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A LONDON LANGUAGE.

[From tub l Rocket.'] The costers are a peculiar and distinct feature of London life. In dress, speech, habit, and custom they stand aloneT and form the largest and most broadly marked class of dwellers in Modern Babylon. Like the gipsies, the costers are of ancient lineage. For oyer four hundred years they have traded in London; indeed, the coster who to-day "pitches" his barrow at a certain place day by day, or maybe on a certain fixed day, only copies the tradesra?n J .. £$ who Btood at h j« shop door and cried What d'ye lack ?" at the same time inviting purchase. In fact, the coster is a legitimate descendant of these bygone traders. Ben Jonson mentions costardmongers in his plays, while Dr Johnson derives the word from " costard "—a species l of apple which web sold in the streets. This l derivation is upheld by Knight in his London,' wherein he writes that "the costard-monger was originally an apple i 6™ /Shakespeare, Ford, and Beaumont and lletcher all mention the coster, though in by no means a complimentary way. Contempt seems to have been meted out with a liberality and injustice in the past that is in a minimum degree less to-day. But with the advent of Albert Chevalier, Gus Elen, Tom Costello, and a host of imitators who immortalised the coster in, song, that individual may bo said to have, become elevated to a pedestal of famewhich has gamed him a certain quantumof respect and admiration—for your true coster is, with whatever faults and failings he may possess, a hardworking, honest toiler. And these costers have a lancuaae of their own. Not that which is commonly designated "Billingsgate," but a language of a harmless nature. There is «nothina very remarkable about it, its chief eharactenstio being a palpable kind of back spelJipg. In money matters a coster will speak of a halfpenny as a " Hatch," while "cen" is a shilling; but " teaich-guy» is eight shillings.- "Couter" means a sovereign, net-gen" passes for half a sovereign, half a crown being given the somewhat unpronounceable term " flatchynork. A curious method of expressine multiples is shown by " erth-ewff-gens," meaning fifteen shillines. "A doooEeuo" means " a good market"; "dabheno, s a bad one. "A regular troßseno " stands for "a regular bad one." "y ea " and "no" are represented by ««on " and " say." " Tumble to your barrikin" expresses "understand you." "Flash it" signifies "show it.'' "Cross chap" means "a thief." "Showfuls "is an equivalent for bad money. ««Do thetightner"—a. very expressive term, the derivation of which it is not difflonlt to* understand—means "go to dinner." "Nom. rrms stands for "be off," and " Tol" is a "share." Such terms as "Round the ouaes" (trousers), "beano" («pree), "pear* hes" (buttons), "Old Dutch "(wife, o? old woman), "docks » (fists), " splosh »(money), and the like, will be familiar to mm people. _

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18971106.2.38.34

Bibliographic details

A LONDON LANGUAGE., Evening Star, Issue 10464, 6 November 1897, Supplement

Word Count
477

A LONDON LANGUAGE. Evening Star, Issue 10464, 6 November 1897, Supplement

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