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In the song "London Pride" by Noel Coward, do the lyrics "Whoa, Liza" and/or "Oh, Liza," (depending on the version) followed by a mention of "Covent Garden Market," refer to Eliza Doolittle? Also, what does "Whoa" mean here?

Whoa, Liza - see the coster barrows,
The vegetable marrows and the fruit piled high.
Whoa, Liza - little London sparrows,
Covent Garden Market where the costers cry.

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  • I'd guess that Eliza is used as a stereotypical Cockney name, rather than a direct reference. I'll see whether my mum, who is a Cockney, and was undoubtably singing that song in 1941, has an opinion.
    – tgdavies
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 0:17
  • I suppose one interpretation would be that Liza is a horse, navigating streets with barrow-boys rushing around (unrelated to barrow wights) and being startled by a flock of sparrers.
    – tgdavies
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 0:26
  • Listening to Noel Coward sing it, the second Whoa sounds like "Oh".
    – tgdavies
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 13:06
  • Yes, @tgdavies, I had the same thoughts. Of course Shaw could have used Eliza (Doolittle) because it was a stereotypical name too. One problem with the horse is whether they were still using them in Covent Garden ca. WWII. (Otherwise hard to explain "Whoa," though.) As you say, I also hear "Oh" for the second "Whoa." Unfortunately I haven't found a set of published lyrics that are exactly like the ones in the recording by Noel Coward.
    – DavidCB
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 23:00
  • Pygmalion was an extraordinarily popular play, so I would bet on Eliza Doolittle.
    – Barnaby
    Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 1:02

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