Barney Rubble. ---was: dime

W Brewer brewerwa at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 6 15:14:43 UTC 2012

I don't recall Barney Rubble being particularly bellicose. (Mel Blanc's
guttural guffaw is what I mostly remember, plus the Ed Norton hommage.)
Anyway, in Cockney rhymes, there must be no relationship between the
meanings of the plain-form and its encryption, otherwise the cat would be
out of the bag.

Probably, therefore:

(1) there must have been an older, late 19th century Cockney rhyming
formula (sort of like a defective fanqie):

x(barney) + y(?) < z(?), where the long-lost y and z had to have rhymed.

I take the liberty of proffering a possible reconstruction:

*{a barny wife, strife} (cf. barney 1865 ‘cheating’ slang OED). (Barny
sounds like bonnie in 19th c. E Londonese?)

(2) Through hemiteleia, a further encryption took place, effacing the rhyme
word (y), resulting in a naked barney. With the loss of both source and
rhyme, the isolated barney eventually became etymologically opaque; o.o.o.
in Partridgese.

(3) Because of the etymological opacity of barney, its form became
folk-etymologically associated with a modern, familiar Barney: {Barney
Rubble, trouble}. It could just as well be updated to *{Barney Gumble, a

QED, QEF, and QE2.
The multitudinous possibilities for offending every Barney in the world
should include:
*{Barney Fife, a knife}; *{Barney Frank, a tank}; *{Barney Miller,
Godziller}; {Barney Google, a padoogle}; *{Bjarni Jonnson, Wisconsin};
ect., &c, and excetra.

<<The construction involves replacing a common word with a rhyming phrase
of two or three words and then, in almost all cases, omitting the secondary
rhyming word, in a process called hemiteleia, making the origin and meaning
of the phrase elusive to listeners not in the know... Rhyming slang, in
keeping with the rest of the language, is at the mercy of what one might
loosely refer to as "false etymology". An example occurs that involves the
term "barney", which has been used to mean an altercation or fight since
the late 19th century, although without a clear derivation.[9] Thus, in
1964, in A Hard Day's Night, John Lennon taunts the road manager into
“having a barney”.[10] In the 2001 feature film Ocean's Eleven an actor
uses the term "barney" and the claim is made that this rhyme is derived
from Barney Rubble,[11] ("trouble") with references to a character from the
Flintstones cartoon show. This usage can be seen as either an abuse of
history, or as a good example of the ever-changing nature of rhyming

Add Michael Caine as a rhyme slanger.

The Flintstones tv show 1960-66: "...When you're with the Flintstones, have
a yabbadabbadoo time, a dabbadoo time, you'll have a gay old time!" ( << ...melody is derived
from part of the 'B' section of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 17 Movement 2,
composed in 1801/02)>>.

The American Dialect Society -

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