In this, the thirty-sixth episode of Anglophenia, host Kate Arnell presents some fascinating facts about Cockney rhyming slang. How did it come into existence?
"It’s not 100 percent known how cockney rhyming slang — the replacement of a common word with a rhyming phrase — came about, but it’s typically thought that the tricky word play was a type of code amongst groups of people in 19th century London who wanted to speak to each other without others being able to understand (for instance, street merchants who were haggling with customers). The “tricky” part is, in almost all cases, the omission of the secondary rhyming word, making the origin and meaning of the phrase unknown."
Tricky indeed! But very interesting in that it began as sort of a secret language or code, particularly given that some non-Brit English speakers claim to this day to have trouble deciphering it at times. Via Laughing Squid