Word Bank of Lost Dialects

1 February 2019 – 5 January 2020

The Word Bank of Lost Dialects was an exhibition by artists Jane Glennie and Robert Good that was commissioned as a follow on project to our original Lost Dialects exhibition.

It was a celebration of the thousands of North East dialect words donated during original exhibition, and invited visitors to experience the donated words.

The Word Bank of Lost Dialects contained around 2,400 donations of ‘lost words’ from the North East. Visitors were able to view the full Word Bank and take a rubbing of some of their most-loved Geordie words as well as find out about the history of some of the most popular words donated (and some of the obscure). There was also a chance to vote for your favourite words.

Some of the words that were donated were familiar to visitors but others such as fuddleskelly (untidy in appearance) and dilk (bow and arrow) – had never been formally recorded before until this exhibition. Among the discoveries made by Robert and Jane as they collated and researched the donated words, is that spellings of some words varied enormously, suggesting they were spoken more often than they were written.

“Take, turnip, for example or snadgie,” said Robert. “There are no fewer than 12 different spellings of that, from snadgi and snaggy to snadger and snaggie.

“But before dictionaries and schooling were the norm, many common words had multiple spellings until gradually the ‘right’ spelling became accepted and taught.”

They also discovered examples of different words having the same meaning. For example ‘Rile’ and ‘Caggle’ both mean to lean back on a chair.

The Word Bank of Lost Dialects not only explores the histories of some of the most popular and some of the most obscure words and phrases donated; words such as ‘gruffy’, which means skin wrinkled from being in water too long and ‘budgie’, a half pint of beer, but it also allowed visitors to interact with the words.

Below are some of the most interesting words:

Five of the oddest words

  1. Corrie fisted – left-handed
  2. Tranklements – ornaments
  3. Fuggie crack – a smack on the back of the head after a haircut at the barber’s
  4. Bullock walloper – a man who drives cows to market
  5. Soogie – to enjoy a long, hot bubble bath

Five of the nicest words

  1. Sprouters – young children
  2. Giddy kipper – a bit silly
  3. Proggles – stinging nettles
  4. Orly gorlies – the giggles
  5. Tappy lappy – walking slowly

About the artists

Jane Glennie

Jane Glennie is an artist and typographic designer. She is found of Peculiarity Press and Publisher of A New Dictionary of Art.

Previous projects include an installation at South Hill Park Arts Centre with over 2,000 recorded visitor interactions, an archive-inspired project for International Women’s Day and a London 2012 Inspire Mark project with Slough Museum. Her poetry films have been selected for international festivals including USA, Germany, Ireland and Singapore.


Robert Good

Robert Good is an artist specialising in words, text and meaning, frequently working with large volumes of data to explore their underlying rhythms, characteristics and quirks. Texts are like tubes of paint, to squeeze out and create with.

He has previously worked with over 3000 definitions of art, 500 Northumberland placenames and a large scale text installation at Skinningrove Mining Museum. His book A New Dictionary of Art is currently stocked at Tate Modern, BALTIC, and galleries across the UK.


Take a look at the exhibition being put together: