We all know that journalists never get the numbers right for they’re all arts graduates who never did learn how to count. But given that they are all arts graduates we might hope that they at least get the language right. Which this story about ruby murray as a synonym for curry doesn’t rise to.
Seriously folks, cockney rhyming slang isn’t all that difficult:
Going for a Ruby Murray – curry – may never be the same again
It’s not a Ruby Murray – it’s a ruby.
For more than 50 years, British people have shown their love for curry by declaring that they are “going for a Ruby Murray”. Numerous Indian restaurants, takeaways and spicy recipes have been named after the 1950’s singer ever since she became synonymous with fiery food through the famous cockney rhyming slang. But the Telegraph can reveal that the name Ruby Murray is at the centre of a battle to try to establish exactly who has the right to use it in connection with fiery food.
So rhyming slang is an argot. One of the points being – as with so many slangs and so on – to mystify group outsiders and to show membership of the ingroup. It changes often, aiding in both processes. The basic underlying structure though remains.
The idea is that there’s a two word phrase. The second of which rhymes with the target word or meaning. But only the first word is used to refer to it.
So, “apples” means “stairs”. Apples and pears – stairs.
Boat means face – boat race – face. That one I’ve heard in use in the wild a few decades back.
And so on. But it’s never “boat race” to mean face, it’s “boat” with the rhyme of race and face being unsaid. Which is entirely the point of the exercise of course. It’s something that has to be learnt, thus mystifying outsiders and underscoring ingroup membership. And, given the rapid changes, recent ingroup membership. Be a year or three out of the gang and you’ll sound like someone in more normal English saying “Thine postillion hath gapped a tooth, forsooth”.
And thus ruby murray. It’s a “ruby” with the “murray” and it’s rhyme with “curry” being unsaid. It’s also, obviously, Ruby Murray as it’s a real name which is where the phrase itself comes from. Therefore no one ever goes for a ruby murray – not unless they’re wearing red trousers, are an arts graduate and are posing – but people do go for a ruby.
And what’s the point of the arts graduates if they can’t even get the language right?