Hoying some familiar words into the dictionary with Oxford’s North East additions

Going for a plodge at South Shields in 1968.
Going for a plodge at South Shields in 1968.

Just the other day, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) announced that it was inserting a number of “North East” words into its latest editions.

Words that you and I have been using for donkey’s years and which have become a part and parcel of our vocabulary, but which probably would have had people from outside the region shaking their heads in puzzlement.

Lots of prams, ideal for making bogies.

Lots of prams, ideal for making bogies.

Take ket for example, a word long associated with sweets, particularly the sticky (or should that be claggy) sort that clog your teeth and clamp your “gob” shut.

Or how about cuddy wifter, a left-handed person who, when playing games would invariably “hoy” a ball with “the wrong hand”?

There are many many more, of course, and funny enough, during a recent visit to a local supermarket, there, hanging from the ceiling, was another – a big sign, saying simply, bairns.

It’s a word we use every day, yet to see it there, pointing the way to “all things children”, was a bit of a surprise.

Good for you, I thought, and why not? We should be proud of our language, no matter how much it differs from that spoken by others up and down the land.

I remember when, not so long ago, a very well known high street store suddenly changed the signs for its ladies underwear to that for knickers, and the funny looks it generated among some shoppers.

Now, I dare say, people wouldn’t give such signs a second glance, and why should they? The store, like the English Oxford Dictionary, is simply reflecting the way we speak and moving with the times – all-be-it that most of these colloquialisms stretch back to goodness knows when.

How many of you still use words that your gran or grandad taught you?

If and when the sun deigns to shine and we get a bit of summer warmth, then perhaps you, like many others, will take a trip to the seaside.

Once there; off with the shoes and socks and into the bracing North Sea – for a plodge.

Now that’s a great North East word if ever there was one!

Going for a plodge, as you all know, involves taking a dip (usually just up to your ankles or knees) in the breath-taking blue. Now that would be a fine addition to OED.

So, if given the chance, what word, often used round these parts, would you have included in the dictionary?

I can well imagine the quizzical glances the OED’s compilers would give you if you suggested bitzer - a bicycle made up of all sorts of bits and pieces, something that young ’uns did when money was tight and old abandoned bikes lay about here, there are every where.

And talking of making things out of reclaimed odds and ends, who remembers making a bogie out of old pram parts.

Those big, old-fashioned, Silver Cross-type prams provided great axles and wheels upon which to attach your very own chariot.

With a bit of elbow grease, a few tools borrowed from dad’s shed and a little imagination, what would have soon become a rusting wreck, could quickly be turned into a mode of transporter befitting a bunch of wild-eyed youngsters. Take it to the nearest slope, jump on it and push off, and you and it would fly like the wind, being steered, of course, with a “rein” of heavy-duty string or rope.

And guess what you had in your pockets whilst hurtling down hill – why a bag full of allys and steelies, of course – that’s glass and steel marbles to the OED publishers.

As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and anything else.