Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday 30 July 2011

Would you Adam and Eve it?

Two nations divided by a common language we may be, but anyone watching Torchwood this week - 'I think you mean ATM and gas station; oh, and we call them chips' - could be forgiven for thinking they were laying it on a bit thick.

One thing, however, that has not made it across the pond is a particular sort of wordplay. Spoonerism seems unknown (or the Pitt menage would surely never named their child Shiloh) and more people would recognize Klingon than Cockney rhyming slang; something abundantly illustrated by a shop window display that caused the Spouse much ill-mannered hilarity during a trip into town this morning.

The usual photos of WASPs frolicking on windswept New England beaches embellished a selection of items from Ralph Lauren's new label rejoicing in the title of 'The Big Pony'.

Didn't anyone check*? Surely among all the trendy types orchestrating Lauren's UK campaign, someone should have realised that when many Londoners use the word 'pony', they are not actually referring to equus ferus caballus - or even to the sum of £25 -  but to something altogether more fundamental.

Not exactly the image you want associated with your perfume, is it? Or perhaps it's only people like me and the Spouse - and Pavlov's Cat with another example - who find this sort of thing funny and as we aren't the target audience anyway, who cares?

*Those bemused by all this will find enlightenment in the section 'Rhyming slang and taboo terms' in Wikipedia's article. Rhyming slang is a constantly evolving form reflecting a certain dry humour; for example, the 1980s saw people referring to 'a Cynthia' when they meant a cane (following the trial of one Cynthia Payne for running a house of ill repute which catered for such interests).


  1. Ta for the link.

    It's true about the constantly evolving, when I was working in 'The City' £2000 became known briefly an 'an Archer' after the amount Jeff paid off the prossie

  2. Thanks, Cat; I had forgotten about the 'Archer'; I suspect we may have been moving in similar circles in 1986.

  3. "...most of us - even the frequently bilingual Welsh - have a basic grasp of American vocabulary thanks to the wonders of motion pictures and the wireless."

    I wanted to know when they got a chance to charge all those new mobile phones they bought before they set off to save the world!

  4. Good point, Julia M - and here's another; the Urchin has been wondering how it is that, while the 'miracle' prevents people losing consciousness through injury, the team manage to knock out a security guard.


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