Cockney alphabet

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The Cockney alphabet, also known as the Surrealist alphabet,[1] is a humorous recital of the alphabet, parodying the way the alphabet is taught to small children. The humour comes from forming unexpected words and phrases from the names of the various letters of the alphabet.[2][3]

Clapham and Dwyer version[edit]

In the 1930s, the comedy double act Clapham and Dwyer recorded the following version:

A for 'orses (hay for horses)
B for mutton (beef or mutton)
C for 'th highlanders (Seaforth Highlanders)
D for 'ential (deferential)
E for Adam (Eve or Adam)
F for 'vescence (effervescence)
G for police (Chief of police)
H for respect (age for respect)
I for Novello (Ivor Novello)
J for oranges (Jaffa oranges)
K for 'ancis, (Kay Francis), or K for undressing
L for leather (Hell for leather)
M for 'sis (emphasis)
N for 'adig (in for a dig, or infradig)
O for the garden wall (over the garden wall)
P for a penny (pee for a penny)
Q for a song (cue for a song), or Q for billiards (cue for billiards)
R for mo' (half a mo')
S for you (it's for you)
T for two (tea for two)
U for films (UFA films)
V for La France (Vive La France)
W for a bob (double you for a bob)
X for breakfast (eggs for breakfast)
Y for Gawd's sake (why, for God's sake)
Z for breezes (zephyr breezes: see West wind)

Alternative versions[edit]

There are many alternative 'definitions' offered for each letter, some of which include:

A for effort (school report comment to encourage a student who is never going to excell but tries hard)
A for gardner (Ava Gardner)
B's for honey (bee's for honey)
B for stew (beef or stew)
B for you go (before you go)
C for miles (see for miles)
C for ships (sea for ships)
C for yourself (see for yourself)
D for dumb (deaf or dumb)
D for 'cate (defecate)
D for 'mation (deformation)
D for 'ential (differential, as part of a vehicle)
E for brick (heave a brick)
E for castle (Hever Castle)
E for 'ning Standard (Evening Standard)
E for 'or (either or)
F for but don't get her pregnant (or F' her I'll kill you)
G for crying out loud (gee, for crying out loud)
H for beauty (age before beauty)
H for consent (age for consent)
H for a film (age for a film)
H for scratch (itch for scratch)
H for it (Hate ye for it)
I for an eye (eye for an eye)
I for the Engine (Ivor the Engine)
I for the ladies (Eye for the ladies)
I for or (either / or)
I for knack for nickin' off (I've a knack for nicking off)
K for 'teria (cafeteria)
K for Sutherland (Kiefer Sutherland)
K for a cuppa (care for a cuppa)
L for 'bet' (alphabet)
N for 'lope (envelope)
N for 'lade (enfilade)
N for 'lid' (invalid)
N for eggs
O for crying out loud (oh, for crying out loud)
O for the wings of a dove (oh, for the wings of a dove)
O for the rainbow (over the rainbow)
O for my dead body (over my dead body)
P for relief (pee for relief)
P for 'ming seals (performing seals)
P for nanny (pee for nanny)
P for a whistle (pea for a whistle)
Q for chips (queue for chips)
Q for a theatre (queue for a theatre)
Q for tickets (queue for tickets)
Q for hours (queue for hours)
Q for almost everything (queue for almost everything)
Q for a pee (queue for a pee)
Q for a bus (queue for a bus)
Q for snooker[4]
Q for the loo (queue for the loo)
R for Askey (Arthur Askey)
S for Rantzen (Esther Rantzen)
S for Williams (Esther Williams)
S for Costello (The Story of Esther Costello)
S for zando (Sforzando in music)
T for hurtin (Teeth are hurting)
T for chewin (Teeth for chewing)
U for 'mism (euphemism)
U for me (you for me)
W for quits (double you for quits)
W for a tenner (double you for a tenner)
Y for girlfriend (wife, or girlfriend?)
Y for Heaven's sake (why, for Heaven's sake)
Y for crying out loud (why, for crying out loud)
Y for Biscuit (wafer biscuit)[5]
Y for a husband (wife for a husband)
Y for mistress (wife or mistress)
Z for his hat (his head for his hat)
Z for a joke (said for a joke)
Z for Zodiac (Zephyr Zodiac Ford Zephyr)

Naming a dog "Deefer" (as was common in the '50s[citation needed]) is an example of the reverse of this phenomenon, based on interpreting the line D for dog in an everyday alphabet verse as "deefer dog". "Ceefer" as a name for a cat also appeared in Australia after the Second World War (C for cat) influenced by returning servicemen from England who has been exposed to the humour of the Cockney Alphabet.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Clapham & Dwyer, A Surrealist Alphabet. (Available on the CD You have to laugh, don't you?)
  2. ^ The definitive Cockney Alphabet, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 15, 2005 
  3. ^ Verbal frolics, Times Higher Education, 13 November 1998 
  4. ^ schott's miscellany
  5. ^ schott's miscellany