Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Cockney H

In Cockney pronunciation, the initial "H" sound is omitted from words that start with "H". cockney house, hat, hammer become 'ouse, 'at, 'ammer.

This h-dropping shows up in clues that need to delete an H for the solution.

Example:
THC 9473 (Gridman): Cockney fish is making a mistake (6)
fish = HERRING. "Cockney" signals dropping the H, which gives the answer ERRING.

H-Dropping Clue Characteristics

  • The clue mentions "Cockney" or a geographical area where Cockney English could be spoken (e.g. East End, Albert Square), to indicate the dialect.

  • This device is not too frequently used: once a month perhaps in most daily publications.

  • The dialect opens up fresh homophone possibilities; you will often come across the cockney H in combination with homophone clues - such as OAKS{~cockney HOAX} or EIGHT{~cockey HATE}.

    Guardian 24523 (Pasquale): Smart-arse having no room for Cockney, we hear (4-3)
    no room = NO HALL. "Cockney" indicates dropping the H, which gives NO ALL. "we hear" indicates a homophone, which gives the answer KNOW-ALL.

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3 comments

Chaturvasi said...

Traditionally, a true cockney is someone who was born within the sound of the Bow Bells (the bells of the church of St Mary le Bow in the City of London).
So 'Bow' in a clue could be an indication for the dropping of 'h'.

Shuchi said...

In the Tamil accent, doesn't opposite happen - an H is pronounced even where it is silent? At least, when a word is spelt out, any 'aitch' in it is pronounced as 'hetch'.

I wonder why The Hindu doesn't carry homophones based on Indian accents. Maybe it'll come across as mockery so our compilers play safe? Hmmm...I don't see many denizens of Bihar taking kindly to a clue about Bihari soot {~SHOOT}.

Aim said...

The example you took 'aitch - hetch' could be the only case in adding H in Tamil accent?

As for homophones based on Indian accent, I think it would be too complicated, especially because of the way different Indain laguages spell the words in English differently.

e.g.: word 'Tamil'.
In Tamil, the last letter l, is a 'strong l'. As for as I know the 'strong l' exists only in 3 langauges, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi. It's not in Hindi, nor in Sansrkit. It's "ळ".
And Tamils pronounce Tamil as "तमिळ".
For "त" they use "Th". And for the 'strong l' (ळ), they use 'zh'
So in Tamil the correct spelling of Tamil would be 'Thamizh"
(now am not sure about 'i' or 'ee', but it would be either Thamizh or Thameezh).
Malayalis also use zh for 'ळ'; while Maharashrians don't bother, they use just 'l'.

For 'त' all South Indian langauges use 'Th'. So extra 'h'?

But for 'श' they don't use 'Sh', but only 's'. 'शीवा' is spelled as 'Siva' not as 'Shiva'. So dropping 'h'?
'Sh' is used for 'ष'.

Bengalis pronounce Mutter as 'Motor'. I had seen in a restaurant in Kolkata, Mutter Paneer spelled as 'Motor paneer".

That's why I feel using homophones based on Indian accents would be really too complicated.