Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A guide to speaking cockney: for all those w*nkers on the Internet

Ladies, gents and wankers who hide behind a pseudonym on twitter (I can swear without stars in the main body of the blog but the title gets screened by aggregating websites. Don't ask how I know this). I feel that it is my duty to present to you something of a guide to the correct use of the British form of the English language as spoken in London. Henceforth this shall be referred to as proper English.

We shall start with adjectives. On the mild end of the derisory spectrum (and let's face it the only words you need in another language are abusive ones) we have: "pants" - when used as an adjective this denotes something which is a little bit rubbish, quite annoying but not life changingly awful. We use it a lot to talk about the weather "cor it's been a pants summer again eh?"

Next up are nouns, first  comes the old classic "wanker" this one gets royally butchered by the wannabes out there. It's not a term of endearment. That's what "tosser" is for. It's a term of relatively grave insult. You wouldn't use it in front of someone over twice your age(unless you're 15 or younger). Common uses include "oi wanker let's take this outside" when initiating a traditional bar room brawl or the infamous football chant "the referee's a wanker".

Finally we have "Cunt", the piece de resistance of cockney swearing. This one seems to have been somewhat fetishized and retains its status as one of the few really offensive words (and yet cock isn't? i'd love to talk gender and power dynamics on this one, no really i would, hit me up on twitter.) everywhere outside working class England, and the parts of the world where working class England exported its most undesirable criminals (Hello Australia) where it is a term of mild endearment . once again this word has worked its way into the lexicon of football.

We then have "mate" which, although seemingly a term indicating friendship can often be used to index just the opposite. this ironic use of the word mate can often be heard in those same London bars where one customarily "steps outside": "if i were you mate i'd shut up"

All joking aside, the preoccupation with wiggins' language (and this is something i have also had laid on me) is a bourgeois liberal mid Atlantic middle class hoo haah. Growing up on terraces, in pubs and in fields and building sites around England this is simply the way people speak. To suggest that this comes from a limited vocabulary or linguistic capacity is asinine ( should you need proof, look at this bbc collection of football chants illustrates a linguistic capacity which most poets would envy) this is about the difference between what is implied and what is inferred. the intention of the authour can be distinct from the reception of the audience. We understand different things from the same word and this is where confusion arises.

Text is illegible without context and whilst reception is undoubtedly important, especially in high profile press interviews if we deem what he said inappropriate we're eliminating vocabulary through our claims to the right not to be offended. You're also playing into the hands of constraining debate and not making people accountable for what they say. Words themselves do not hold offense but the way that they are used does. Case in point, i'm wearing a T shirt which says fuck cancer - and a lady of not incosiderable age just hobbled over to tell me she thought it was great. Had i walked up and ordered a fucking cafe con leche, she likely would not have applauded my strength of conviction. context.  Obviously there are exceptions to this, at 19 I got beaten black and blue by BNP thugs because i  do not believe that pseudo-fascists have the right to hide behind free speech and pedal holocaust denial and hate speech. But this isn't hate speech it's just a different language than the one many people are used to, but they're upset, because it sounds the same.

 Ultimatley Bradley is a fantastic rider, a solid bloke and a product of his upbringing. If you don't understand that, you can't understand him. so before you jump to label speech as offensive think about intention. whilst Bradley clearly meant to condemn the people who bitch at him on the internet, his language was entirely appropriate to who he is an what he is saying, and you need to understand that before you jump on a middle class witch hunt bandwagon.


  1. I enjoy pretty much all of your posts, but this one was well written and edited. Guessing that you have more time at the moment than when you do a post on your phone, on the fly with your thumbs. (No sarcasm or insult intended) Nicely done! Will have to discuss the finer points of certain words next time I run into you!

    1. just saw the comment, thanks Nicole. im always happy to talk swearing (when little T isn't around!)