Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Taxi Slang


The other day in a bookshop I found a dictionary of London taxi driver slang. It's a little dictionary and only cost £2.50 but, if you're a Londoner, it's rather fun. (If you're not a Londoner, I fear this post may be dull.)

It's the place names that are pleasant. The Stock Exchange is, apparently, known as Thieves' Kitchen. The twelve back streets that run through Soho from Regent Street to Charing Cross Road are the Dirty Dozen, and Covent Garden is still known as the Flower Pot, despite the fact that there hasn't been a flower market there since 1974.

But my favourite definition was:

Dead Zoo - Natural History Museum


The Pancake, apparently.
(The bar at the nearest corner is the most beautiful in London)

18 comments:

  1. I love witty names like that. I was visiting Liverpool and asked to get off the bus near the Catholic Cathedral. The driver said something like, "Paddy's Wigwam." As an Australian, I feared he mustn't have understood my accent so I repeated myself after which he clarified that Paddy's Wigwam is what the locals called it and I would understand when I saw it. I did. LOL
    http://www.e-architect.co.uk/liverpool/liverpool_catholic_cathedral.htm

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  2. Is Elephant And Castle really from Infanta De Castille?

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  3. No. It's from the coat of arms of the guild of cutlery makers, which featured an elephant carrying a castle. There was a pub in the area with the sign hanging outside.

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    1. Which begs the question, why did the guild have those symbols as their motif?

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    2. Indeed it does!

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    3. Think! Ivory used to be used for knife handles (and for hafting expensive swords and suchlike). Ivory comes from elephants' tusks, hence the reason why. The castle is probably no more than a howdah, to show it's something of an upper-class elephant.

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  4. One of my granddads was a partner in a London Taxi business and he was full of Taxi Slang.
    I can only recall 2 items:
    1. “take a cock & hen for an oxford” which translated as a trip with a man & woman which cost the passengers 5 shillings (today =25p)

    2. Oxford & Cambridge Terrace was taxi man’s slang for a London street called Sussex Gardens. This was because it was the name of blocks of houses in the street. Youngsters “doing the knowledge” would be failed if they used this slang name at their test

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  5. I had always been told it was the infanta's castle and the silversmiths logo was taken from that good old london pun.

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  7. Hi, I'm from Chennai in the south of India, and my native tongue is Tamil. It is interesting to note that the Natural History Museum is referred to as "Dead Zoo". Coincidentally, the museum in Chennai used to be (many years back) referred to by locals, in Tamil, as the "seththa college" or "dead college" (seththa being "dead" and college being the equivalent for a collection of things - not unlike a zoo, if we take a very liberal interpretation) ! I'm just amused at the relatively similar use of the word "dead" out here!

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  8. http://london-taxi.co.uk/taxi-driver-slang/

    The above page has some examples from A-G, there will be others if you do a bit of searching.....

    Laurie -

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  9. New Kid on the Block5 July 2012 at 10:35

    Apart from the special language, there is also a special perception of distance by some taxi-drivers in London, I dare say.:-)

    Of course a taxi-distance between two points (hypothetically A and B) is NOT of course a straight line, but even so, going from point A to point B through point C (somewhere in Scotland..) is too much for my mathematical mind.

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  10. Mike Clayton, you can buy the book from Amazon, it's the first link in the post.

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  11. NKOTB, I always like to travel via angle C, in Wales

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  12. I used this company to take me to the airport. This was one of the most pleasurable experiencesI have ever had using a taxi service. The driver was actually early and got me to Logan airport safely and in comfort. I highly recommend this taxi service! Taxi Heathrow Airport

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  13. well informative and how can we buy this books. can u guide us..

    Cab in Brixton

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  14. The Stock Exchange is, apparently, known as Thieves' Kitchen.Taxi Cyprus

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