist is a good starting point for Dickensian street-urchin chat, as are any films by Guy Ritchie. Guy and Maddy are actually a sterling example of the art of "talking down" and Mr. Madonna can be relied on to speak in an accent wholly at odds with his actual upbringing.

Let his example be a lesson to all: the right accent is yours by rights, whether you were born to it or not. In the spirit of self creation, a Californian teen has as much right to "cheers mate" as a Londoner does to "Ciao", a Scotsman to "cool, dude" and me to "I say! What a rotter!"

© Richard Hutt 2001 - 2014
[Published 12 June 2001]
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About the author

Richard likes all the same crap as everyone else. In all things he emulates the man on the "Mastermind" box.

He greatly admires Eugene Balk, and has a napkin signed by Terence Stamp.

Richard's book "The Much Calmer Sutra" was published in 2005 by New Holland Publishers (UK). Get your copy of The Much Calmer Sutra hereclick here

More info and other articles by this authorMore about this author


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Comments:
Dave the Rave (aka Simon)apr 5 2007 7:48PM
http://www.simoncolquhoun.co.uk
Bleedin' 'ell, I use a load of that twaddle already and I'm from West Laahndan. Bemused by the 'Jam-Jar' definition, to me that means 'car'. There's one word that people innocently use quite a lot and that is to call someone a 'berk'. It's derived from the 'Berkeley Hunt', you can work the rest out for yourself.....
Daddyrollin'stoneaug 24 2003 7:44PM
http://none
lol
I think the point of saying 'pukka=punch me in the face' is a nod in the direction of a very annoying chef person who wears a parka, rides a scooter and insists on making public some cool underground tunes in his sell-out advertisements. If you see this Jamie Oliver creature, please be sure to kick him off of his scooter.
"Be cool, won't you"
JohnnyBoyaug 30 2002 5:01AM
Nice!
But oi! Pukka= "excellent", innit?
(Pukka being an Indian word (pashtu? hindi?) meaning "good", "bravo" etc, either picked up by British military serving in India or brought to England by immigrants)
Pete Baileymar 17 2002 9:33PM
Hansom idea 'avin an article on lyricks, (slang)'cause the cats n chicks'll(youngsters) know what the eboneezeers & dames (old hands)are gassin' over (talking about) anyhow me ol' chinas(mates) what about chicken soup (Kosher)thats what this article is,not Cucumber sandwiches (unsavory).
martynnov 16 2001 10:05AM
outrageous, quite! Limey however; a qualifed mockney-term or not? Sound quite dashing.
Bengtaug 9 2001 10:20AM
For more outragous cockney see HUMAN TRAFFIC. I saw it on DVD and had to push the subtiteling button more than a couple of times.
The Ellis Bellejun 13 2001 10:37AM
My judge, Jules> Re. request for Dad's little girl's dictionary factette on 'Water Carve-Up' (groan). At a particularly sorry point in that proper charlie Oliver's advertising supermarket sweep, the said naked celebrity was depicted travelling to some nebulous far-flung clime in order to purchase buffalo milk with the (probably apochryphal) assumption 'It makes pukka mozzarella, mate!'. Upon his return, he discovers that this cheese of squashy tasteless cheeses is available for £25000 in Sainsbury's. He proceeds to pawn his new wife's Jimmy Choo shoes and chows down.....(allegedly).
Jarvis C.jun 13 2001 4:37AM
I refuse to comment
Brian Poustjun 13 2001 1:44AM
Re: Oi! Richard....just how often do skinheads call the constibles, anyway? Unimportant, but it had to be pointed out.
Richard Karströmjun 12 2001 10:42PM
http://www.uppers.net/article.asp?articl
e=190
Jem> The "Straight from the fridge, Dad" dictionary has indeed been reviewed here on uppers. See link above. Don't say that we don't cover everything cool on this website.
jem sjun 12 2001 9:52PM
bloomin' eck that richard he goes on doesn't he.
if you're in a right 2 and 8 over the above then you hardcore slang fellas should give this the once over:"The Cassell Dictionary of Slang - Jonathon Green". Alternatively pre mod types should give this a butchers "Straight from the Fridge, Dad - Max Decharne". Amazon can sort you out. Meself I'm still arguing with the boy himself over the absence of my dads fave put down "you burke". Although as he was brought up in a council flat in woolwich then he's a real cockney and no mistake. And what about
palaver: ie: a right bit of bother.

Stuart A.jun 12 2001 4:44PM
Indeed a thorough and entertaining piece of linguistic analysis! Sitting in my beach-house, watching the californian sun set, I do miss the London fog. But what can you do, an exile is an exile. Once again, great work Richard!
Julesjun 12 2001 3:39PM
The Ellis Belle> With the help of Richards splendid guide, I managed to decipher everything in your posting up until the part about slicing buffalos...

Nice work Richard! (and could someone please explain what a "pukka sahib" is? Is it a gentleman about to be challenged in a pugilistic manner? Or something completely different?

ehh... cheers!?!
The Ellis Bellejun 12 2001 3:06PM
Gor Blimey guvna you're a diamond geezer and no mistake! Nair, Aw betta move my bleedin arse if awm ta mistress this local flava an git maw modthenticity than mai betta arf, o's pulled by the andle of 'Cock o' the North'. Maybe our chervilly pukkered spiral staircase-slider can organise a Gordon Blue Mastercourse? Wiv kind arts an coronets, your skin an blister in sartorial style, The Nigella Kennedy of Norf Lairndan. P.S. Ai suggest yar enjoying more than a tolerable advantage, what, seeing that Jamie Ol Chap is your next door neighbour! Go slice a buffalo or two and Sainbury's will never be the same again...
Joeljun 12 2001 11:36AM
Look bruv, all this larking about taking the mickey out of London boys ain't on, alright? Just coz they speak a bit different don't mean they're mugs, know what I mean? I mean give me strength, really........
John Rjun 12 2001 10:55AM
Brilliant, excellent, lovely, top rate or should that be top shelf? -Nah. but "brill" all the same.
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