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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cockney to disappear from London 'within 30 years'

Pearly king and queen
Cockney has been spoken in London for more than 500 years

The Cockney accent will disappear from London's streets within 30 years, according to new research.

A study by Paul Kerswill, Professor of Sociolinguistics at Lancaster University shows the Cockney accent will move further east.

In London, Cockney will be replaced by Multicultural London English - a mixture of Cockney, Bangladeshi and West Indian accents - the study shows.

"It will be gone within 30 years," says Prof Kerswill.


The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, says the accent ,which has been around for more than 500 years, is being replaced in London by a new hybrid language.

The new accent, known in slang terms as Jafaican, is most famously spoken by rap star Dizzee Rascal.

"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," Prof Kerswill says.

Prof Paul Kerswill on the new London language

Traditional Cockneys have moved out of the capital and into the surrounding counties of Essex and Hertfordshire, especially towns such as Romford and Southend, the study suggests.

In these areas, the accent and the culture continues to thrive and many teenagers still proudly claim their Cockney roots, according to the study.

"It has been transplanted to these towns," says Prof Kerswill.

To mark the change, Kings Place, an arts centre based in central London's Kings Cross, is asking Londoners to talk to elderly relatives and contribute Cockney poetry and phrases to an archive.

The study, called Multicultural London English: the emergence, acquisition and diffusion of a new variety, is due to be published in early 2011.