The persistence of rhyming slang

For a little piece elsewhere I needed to use the built in image finder to add an, umm, image.

So, I looked for “septic tank” as it concerned a column by India Knight.

It started showing piccies of Shermans. Maybe Grants.

Which I think is nice…….

12 thoughts on “The persistence of rhyming slang”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    How American are the Grants? The M£ Lee was an American tank. It was modified for the British Army to become the Grant.

    The change was mainly in the turret – if I remember correctly they simplified it by removing a second turret within the main turret and changed the radio.

    Not sure why they thought these were appropriate names for tanks but there you go.

    I don’t think anyone calls Americans septic tanks outside of pale imitators of Private Eye. It probably started as a joke.

  2. – if I remember correctly they simplified it by removing a second turret within the main turret and changed the radio.

    Pretty much. The British spec turret was also considerably roomier. Difference seen nicely here:

    Also nice that the word “tank” is actually derived from “water tank” (workforce shortened “Water Carriers for Mesopotamia” – the development code for His Majesty’s Land Ships).

  3. The term “septics” is frequently used in novels by Stuart Slade. He’s one himself, so presumably has heard it used for real, and is not averse to using it: cannot be too insulting then.
    The novels are quite good yarns, incidentally, with lots of sly humour. Spot the pair from “Diamonds are Forever” who show up in Kazan Thunderbolts. Also, when Goering suddenly understands a talk he’d been given on putting a cat in a box…

  4. Further to my observation above, I first heard it in the movie ‘Welcome to Woop Woop’ which is worth a watch if nothing other than to see Barry Humnpries play a blind petrol pump attendant, Rod Taylor a dictator, an assortment of Aussie inbreds and Rodgers and Hammerstein films/music.

  5. Speaking as a card carrying Cockney, first time I heard the term was from a Home Counties public schoolboy. Rhyming slang it may be. But not from within earshot of the Bow Bells. We reserve our sneering for our “betters”.

  6. Julia M on her Ambush Predator blog currently has a link to a Cracked article about rhyming slang. I thought that this post was going to be about that.

  7. I asked a cockney if rhyming slang worked both ways. He asked what I meant. So I explained “having a giraffe” means “having a laugh” so if I was in an east end zoo and asked where the “laughs” were, would they know what I was asking?

    He just looked at me blankly.

  8. The essence of rhyming slang is that you don’t say the bit that rhymes, so giraffe = laugh is no good.

    There once was a push to use sherman as slang for american, but it did out when the Australian ‘septic’ came in. It could never have been grant because that does not evoke ‘tank’ as a second part. On the other hand, ”aving a Barclays’, or a ‘J Arthur’, was never about Americans.

  9. Some decades ago the story went that the IRA had bought five hundred septic tanks and as soon as they learned to drive them they were going to invade England.

    In the same vein, a large boy I shared a classroom with tried to get everyone to call him Tank.

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