New library to feature special exhibition on North East language

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Do you know a spelk from a spuggy?

A fascinating exhibition is to take a fond look at the lost language of the North East and its industries when The Word, National Centre for the Written Word opens in South Shields.

The exhibition will celebrate the region’s heritage and culture through local words and phrases that are at risk of disappearing forever.

The free exhibition, in the Port of Tyne display pod and across the first floor of the building, will reflect different industrial themes, including shipbuilding, mining and crafts.

Visitors will be invited to donate their own favourite words to the word bank – with the aim of creating the biggest collection of dialect words in the country.

Lost Dialects, which will also feature archive photos, will be launched on October 22, when The Word opens to the public. Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “Language is constantly evolving and this exhibition captures words and phrases of the North East that are in danger of being lost forever.

“In the shipyards and pits, in homes and in the street, once commonplace terms are now disappearing from everyday conversations.”

Andrew Moffat, chief executive at Port of Tyne, said: “As an industry that has been on the River Tyne for over 2,000 years, we are looking forward to seeing how language has changed, and being reminded of the words and phrases that have survived.”

Lost Dialects has been curated by local poet and playwright, Tom Kelly. Dr Bill Lancaster, an expert in regional dialect who worked alongside fellow academic the late Bill Griffiths at the Centre for Northern Studies at Northumbria University.