Wednesday 28 November 2012

The Cockney TH

cockney-th-fronting If the word "Cockney" appears in a cryptic clue, its most common purpose is to indicate H-dropping. On occasion it refers to other Cockney accent features like th-fronting.

Th-fronting according to Wikipedia technically means:

The use of the labiodental fricatives [f] and [v] for the dental fricatives [θ] and [ð]

Simply put, th-fronting is the pronunciation of "th" as "f" or "v". So "think" in Cockney speech becomes "fink", "brother" becomes "bruver".

This facet of speech is put to use in cryptic clues such as:

Times 24508: Release a trio of Cockneys? (4) FREE
THREE (trio) would sound like FREE (release) in Cockney accent.

As with H-dropping, other indicators of Cockney pronunciation are names of geographical areas where Cockney English could be spoken - East End, Bow, Albert Square, etc.

FT 13854 (Bradman): Nonconformist wise men from east of London may introduce themselves thus, we hear (3,4) WEE FREE
A member of the Free Church of Scotland is colloquially called Wee Free, which is how those from east of London may pronounce "we three" (wise men).

One for you to solve:

Independent 7869 (Dac): Plain and unsensational, as a Cockney might say? (2-6)

PS: Why actor Hrithik Roshan, who has no Cockney connections AFAIK, pronounces "th" as "f" is as yet an unsolved mystery.

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Bhalchandra Pasupathy said...

Interesting, how much there is to learn!

I guess the answer to the poser would be NO FRILLS (F instead of TH)

Lakshmi Vaidyanathan said...


Nadathur Rajan said...

Plain and unsensational is NO THRILLS

A Cockney who pronounces TH as F might say it as
NO FRILLS (solution)

Anonymous said...

NO FRILL from No thrill substituting f for th. I have also noticed the word fifth being pronounced as fiff by a Ghanian working in London.

Anonymous said...

Further on the h dropping and adding an unnecessary h:

Mom to son: 'eat the pie before you heat it.

raju umamaheswar said...


Chesterley said...

Plain and unsensational, as a Cockney might say? (2-6)
NO-FRILLS (Cockneyism of NO THRILLS)

Rajiv said...

No Frills from No Thrills!

Shuchi said...

Thrilling to see so many of you got that right!

Anonymous said...

You mean frilling, don't you ?!???

Anonymous said...

If f=th was a two way equation, then I could say:

Fat's thine

Virtual Linguist said...

Here's a related clue that crossed my desk for editing several years ago, Shuchi. Alas, I fear it won't mean much to most of your readers:
"Cockney Turner in greatest party".
The answer is BEANFEAST. 'Party' is the definition, the letters BE and ST at the beginning and end are 'greatest', which means you're left with ANFEA. There's a tv presenter in Britain called Anthea Turner, who's a bit of a has-been now, but in 2006 she had a tv series 'The Perfect Housewife'. So, she's the 'Cockney Turner'.

By the way, I enjoyed your article, or guide to cryptics in India in yesterday's Guardian.

Shuchi said...

Hi Susan,

Good to know you enjoyed the Guardian article.

Thanks for the BEANFEAST clue - that looks like a tricky one even for those who might know of Anthea Turner.