Words of times gone by brought to life at new exhibition at The Word

Do you know your giddy kipper from your spags or your nappa from mush?

Friday, 1st February 2019, 1:34 pm
Updated Friday, 1st February 2019, 1:39 pm
Artists Jane Glennie and Robert Good at their "Lost Dialect" exhibition. Picture by FRANK REID.

If not, then you will soon be able to find out more about the words used in times gone by and those that are still around today. 
Today, The Word launches its latest exhibition - The Word Bank of Lost Dialects.

Put together by artists Jane Glennie and Robert Good, it has been created with more than 2,000 words and phrases that were donated to the project when the venue first opened in 2016.

Artists Jane Glennie and Robert Good at their "Lost Dialect" exhibition. Picture by FRANK REID.

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The display also looks at the history of some of the most popular and obscure words and phrases put forward such as:

* Gruffy - skin wrinkled from being in water too long.

* Budgie - a half pint of beer.

* Spags - feet as they are more commonly known.

The "Lost Dialect" exhibition, on show at The Word, South Shields. Picture by FRANK REID.

Until September, visitors to the exhibition will be asked to take a rubbing of their favourite Geordie words and vote on whether they want to ‘use’ or ‘lose’ them.

Jane said: “It was amazing and exciting that so many people were incredibly enthusiastic to donate and really think about those words that they used in the playground or their grandparents have used in different scenarios.”

Among the discoveries made by the artists were the varied spellings of some of the words put forward.

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

The exhibition also highlights those words that give the Geordie language its unique sounds – words such as ‘gis’, short for ‘give us’; ‘alreet’ for all right and ‘gan’, for go.

It also features new words and phrases such as grockles - tourists and ‘elephant ears’ as naan bread.

Tania Robinson, head of culture at The Word, said the Lost Dialects Project is one of the most fascinating ever undertaken at the venue, “because it is about capturing a language that is danger of being lost forever.

“Increasingly we communicate via technology and spellcheckers don’t recognise dialect,” she said. “So, if you type the word ‘clarty’, (dirty) it will autocorrect it to clarity, for example.

“This will make it harder for written dialect words to survive, which is why this project is more than just a trip down memory lane – it is a record of our regional identity.”

Words you will see at the exhibition include tranklements - ornaments, sprouters - young children and Giddy kipper – a bit silly.