There’s not much sympathy to be had for banks or the people that work in them at the moment.

But language lovers will spare a thought for the loss of the lingua franca of the trading floor. Described as a mix of “Cockney rhyming slang, market banter and expressions picked up from horse racing bookmakers”, the slang is in danger of dying out because of the switch to electronic trading.

The language used by traders evolved because they spoke in person or over the telephone – it’s apparently not quite the same asking your computer screen for some “Bill and Ben” (Japanese yen). Other factors also come into play:

Many traders nowadays are recruited as university graduates with top marks from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and M.I.T., whereas 30 years ago aspiring youngsters with few, if any, academic qualifications often started as back office clerks and worked their way up to the trading floor.

Young London lads blessed with quick wits, common sense and ability to juggle numbers were often prized above those with academic laurels and went on to make fortunes as City traders.

“They were the ‘barrow boys’ coming off the market stalls. It was more working class and with that came the language of the street,” said one trader, who used to work alongside some dealers who also owned fruit and vegetable and flower stalls.

“In the early days of dealing rooms it was the City institutions and especially the British banks where you heard it. Now dealing rooms might be a bit more international and slang is dying off a bit.” (Source: Reuters)