Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day 2322 - Rhyming Slang

Are we losing the art of rhyming slang?
Are there any other Deep Fried Aussies out there who grew up in a place where "hey China, take a butcher's at this" made perfect sense?

My Dad and his brothers are all about the rhyming.  For some reason the actual words required to finish a sentence aren't as appealing as their poetic partners.  So you've either got to learn the art of rhyming slang, or give in to a life without communication.

Apparently last night on "I'm a Celebrity Get me Outta Here" (I say 'apparently' because I haven't personally watched the current season) Anthony Callea was left a little perplexed when another contestant made reference to needing a "Robert Flower".

For anyone brought up by rough and tumble country Aussie blokes, you'd know that he was in fact referring to the need for a shower.  It's perfectly obvious isn't it?

But for anyone who hasn't experienced rhyming slang, I guess you could be left feeling very befuddled.

Some of the phrases I grew up with are:

  • Butcher's hook = Look.  "Have a butcher's at this mate!"
  • China plate = Mate. "How's my China plate?" or "Hello China!"
  • Dead horse = Tomato sauce.  "Got any dead horse?"
  • Dog and bone = Phone.  "Pass me the dog and bone and I'll give this bloke a ring."
  • Oxford scholar = Dollar.  "It'll only cost ya an Oxford scholar" 
  • Bag of fruit = Suit.  "What do I wear to the wedding, my bag of fruit?"
  • Frog and toad = Road.  "It's time to hit the frog and toad."
Any of these sentences on their own are sure to perplex even the most educated among us if they've never been privy to rhyming slang.  

I know my dad has confused my American friends on numerous occasions with his vernacular. Hell, he's confused many an Aussie too if they're not from the bush.  

When I heard that Anthony Callea had no clue as to what his fellow Aussie was on about, it occurred to me we might be losing the art of rhyming slang.  

My kids have some idea because they're having to decipher their Pop's conversations (with a lot of help from their Deep Fried mum).  

But with every new generation, it's possible that some of our trademark Aussie -isms might be disappearing.

I have to be honest, it's not something I ever use in my own conversations. But I do love hearing my dad use it.  It's just so HIM. 

Are we losing the art of rhyming slang?

And if we are, is that such a bad thing?

Did you ever have to "hit the frog and toad" when you were a kid?

Tell me: What rhyming slang words do you know?


  1. My father in law has many of these...
    Round the Johhnie horner (corner)
    Pull up your Andy Knox (Socks)
    I think they are crazy, but the little guy loves them.

  2. I had heard of some of these (through my long lost Pop) but not many. I do think that we are losing this art which is a pity because it is so quintessentially Australian. But hopefully we are now becoming clearer in communication with our overseas friends!

  3. I thought I was pretty much up with them and knew most of them but I will confess to not knowing 'Robert Flower'! Haha...

    I think it is a lost art sadly... Have you seen the ads on telly for those tradie undies with the rugby union player? So funny!

  4. I think we are losing it. Globalisation, maybe. BUT that also means that those who love it cling ever so tighter to it.
    I think it gets hilarious when it's a double barrel rhyme, and the rhyming bit gets dropped. Just like with butcher's. "It's rhyming slang for look!" "Butcher's doesn't rhyme with look!" Too funny.
    (I'd never heard Robert Flower. But I don't think we'll ever lose frog and toad, nor, unfortunately, trouble and strife.

  5. I actually hadn't heard a lot of those words and phrases so maybe it's a bit geographically specific (like the potato cake vs scallop vs ?) thing.

    But yes... I think it's the influence from o/s sources (and less UK and more US now) plus it's probably just the norm that habits and colloquialisms change over the years...

  6. I haven't heard of all these either.
    Dead horse is so funny.
    I love rhyming slang with my kids - time for bed Fred.
    Ready Freddie.
    It is a lost art.

  7. I've heard 'dead horse', when I was younger working in a shop, someone asked me for a dogs eye with dead horse. Of course I was dumbfounded, he actually wanted a pie with sauce. I don't hear it at all these days, most of those old ocker slangers are dying off and the modern slang is taking over.

  8. My boys would like at me sideways if I told them they had to put on a bag of fruit. And dead horse on their pasta? Lol... I love hearing expressions like these "from away". #fybf


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