Word Bank of Lost Dialects

One of our first exhibitions here at The Word encouraged visitors to donate ‘lost’ words from the North East dialect. It was very popular with visitors who spent time in the exhibition listening to local songs by Benny Graham, testing their knowledge of North East words and donating their favourite words and phrases that they rarely heard anymore and thought were at risk of disappearing.

2,400 words and phrases were donated and now thanks to artists Robert Good and Jane Glennie, these now feature at the heart of our new exhibition, Word Bank of Lost Dialects.

The exhibition opened a month ago and since then has attracted visitors from across the region who have came to interact with these dialect words.

Some of the words that were donated have been familiar to visitors but others such as fuddleskelly (untidy in appearance) and dilk (bow and arrow) – have never been formally recorded before until now. 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 allows visitors to interact with the words. Visitors can view the full word bank, take a rubbing of some of their favourite Geordie words and vote whether they want to ‘use’ or ‘lose’ them.

Below, we’ve picked out some of our favourites:

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


Take a look at the exhibition being put together