Have you ever been in the situation where you are away from your home town and have used a word in conversation that is received with a blank stare? Across the U.K., although we all speak the same language, each area has its own bank of words that are unique to the region. In a bid to document these words, that are rarely formally identified, the Oxford English Dictionary has launched a campaign asking people around the country to inform them of some the words used that are local to their area.
This week, eSense Translations shares some of the responses so far and also provides a few other regionally used words, which we have come across.
Starting in Nottingham, the term ‘Ayub’, meaning hello, may be heard. However, it is likely that it is also commonly recognised across the North of England.
Another one from the Nottingham region, but perhaps less familiar is ‘Podged’ meaning having eaten too much!
This one is from Portsmouth and actually made an official entry into the Oxford English Dictionary last September – ‘Dinlo’, which means foolish or stupid and which has Romany origins.
If you are feeling a little embarrassed, in Northern Ireland, you would be ‘Wick’.
We’d love to know the origins of this one used in Yorkshire – ‘Jacobs-join’ meaning to bring and share a meal. Having looked into it, there are suggestions of links to the Native American Indians and an invitation by the chief to join him for dinner. It may also have Methodist links to Jacob in Genesis. There are further suggestions that again link it to the Christian religion, where it could also be known as ‘faith supper’ or potentially a ‘progressive supper’. But where does Jacob fit into this? Let us know if you have the answer!
Moving on, here are some great ones from people in Hull:
‘Mafting’ is hot,
‘Bains’ are your children,
And would you ever guess that ‘Snickersneeze’ means to get your own back and has nothing to do with the aftermath of eating your favourite chocolate bar?!
If you need the toilet in the North-East of England, you will be going to the ‘Netty.’
In Suffolk, if things are a little crooked, they are ‘On the Huh.’ This was one of several phrases that were put forward to be used in a poem, celebrating National Poetry Day last year. Also, included in the poem were ‘Bobowler’ (a large moth) which comes from our neck of the woods in Birmingham, ‘Dimpsy’ (twilight) from Devon and ‘Cheeselog’ (a woodlouse) from Berkshire.
In Lancashire, if you are acting like a wimp, you are being ‘Nesh’, if you are grumpy, you are ‘nangy’ and when you skip school, you ‘twag’.
An ongoing argument, mainly with a north-south divide, is the correct term for a bread roll. ‘Cob’, ‘Barm’, ‘Nudger’, ‘Bun’ and ‘Oven bottom’ are just a few. Discover more variations here and also check out a map of the U.K. illustrating their origins. It is believed that these differing terms for our common bread roll originate from the baker and his name for the processes used, how it was baked and the size of the roll. However, it is unlikely that the argument over what this small shape of bread should be called will be quickly settled!
Unsurprisingly, it is not just in the U.K. where words vary according to region. Many countries have the same experience. In the U.S., there is a clear East-West divide when it comes to their language use. In East to West order, whether it’s ‘yard sale’ or ‘garage sale’, ‘lightning bugs’ or ‘fireflies’, ‘trash can’ or ‘garbage can’, the language chosen is normally a clear give away of your location.
In the U.K., we love to share and compare our regional linguistic differences and this campaign from the Oxford English Dictionary has already received quite a response.
The study of language, its origin and evolution can be fascinating and just as we are working to protect minority languages, we should also aim to ensure that this regional word use is preserved. The work by the Oxford English Dictionary is certainly helping towards this goal. To check out more of their responses follow the campaign at #WordsWhereYouAre and if you have any regional words that you would like to share with eSense Translations, just comment in the section below.
By Lorna Paice