THE COCKNEY accent, the style of speech most associated with London, particularly its East End, is bound for the knackers yard, according to a new study.
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“It will be gone within 30 years,” said Paul Kerswill, Professor of Sociolinguistics at Lancaster University.
“In much of the East End the Cockney dialect will have disappeared within another generation. People in their 40s will be the last generation to speak it.”
The disappearance of Cockney from London is due to both incoming and outgoing population movements, says the professor, whose report, Multicultural London English: the emergence, acquisition and diffusion of a new variety – a mouthful in any accent – comes out next year.
As hundreds of thousands of former Eastenders have moved out to Essex and Kent in recent decades, they have been replaced by a mix of African, Afro-Caribbean and Asian newbies who have had a major effect on speech patterns.
“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,” said Professor Kerswill.
In everday parlance this Multicultural London English is sometimes called Jafaican.
Cockney has starred in famous TV and film productions. It is still the lingua franca of top-rated soap EastEnders, made a mangled appearance on the lips of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins and is occasionally used by Bart Simpson of The Simpsons to this day.
Linked to Kerswill’s study, they’re having a Cockney poetry competition at the Kings Place art centre in Kings Cross, where anyone can send in their own contribution to the Cockney cannon.