This re-issue of Julian Franklyn's classic dictionary not only defines these expressions but also explains their origin and history. An introductory essay examines the roots and development of rhyming slang. Although many people assume that rhyming slang is exclusively Cockney, Franklyn illustrates how it is common to Australian and Americn dialects.
From the unlikely to the bizarre, the 1,500 entries both entertain and enlighten. Cartoons enliven a reference section which combines linguistic detail and cultural analysis. Whether reading the dictionary from cover to cover, or dipping into it as a reference tool, linguists and students of popular culture will find it the definitive source of information on rhyming slang.
You don't hear anyone saying 'begorrah' in Ireland so I thought it was just a cliche to expect Londoners to talk like something out of Me and My Girl. But no, in Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith they really do say things like: 'It fair broke me old jam tart', meaning broke their heart, and I heard people say that they had a 'pain in their Auntie Nellie' meaning their stomach was playing them up. So I bought this dictionary, which is fascinating. It was quite good too for a rather awkward gathering once where the conversation was a bit sticky. Everyone got very involved in the various meanings of words and whether you'd really say 'Vera Lynn' if you meant gin, or how the expression 'China plate' shortened to 'China' came to mean 'mate'. You should note it includes a few amazingly explicit and rude things which can either be hugely entertaining or else shock you rigid. I'm only telling you this so that you can be prepared. Review by Maeve Binchy, author of 'Tara Road', 'Circle of Friends' and 'The Glass Lake'. (Kirkus UK)