What is a Cockney Accent?

What is a Cockney Accent?

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What is a Cockney Accent? Michael Caine at Viennale 2012. Photo of Manfred Werner / Tsui, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons. Available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michael_Caine_-_Viennale_2012_g.jpg

If you’ve been asking yourself, ‘what is a cockney accent?’, this GoLocalise article will be helpful to you. 

The cockney accent is one of the major accents and dialects spoken in London and historically is associated with the working-class culture of the capital. 

It is a very unique accent, most known for ‘cockney rhyming slang’. Cockney slang, which originated in east London, is an expression that rhymes with a word instead of the word itself. 

Apples and pears’ for example, rhymes with ‘stairs’ and is a humorous play on words in cockney rhyming slang. Find out more about the cockney accent, the British Slang, and how Golocalise can help with your British English voice over project.

Where is the Cockney Accent From?

For anybody who wants to hear an authentic cockney accent, and really know what is a cockney accent you will need to travel to east London. In the 14th century, ‘cockney’ was used to refer to an egg; the word ‘cock’ referred to a chicken. In 1520, the word began to mean ‘town dwellers’. 

The ‘East End’ of London is home to locals who have the accent, which is depicted in the popular UK TV series, Eastenders

You’ll love this post about the impact of the different English Accents on Pop Culture. Check it out!

The East End of London covers a large area including Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Stepney, Wapping, and Hackney amongst other districts. 

In all of the places listed above, you would likely find the locals to speak in the cockney dialect

Now that we’ve answered the question of where does a cockney accent come from in London, we can move on to all you need to know about speaking this British English accent.

How to Speak with a Cockney Accent?

If you want to try and learn how to speak in a cockney accent, there are a few tips to keep in mind! The cockney accent is one of the strongest accents in the UK, so you’ll need to step into the role.

Luckily, there are many famous movie and TV characters that you can observe to get a real feel for how the cockney accent should be spoken. And, of course, you can always listen to real ‘cockneys’ speaking too. 

Michael Caine is a great example of an actor who has a genuine cockney accent. From listening to his accent, you’ll notice a number of things:

●      The sound ‘th’ is replaced with ‘f’ – ‘think about it’ becomes ‘fink about it’ this is known as th-fronting

●      The letter ‘h’ is dropped from the beginning of words – ‘hospital’ becomes ‘ospital’

●      The letter ‘t’ is omitted from words – ‘water’ becomes ‘wa’er’ this is known as a glottal stop

●      The sound of vowels in words becomes deeper

With the above information, you can have a go at speaking cockney yourself! Though, you might want to watch an episode or two of Eastenders, to get your cockney accent perfect. 

Try saying ‘I had to go to the hospital, because I thought I wasn’t well’. You should pronounce the sentence: ‘I ad to go to the ospital, because I fought I was’n well’.

Cockney Rhyming Slang

Now that you know what is a cockney accent, let’s dive into the reason why cockneys are so infamous, it’s got to be because of their quirky dialect, which includes cockney rhyming slang

For anybody outside of east London, cockney rhyming slang can be quite tricky to get your head around; it can be difficult to keep up with a dialect when so many words are spoken in rhyme!

With ‘door’ being a ‘bobby moore’ and ‘phone’ being ‘dog and bone’, you’ll probably need to get your hands on a cockney rhyming slang dictionary in order to learn all there is to know. 

Market traders, sellers of fruit and vegetables from handcarts, and street hawkers invented cockney rhyming slang in the 1840s. 

It was likely originally used as a ‘cant’, a type of language used to disguise the content of what was being said.

If you’re wondering how would you spell who in a cockney accent, how cockney sounds vs a proper English accent, or if you’re still not sure what is a cockney accent, you can use a cockney online slang translator.

Native British English Voice Actors

GoLocalise, an English Voice Over Agency, can help you with any audiovisual projects where you wish to use an authentic East London accent because they know what is a Cockney Accent! (and Received Pronunciation, Brummie, Irish, and Scouse Accents as well!)

We are a London based voice over agency (it’s our drum and bass), and we have a wide range of voice actors (like Louise) and state-of-the-art studios.

We know exactly how to bring your project to life! If you’d like further information about our services or a quote, fill in this form and our lovely team will get back to you as soon as possible.

What is a cockney accent? Now you know the answer!

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