News 19 March 2023

Petition launched for Cockney to be recognised as official language

19 March 2023

A group of east Londoners have launched a petition calling for cockney to be recognised as an official language.

Cockney Cultures, a multicultural group co-founded by Andy Green of Grow Social Capital CIC and Said Osmani of the Bangali East End Heritage Society, are urging Tower Hamlets council to preserve the “unique cultural heritage” of the east London dialect, and want it to be included in any future community language provisions.

Presenting the petition at a full council meeting on Wednesday (March 15), Mr Osmani said: “To the working class communities and to other classes as well, to the ethnic minority Cockneys of Somali background, Bengali background, Jewish, Polish and German; Cockney is known worldwide through characters such as the characters in Marvel [films] to more UK shows such as EastEnders, but these characters are all connected to the East End in some way.

“We think by promoting it, it will promote better revenue and more commercial interest into the borough for the council here today.”

Cllr Amina Ali questioned whether cockney is defined as an accent or an identity.

“Many people identify as Cockneys rather than having Cockney as a language and modern Cockney has got a lot of Patois in it,” Cllr Ali said. “Should we then say that Patois spoken in the Caribbean should also be a community language as well?”

In response, Mr Osmani said: “Multicultural London English is a particular thing but it’s not Cockney, it’s a very different thing as you can be Cockney Black, Cockney Bengali, Cockney whatever – but Multicultural London English is probably what you are referring to when you can take on other languages as well.”

The speaker of the council Cllr Shafi Ahmed said a response will be sent to Cockney Cultures within 28 days.

[Image: Casimiro PT via Shutterstock]