How To Talk Like a Local: A Complete Guide to English by Susie Dent

By Susie Dent

While it’s chilly, are you nithered, taters or perishing? The English language in Britain alterations from county to county, with hundreds of thousands of neighborhood phrases to find. Susie Dent’s beguiling advisor to those phrases charts their origins and improvement.

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See DON’T BE DAFT, and also BARMY, DAFT, FOND, GORMLESS, QUILT, SOFT antwacky old-fashioned (Merseyside) Unlike such favourites as fab and gear, which delineate a Merseyside heritage as much as the Fab Four who allegedly used them, antwacky ranks a little less conspicuously on the local totem pole. But it is still to be heard there, where it means ‘out of date’ or ‘unfashionable’. For all the lexicographical suggestions that have been made for it, it most probably comes from the local pronunciation of ‘antique’.

Let’s start with Glasgow, and the sound of the great Scottish conurbation. Consonants are spat out aggressively, glottal stops ruthlessly made and vowels are gargled away from anything like standard pronunciation, so ‘ow’ (as in town and house) becomes lengthened to ‘toon’ and ‘hoos’. ’ Meanwhile the long ‘oo’ that you hear in moody, soon and room is tightened to a sharp ‘uy’ sound not so far removed from the narrow French ‘u’ you hear in tu, thus moody is more like ‘muydy’, soon is ‘suyn’ and room ‘ruym’.

Indeed, quaint rustic customs (with odd names) were exactly the kind of thing to take the fancy of the Oxbridge-educated parsons who wrote many of the regional glossaries published at this time. What is notable about April Fool words is the extent to which they are confined to northern areas, with the ordinary term seemingly unchallenged throughout the South and most of the Midlands. See also APRIL GAWBY, APRIL GOWK, APRIL NODDY, FOOL GOWK, HUNTIGOWK, MAY GOSLING April gowk April Fool (Scotland and north of England) Gowk derives from the Old Scandinavian word gaukr meaning ‘cuckoo’, and it is recorded in the medieval period with that same meaning in northern England and Scotland.

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