Celebrate Cockney | Kings Place

Kings Place Event Calendar

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September 2014
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October 2015
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November 2015
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December 2015
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January 2016
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February 2016
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March 2016
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April 2016
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May 2016
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June 2016
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July 2016
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August 2016
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Travel to Kings Place

Celebrate Cockney

Celebrate Cockney with Kings Place!

Kings Place is seeking to celebrate London dialects old and new: asking Londoners to talk to elderly relatives and contribute Cockney poetry and phrases for performance at a future spoken word event.

In the 1700's a group of poets, including John Keats and Shelley, amongst others, were brought together under the moniker of the Cockney School because of their decision to make social statements through their poetry by using Cockney rhyming styles and idioms.

The term came in the form of hostile reviews in Blackwood's Magazine in 1817. Its primary target was Leigh Hunt but included John Keats and William Hazlitt.

To celebrate this linguistic history Kings Place is launching a competition asking cockneys to delve into their family archives to try and find poetry written by their relatives that uses the Cockney dialect.

Poems can be emailed to wordsonmonday@kingsplace.co.uk with performances of the poems being given by leading poets at a future Words on Monday event at Kings Place.

Poems will also be included in the research being carried out by Paul Kerswill, Professor of Sociolinguistics at Lancaster University - and author of a new study due to be published in early 2011 called Multicultural London English: the emergence, acquisition and diffusion of a new variety.

Research shows that Cockney will disappear from London's streets within a generation as speakers move further East and Multicultural London English becomes the dialect of modern London

New data and research by Kerswill suggests that the traditional Cockney speech form (a distinct accent and dialect) will disappear from London's streets within the next 30 years, moving to areas outside of the Capital and being replaced by Multicultural London English.

Over the past 30 years the world famous Cockney dialect, which has been spoken in London for more than half a millennia, has been transformed into a new hybrid language and dialect form called ‘Multicultural London English' with the original Cockney facing extinction within its city of origin. This new hybrid, known in slang terms as ‘Jafaican' is a mixture of elements of Cockney, Bangladeshi and West Indian. As a recognisable vocal reference point, it is most famously spoken by the rap star Dizzee Rascal.

At the same time the traditional Cockneys have moved out of the Capital and into surrounding regions of Essex and Hertfordshire, especially areas such as Romford and Southend, where the accent - and the culture - continues to thrive with many teenagers still proudly claiming their Cockney roots.

Paul Kerswill, Professor of Sociolinguistics at Lancaster University, says: "In much of the East End of London the Cockney dialect that we hear now spoken by older people will have disappeared within another generation. People in their 40's will be the last generation to speak it and it will be gone within 30 years."

"Cockney in the East End is now transforming itself into Multicultural London English, a new, melting-pot mixture of all those people living here who learnt English as a second language. 

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